6 August 2017
Mademoiselle From Armentières

Today we share Mademoiselle From Armentières, an extremely popular trench song among Commonwealth troops. On Tuesday, August 8th we’ll share a post that provides an in-depth look at the historical context behind the song.  


Although not from Armentières, two “mademoiselles” serve lunch to Canadian officers at their estaminet near Mericourt.
Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-004503.

We are only providing a few verses here but it should be noted that some versions of the song reached as many as twenty-six individual verses! As usual, the song’s wording poked fun at both the French language and the English inability to pronounce much of it properly. Moreover, this is a relatively “clean” version – a product of the front line, some versions were wickedly obscene and coarse. 

In this reel from the Imperial War Museum, a 1917 recording of sounds from the front has captured troops lustily singing trench songs, including Mademoiselle From Armentières. The entire reel provides a haunting opportunity to “listen-in” on the First World War one hundred years later. 

Listen here: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80000964
Starting at 2:45 – It’s A Long Way To Tipperary, Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag
Starting at 3:37 – Mademoiselle From Armentières  

© IWM, Catalogue number 970 

Mademoiselle From Armentières 

Mademoiselle from Armenteers, parlay-voo,
Mademoiselle from Armentieers, parlay-voo,
Mademoiselle from Armentieers,
She hasn’t been kissed for forty years,
Hinky pinky, parlay-voo. 

Our top kick in Armenteers, parlay-voo,
Our top kick in Armenteers, parlay-voo,
Our top kick in Armenteers
Soon broke the spell of forty years,
Hinky pinky, parlay-voo. 

The officers get all the steak, parlay-voo,
The officers get all the steak, parlay-voo,
The officers get all the steak
And all we get is a belly ache,
Hinky pinky, parlay-voo. 

(Lyrics taken from the version found in Max Arthur’s When This Bloody War Is Over – Soldiers’ Songs of the First World War, p. 76)