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OURS ISN’T the first era in which offensive matters of one sort or another have been expressed. Yet, I would argue that the examples I offer here were considerably less offensive in their context than some of today’s talking points. Both examples are songs from World War II, one popularized by Perry Como, the other by Noël Coward. In researching one of them, I gleaned aviation lore new to me. In the other, I even enjoyed lyrics that celebrate arming the populace.
Perry Como and Martha Stewart (not the Martha Stewart that may first come to mind) sang “Dig You Later (A-Hubba Hubba Hubba)” in the movie Doll Face, produced just at the end of World War II; it opened in theaters on December 31, 1945.
“Dig You Later (A-Hubba Hubba Hubba)” is replete with 1940s slang and, understandably, WWII-jingoistic sentiments:
“I got it from a guy who was in the kno’/It was mighty smoky over Tokyo.”
“A friend of mine in a B-29 dropped another load for luck./As he flew away, he was heard to say/A-hubba hubba hubba, yuk yuk.”
Not exactly Nobel Prize for Literature, but hearing the song recently on SiriusXM’s 40s Junction channel got me thinking about the B-29 Superfortress and another of Boeing’s major contributions to WWII victory, the earlier B-17 Flying Fortress.
The song’s B-29 citation is warranted, given this aircraft’s importance late in WWII. However, the B-17 Flying Fortress deserves even more recognition. A total of 12,731 B-17s were built between 1936 and 1945. By contrast, only 3970 B-29s were produced between 1943 and 1946.
Now that the aviation-scholarly portion of this discussion is completed, you’re encouraged to wallow in wonderfully jingoistic song: Check out ”Dig You Later (A-Hubba Hubba Hubba).”
In what might be misconstrued as my taking sides in today’s gun control controversy, I recall another WWII ditty, Noël Coward’s “Could You Please Oblige Us With a Bren Gun?”
Coward’s wartime contributions included running the British propaganda office in Paris, working for his country’s Secret Service and producing In Which We Serve, a naval film that won him an Academy Honorary Award in 1943. That same year, Coward also composed the droll bit of wartime satire, “Could You Please Oblige Us With a Bren Gun?”
The Bren light machine gun was made in Britain from the 1930s and was in use until 1992. Its name derives from Brno, Moravia, the Czechoslovakian city where an early variant was designed, and Enfield, site of the British Royal Small Arms Factory. A variant of the Bren is still produced in India.
In Coward’s song, an imaginary Colonel Montmorency, “in Calcutta in ninety-two,” writes a letter to the Minister of Supply. For the complete tale, see ”The Blitz Years.”
Here are several of my favorite bits:
“We’ve got some ammunition, in a rather damp condition/And Major Huss has an arquebus that was used at Waterloo.”
“Our local crossword solver has an excellent revolver,/But during a short attack on a fort, the trigger got mislaid.”
“With the Vicar’s stirrup pump, a pitchfork and stave/It’s rather hard to guard an aerodrome./So if you can’t oblige us with a Bren gun/The Home Guard might as well go home.”
My sentiments exactly, sort of. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016