Posted by R. Berg on December 27, 2001
In Reply to: Kilroy was here posted by Cutter Sisson on December 27, 2001
: In the summer of 2000 Paul Harvey, an American radio personality, gave a story regarding this phrase. Kilroy's name was James. His job in WWII was to inspect the truck-sized shipping containers on ships bound for the UK. To prove that he did actually do his job he would write "Kilroy was here" on the inside of the container. James is noted for keeping the quality of the contents bound for allied troops very high. Troops knew that if it didn't say "Kilroy was here" the quality of the supplies would be questionable.
Keep your salt shaker nearby. From Eric Partridge (a greater authority than Paul Harvey), "A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English" (Macmillan, 1961):
"This catchphrase, which arose, early in World War II, as if by magic, was written on walls, etc., everywhere the British and American soldiers fought or were stationed. No satisfactory explanation has ever been made; hundreds have been suggested."