"Old soldiers never die ..."
Posted by R Berg on January 11, 2002
In Reply to: Origin of the phrase "old ... never die; they just ..." posted by James Briggs on January 11, 2002
: : I have long been wondering about the origin of the often-used phrase "old ... never die; they just".
: : In my school, there used to be an inscription saying "old teachers never die; they just lose their class".
: : Would anyone know the origin of this phrase ? Did anyone famous utter it for the first time ?
: : Thanks in advance for any help,
: : D. Becker
: Back in the early 1900s in Britain there was a phrase - still heard from time to time - 'old soldiers never die, they just fade away'. This may have come from a music hall song, but I'm far from sure. Just a suggestion as to a possible origin.
From Eric Partridge's "Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British":
soldiers never die: they simply fade away' has been extracted from the British
Army's C20 parody of the song 'Kind Thoughts Can Never Die' and the tune adopted
from it . . . This immortal ditty appeared in John Brophy and Eric Partridge,
'Songs and Slang of the British Soldier: 1914-1918,' 1930, and has been preserved
in 'The Long Trail,' lamentably out of print in Britain, but to be reprinted in
It was 'given its first familiarity in US in a speech by General MacArthur on his recall from Korea; still not forgotten' (Prof. John W. Clark, 1977)."