Fred Karnos Army...?

Discussion in 'The NAAFI Bar' started by Barrelspanner, Jan 8, 2008.

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  1. A few years back we used to be chided by an older LE Major that we looked like "Fred Karnos Army" with our stitched togeather webbing and various different patterns of DPM, boots etc. We were doing the best we could but it seemed like (in the 1990s) kit went through a 2 year cycle and then the 'next bestest thing' would be issued (not Brit army), so it was hard to keep up, and frankly who could be bothered, some of the old stuff was very good, like the Mendal boots etc.

    Anyway, is the term still in use?, and who the hell was Fred? it sounded like quite a good outfit to me!
  2. Hello Barrelspanner,

    does this answer your question?

    We are Fred Karnos Army
    A sorry lot are we,
    We cannot march, we cannot fight,
    What fucking good are we?
    And when we get to Berlin
    The Kaiser he will shout,
    "Mein Gott, Mein Gott
    What a fucking fine lot
    Are the British Arm-y!"

  3. Hello Barrelspanner !
    Here is the full story.
    RED KARNO'S ARMY - "A humorous nickname applied to the new British army raised during the First World War, in allusion to Fred Karno, the comedian and producer of stage burlesques, whose real name was Frederick John Westcott (1866-1941). At the time Fred Karno's company was a household name through its high-spirited and eccentric performances. The well-known Army chorus, sung to the tune of 'The Church's One Foundation,' runs:

    We are Fred Karno's army,
    Fred Karno's infantry;
    We cannot fight, we cannot shoot,
    So what damn good are we?
    But when we get to Berlin
    The Kaiser he will say
    Hoch, hoch, mein Gott
    Vot a bloody fine lot
    Fred Karno's infantry.

    There are variations, of course, and in the Second World War 'Old Hitler' was substituted for 'The Kaiser.' The name is also applied derisely to other nondescript bodies. Karno himself adopted his stage name, when he and two gymnast colleages filled in at a music hall for an act called 'The Three Carnos.' His agent Richard Warner, suggested they change the 'C' to a more distinctive 'K.' See also Harry Tate's Navy." From "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" revised by Adrian Room (HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 1999, Sixteenth Edition).
  4. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    Fred Karno -born in Devon but settled in Nottingham- was a major music hall mover and shaker. he worked with Stan laurel's father, Arthur jefferson, then with Stan Laurel himself. he also introduced Syd and Charlie Chaplin to a greater public.
    His stage shows featured such greats of the time as George Robey (The Chocolate covered coon (sic)) and Madame Albini. Others who played in his productions were Sir Harry Lauder, Little Titch, Vesta Tille and Dame Anna Pavlova (of whom the dessert was named).
    After a time in America, working with Hal Roach on Chaplin films, and Keystone Cops features (who took their inspiration from Karno) he came back to the uk, where he directed a couple of films, featuring promising newcomers such as Margaret lockwood, Jean kent and Will Hay.

    The army bit came from his house during the war , when he had gatherings of dozens who dubbed themselves Fred Karno's Army.

    I need to get out more.
  5. Hello old_fat_and_hairy,

    thankyou for reminding me of Will Hay's name,I used to watch his films long ago and have always wanted to get hold of them again but couldn't remember his name or theirs.

  6. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    Oh Mr Poter is one of his best. I think it is on one of the terrestial chammels fairly soon. I like his stuff, and the fact he used the same ensembel crew, Moore Marriot, et al.
  7. Classic!
    Must find out when that is on.
    There's another one where I think they are all useless coppers and they're investigating a headless horseman or something. I remember something about them visiting the old man's father who was of course even older.
    There was a joke in that scene about midget gems where the father (Who is blind and bedridden) offers them all one and Will Hay gets a black one and says, "Oh black ones, they're my favourites". The father then says "Oh I don't like them, I always put them back in the bag".
    The look on Will Hay's face is brilliant. :lol:
    Schoolboy humour, but classic stuff.
    I seem to remember another one of their films where they are fighting Hitler and Will Hay poses as a German officer and one of the Hitler Youth is that skinny poof with glasses from the 'Carry On' films. He's only a young lad in it (and long dead now) so it really shows how old the films are.
    Will Hay has them all saluting the Fuhrer's picture using the 'V' sign which he says is a new type of salute. Classic. :lol:

    Edit to add a few bits...

    "Ask a Policeman" was the 'coppers' film, then there was "Where's the fire" where they are all firemen of course. An absolute classic when they are tring to move a really long fire ladder in and out of a building. LMAO and probably will again with any luck.
    Memo to self, see if these are available on DVD anywhere...
    Oh, and Charles Hawtrey was the poof with glasses from the 'Carry On' films.
  8. I've just bought all 19 Will Hay films on DVD on Ebay for £6.00 plus £2.50 P&P.
    I'll let you know if it arrives safely... 8O
  9. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    I stand corrected. You are quite right.
    Age is a terrible handicap
  10. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    Excellent. I might try for them myself. I have a couple of Abbot and Costello films. I love them too.