“Mademoiselle from Armenteers, parlez-veus!” The Bawdy Lyrics American Soldiers Actually Sang In World War One

For God’s sake, don’t let minors or anyone easily shocked read the verses of this song our good, clean American soldier boys sang  in France During World War One.



1919. Washington, D.C. Back from the front. “U.S. Army. Return of soldiers.” Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. 

(photo courtesy of Shorpy.com)


When I was about nine years old, my grandfather, who was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, was talking to me about his four years as mayor of our very small hometown in South Carolina. Those four years coincided with American participation in World War One and subsequent demobilization of American soldiers.

Soldiers returning to our area had clearly spent time with “Mademoiselle from Armenteers” (or correctly spelled Armentières). My grandfather told me that many of our returning soldiers had VD and so he donated his salary to the local VD clinic. I had no idea what he meant.

Versions of the lyrics published in periodicals of the era and later in history books for high school and college students were cleaned up. Like most war songs bellowed out by soldiers, the original lyrics of the song contain “salty language.”  By cleaning it up and making the lyrics socially acceptable, genteel folk stripped the song of both its bawdiness and its accurate reflection of the what the common soldier thought and felt.

Thus the bowdlerized version was severed from the reality which produced it. The song was popular with both British and American troops in France during World War One.

Below is the version of the song thought to be very close to the lyrics song by American doughboys and British Tommies. Although a century has passed, the lyrics hardly need annotation except I would note that in verse seven, “a Maxim gun” is a heavy machine gun.


The two line chorus below is also the title of the song :

Mademoiselle from Armenteers, parlez-veus,
Mademoiselle from Armenteers, parlez-veus,

You didn’t have to know her long
To find the reason men went wrong

She sold her kisses for ten francs each
Soft and juicy — as sweet as a peach

I had more fun than I can tell
Beneath the sheets with Mademoiselle

I fell in love with her at sight
Wacked myself for half the night

She go to church and say her prayers
And make a beeline for the stairs

She’d give a wink and cry qui qui 
Let us see what you can do with me

On her bed she sure was fun
Moving her ass like a Maxim Gun

I fucked with her but I fucked too much
Today when I walk I use a crutch

She’d grab your pick and give it a squeeze
‘Till it hung down below your knees

in all the bars
she’d roll her ass

She could hold her drink without a doubt
She was going strong when I passed out

lyrics courtesy of ‘The Jack Horntip Collection’



Published by

Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/