Salute the king…

Several versions of this:

Salute the King (military salute)
Salute the queen (naval salute)
Salute the German submarine (thumb your nose)

A close variation
Salute the captain of the ship
sorry, sir, my finger slipped

Both of these go back to at least the 1940s, and could go back to about World War I.

In the 1970s in the States, it had morped to:
Salute the king
salute the queen
touch the dirty submarine
(the third line here ended with touching one’s butt).

Meanwhile, in the 70s, Iona Opie picked up this variation, which is said to go back to at least the 1950s:

I’m a girl guide dressed in blue
these are the duties I must do
salute to the captain
curtsey to the queen
show my knickers to the football team

Opie notes that on the 3rd, 4th and 5th lines, one saluted, curtseyed, and stood on one’s head, respectively (judging by the pictures in The Singing Game, girls still wore dresses almost exclusively in the UK at the time, making standing on one’s head slightly risque). I have to wonder if this made it to the states as a rhyme about cheerleaders – it would have been easy enough to Americanize. There are American versions that end with “turn my back on the boy in green.”

Similar to this is one that went around in the 1940s:

This is how the king salutes (salute)
This is how Hitler salutes (raise arm)
this is how a dog salutes! (lift leg)

These went around in many, many variations, sometimes changing names to include modern and topical references. Put yours in the comments!

See also: Charlie Chaplin went to France

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  1. Anonymous

    I knew the Girl Guide rhyme as a skipping rope song. Two other girls turned the rope and you jumped in singing:

    "I'm a little girl guide dressed in blue
    These are the things that I must do
    Salute to the officer, (salute)
    Bow to the queen (bow from waist, arms across)
    And turn my back on the wringing machine" (do an about-face jump)

    Even then I wondered what the 'wringing machine' was and why I was supposed not to like it. It should probably have been 'submarine', and we misheard.
    (Manchester, mid-1950s)

  2. Robyn T.

    I used to skip to this in the early 50's. Queensland, Australia
    I'm a girl guide dressed in blue,
    See all the actions I can do,
    Stand at ease and bend my knees,
    Salute to the King and bow to the Queen,
    Turn my back on the old tom cat
    And, one, two, three, pepper.

  3. Anonymous

    Pre WW11
    I am a Girl Guide dressed nin blue,
    These are the actions I can do
    Salute to the King and bow to the queen
    And turn my back on the eyes of green.
    Two girls turning ,if you could not complete it and then run out with out the rope ctching on you ,you had to take an end.

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  9. Don Davidson

    When I was in grade school in the mid-1960’s, the girls had a jump rope chant that was something like that. This was in Poplar Bluff MO, in the southeast corner of the state.

    I’m a little Dutch girl dressed in blue,
    these are the duties I am to do.
    Salute to my captain,
    Curtsey to the queen,
    Turn my back on the US Marines.


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