D-Day Dodgers



The D-Day Dodgers were the Allied servicemen who fought in Italy during the Second World War. The D-Day Dodgers also inspired a popular wartime soldier’s song (Roud Folk Song Index no. 10499).

A rumour spread during the war that the term was publicized by Viscountess Astor, a Member of the British Parliament, who supposedly used the expression in public after a disillusioned serviceman in Italy signed a letter to her as being from a “D-Day Dodger”. However, there is no record that she actually said this, in or out of Parliament, and she herself denied ever saying it.

Reference to a “D-Day Dodger” was bitingly sarcastic, given the steady stream of allied service personnel who were being killed or wounded in combat on the Italian front. A “dodger” is someone who avoids something; the soldiers in Italy felt that their sacrifices were being ignored after the invasion of Normandy, and a “D-Day Dodger” a reference to someone who was supposedly avoiding real combat by serving in Italy, whereas the reality was anything but.

There are many versions of the song, depending on who sung them.

The following are the words adopted by the Ontario Regiment from Oshawa, ON:

We’re the D-Day Dodgers out in Italy,
Always on the vino, always on the spree.
Eighth Army skivers and their tanks,
We go to war in ties and slacks.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in sunny Italy.

We fought into Agira, a holiday with pay;
Jerry brought his bands out to cheer us on our way,
Showed us the sights and gave us tea,
We all sang songs, the beer was free,
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in sunny Italy.

The Moro and Ortona were taken in our stride,
We didn’t really fight there, we just went for the ride.
Sleeping til noon and playing games,
We live in Rome with lots of dames.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in sunny Italy.

On our way to Florence, we had a lovely time.
We drove a bus to Rimini right through the Gothic Line.
Then to Bologna, we did go,
We all went bathing in the Po.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in sunny Italy.

We hear the boys in France are going home on leave
After six months’ service, such a shame they’re not relieved.
We were told to carry on a few more years,
Because our wives don’t shed no tears
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in sunny Italy.

We are the D-Day Dodgers, way out in Italy.
We’re always tight, we cannot fight.
What bloody use are we?

This is the alternate version from the 8th Army:

We’re the D-Day Dodgers out in Italy –
Always on the vino, always on the spree.
Eighth Army scroungers and their tanks
We live in Rome – among the Yanks.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

We landed at Pachino, a holiday with pay
Jerry brought a band out, to cheer us on our way
Showed us the sights, and gave us tea
We all sang songs, the beer was free
We kissed all the girls in Napoli.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

The Moro and Ortona were taken in our stride
We didn’t have to fight there. We just went for the ride.
Anzio and Sangro were all forlorn.
We did not do a thing from dusk to dawn.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

On our way to Florence we had a lovely time.
We ran a bus to Rimini right through the Gothic Line.
On to Bologna we did go.
Then we went bathing in the Po.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

Once we had a blue light that we were going home
Back to dear old Canada, never more to roam.
Then somebody said in France you’ll fight.
We said never mind, we’ll just sit tight,
The windy D-Day Dodgers, out in Sunny Italy.

Now Lady Astor, get a load of this.
Don’t stand up on a platform and talk a load of piss.
You’re the nation’s sweetheart, the nation’s pride
But we think your bloody big mouth is far too wide.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, out in Sunny Italy.

When you look ’round the mountains, through the mud and rain
You’ll find the scattered crosses, some which bear no name.
Heartbreak, and toil and suffering gone
The boys beneath them slumber on
They were the D-Day Dodgers, who’ll stay in Italy.

So listen all you people, over land and foam
Even though we’ve parted, our hearts are close to home.
When we return we hope you’ll say
“You did your little bit, though far away
All of the D-Day Dodgers, way out there in Italy.”

 

Reference: Rod Henderson is the Regimental Historian of the Ontario Regiment. He served as a Sergeant in the Regiment and is the author of “Fidelis Et Paratus: The History of The Ontario Regiment RCAC”.