Fly like a beagle

Readers of a certain age will likely remember this song, which mentioned a funny-looking dog with a big black nose:

Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more
The bloody Red Baron was rollin’ up the score
Eighty men died tryin’ to end that spree
Of the bloody Red Baron of Germany

Basil begs to differ ever so slightly:

Yes, Baron Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen did shoot down 80 planes. But not everyone on every plane died. Some were single-seat aircraft, but most were 2-seaters. A total of 126 fighters were shot down by Richthofen. 23 were unhurt (or not reported as hurt), 20 were wounded, 1 was of unknown status, and 82 were killed.

Here’s the list of 80 planes. Basil says this has been bothering him for years, which I can believe. And this is probably not the time to mention that near the end of the instrumental break, the Royal Guardsmen shift into a few bars of “Louie, Louie.”


  1. Roger Green »

    1 July 2011 · 2:24 pm

    I’m not sure I understand the issue. 80 (or so) men DID die trying to end the spree, by his own calculation.

  2. CGHill »

    1 July 2011 · 2:30 pm

    Yeah, but “Eighty or so” doesn’t scan. You have to be Tom Lehrer to pull that one off:

    “The tune don’t have to be clever / And it don’t matter if you put a couple of extra syllables in a line.”

    Then again, some of us don’t even care if Jimmy crack corn.

  3. unimpressed »

    1 July 2011 · 3:25 pm

    Poetic license still works as an explanation. The lyrics fit the meter and it likely wasn’t important enough to the author to make it any more historically accurate than was necessary for neatness.

  4. Brian J. »

    1 July 2011 · 4:09 pm

    You never here that song on the radio, but the sequel goes into rotation at Christmas because it’s nice and secular.

  5. McGehee »

    1 July 2011 · 4:12 pm

    I’m with Roger; the song would be wrong if only 79 men died, but it appears 80 did. And then two more who, for whatever reason, fell prey both to the Baron’s dogfighting prowess and to poetic license.

    Then again I suppose it’s possible, if far-fetched, that three of the KIAs were women. Or boys.

    Or beagles.

  6. Jeffro »

    1 July 2011 · 10:36 pm

    Curse you, Red Baron.

  7. CGHill »

    1 July 2011 · 10:39 pm

    Hell, I don’t even like his pizza.

  8. fillyjonk »

    3 July 2011 · 3:45 pm

    Uh, we’re straining at the gnat of how many people the Red Baron shot down in a song talking about the imaginary excursions of a cartoon beagle?

    Sorry. My mind is stuck in “Literal” gear this afternoon.

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