Mademoiselle from Armentières
Mademoiselle from Armentières” has roots in a tradition of older popular songs; its immediate predecessor seems to be the song “Skiboo” (or “Snapoo”), which was also popular among British soldiers of the Great War.
Earlier still, the tune of the song is thought to have been popular in the French Army in the 1830s; at this time the words told of the encounter of an inn-keeper’s daughter, named Mademoiselle de Bar le Duc, with two German officers.
During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the tune was resurrected, and again in 1914 when the British and Allied soldiers got to know it.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of December 4, 1939, reported that the historical inspiration for the song had been a young Frenchwoman named Marie Lecoq (later Marie Marceau), who worked as a waitress at the Café de la Paix in Armentières at the time of the war. Despite the obscenity of many popular versions of the song, it was reportedly quite clean in its original form.
The song’s first known recording was made in 1915 by music hall baritone Jack Charma