Kilroy Was Here

the famous kilroy doodleA predominant legend has it that the doodle originated with James J. Kilroy, a shipyard inspector who worked at the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts. The story says he used this mark to indicate rivets he inspected on the hulls of ships under construction. Not all of his markings were covered by paint during the hurried construction of the warships, and servicemen of all kinds found and copied the doodle everywhere.

Nearly everywhere our servicemen went during World War II, a colleague had preceeded them and left the Kilroy doodle. Of course, it showed up everywhere at home back in the states too.

It’s an easy doodle to draw, and a whimsical little character. I’ve made my own version as a shelf sitter … or better yet, as an LCD sitter that peers over the top of the computer screen.

Want one? Sometimes available on ETSY.

photo of kilroy carving shown with US quarter for scale photo of kilroy carving looking over the computer LCD photo of kilroy carving sitting on a mantle clock

Read more about the Kilroy legends at:
Kilroy drawing image courtesy of Patrick Tillery,

5 Responses to “Kilroy Was Here”

  1. Kevin Bridwell Says:


    I’m a US History teacher and would like to buy one of your Kilroy carvings.

    Is that possible, and how much would it be?



  2. Bob Says:

    Hi Kevin,
    Thanks for asking. I have some on the shelf. Asking $25 + $5.50 for shipping. The easiest payment method is through PayPal. Just initiate a payment to my email address and be sure to include your shipping address.

    That answer stands for anyone else who is interested.

  3. Kristin Kilroy Says:


    I am a Kilroy and was wondering if you had a couple of these Kilroy carvings left? I would LOVE to get one for me and my brothers. I checked your Etsy store and didn’t see any available.


  4. Bob Says:

    Hi Kristen,
    What a pleasant surprise, to meet an actual Kilroy. I do have a few more that are not yet completed. I’ll contact you by email.

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