"Ten German Bombers" is a children's song, originally sung by British schoolchildren during World War II, and also the British Military, but controversially adopted in recent years by English football fans at matches against Germany.
The song uses the same tune and verse pattern as "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain". The verse pattern also follows the format of the song "Ten Green Bottles", of which it is effectively a derived variant:
These verses are then repeated with one more bomber being shot down each time, the 10th verse becoming "There was one" and "shot it down", until the number of bombers reaches zero. The last two verses of the song are:
Since the beginning of the 1990s, the song has been sung by English football fans at some matches against the Germany national football team. It is typically accompanied by horizontally outstretched arms and a gentle swaying motion, as if to mimic an aircraft in flight, and on some occasions, the word "air" is replaced with "war".
Such vocal behaviour was eventually deemed to be racially offensive by The Football Association. In December 2005, Sven-Göran Eriksson, the then manager, asked fans to refrain from it at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, a plea echoed by Greater Manchester Police and other authorities. Television commercials starring David Beckham, Michael Owen, and Wayne Rooney requesting the same were also planned. Similar issues attended the football song "Two World Wars and One World Cup".
German fans in 2006, exhilarated by their team's three previous victories in the World Cup, adopted rival songs. Supporters of the two teams engaged in impromptu chanting competitions in the centre of Cologne. Elsewhere the answer from German fans at football matches was often the Nazi song Bomben auf Engeland (“Bombs to England"). The well known and often varied chant "Without England we're heading to Berlin" ("Ohne England fahr'n wir nach Berlin") uses the melody of "Yellow submarine".
During the 2006 World Cup, the anti German German musician Torsun (half of the group Egotronic) recorded a techno cover of the song. The song and its accompanying YouTube video (featuring footage of German planes being shot down, the Wembley Goal, a burning German flag, etc.) attracted media attention in Germany, as well as from the British tabloid News of the World. The song was eventually included in the World Cup themed compilation Weltmeister Hits 2006.
The song is also sung by Northern Ireland fans at home matches at Windsor Park, and also at numerous away matches. It has become a firm fans favourite since the start of the millennium and can heard being sung by the energetic Green and White Army in The Kop for periods in excess of fifteen minutes. In November 2014, during the qualification game against Romania in Bucharest for UEFA Euro 2016, the crowd enthusiastically sang Ten German Bombers at the final whistle.
There are songs that use the same tune with different words. For example, teams playing against Welsh teams use the words "10 sheep shaggers" and "And the farmers of England shot one down". It has also been sung as "10 Northern Monkeys" against teams in Northern England.
Northern Ireland supporters also sing the song replacing England with Ulster, and this song is usually followed by "The Dam Busters March". Fans of Rangers also regularly sing "Ten German Bombers", replacing the word "England" with "Britain". The German propaganda provided "Bomben auf Engeland" (Bombs on England), lyrics Wilhelm Stöppler, melody by Norbert Schultze for a 1940 movie called Feuertaufe (Baptism by fire). It was used as well in wartime weekly news reels.
Manchester United fans use this tune to taunt Liverpool fans. They sing "have you ever seen Gerrard win the league" in order to start mocking Liverpool FC and their fans for not winning the Premier League.