Better Off Dead is cockney rhyming slang for Red (communist)
In his memoirs, war veteran Arthur Sykes recalled how he was captured by Communist troops while serving in Korea in 1951. Cockney Sykes, born in 1921 near St. Pancras, was a true Cockney speaker who made his war colleagues laugh with his rude songs and rhymes about the Koreans.
But the Koreans weren’t so keen, and forced Arthur to stand in front of them and swear not insult them any more. Arthur cheekily replied: “fingers crossed I won’t be rude to the Better-Off-Deads any more”
This crafty Cockney earned Sykes a beating and solitary confinement.
Source: memoires of Arthur Skyes: http://www.romfordrecorder.co.uk/news/how_harold_hill_veteran_arthur_bertram_sykes_used_cockney_rhyming_slang_to_defy_his_korean_captors_1_3110395
Submitted by Uncle Fred.
First submitted on December 17, 2013.