Comic line, making fun of the US Army in Europe in WWII. There was a good humoured banter between the GIs that were stationed in Britain prior to and during WWII and the British citizenry. The GIs had a come-back – calling the Brits, “underpaid, undersexed and under Eisenhower”.
Conditions were harsh in Britain in the early 1940s and there was also an undercurrent of unease that was conveyed by the phrase, especially amongst British men, who resented the attraction of GIs, with their ready supply of nylons and cigarettes, amongst British women. The English artist Beryl Cook, who was in her late teens at the time, later made this observation in a broadcast interview: ‘food was scarce, but we supplemented our income by a little impromptu whoring with the GIs – we all did it’. What was meant by whoring there isn’t clear and it may just have been a reference to flirtatious dalliance in exchange for nylons and chocolate. Indeed, many of these liaisons were love matches rather than commercial transactions, as the thousands of marriages between US servicemen and British women (the GI brides) is evidence of.
The line was also used in Australia, in much the same context, although appearances of it in newspapers there post-date those in Britain and the USA.
The phrase was popularized by Tommy Trinder (1909-1989), a well-known and well-liked English comedian (seen here with Phil Silvers). His version of the line which, although he gave it wide circulation was probably coined by someone else, was “overpaid, overfed, oversexed and over here”. Other variants also appeared at the time, for example “oversexed, overpaid and overbearing”.
Strangely, since there can’t have been anyone over the age of ten in Britain at the end of the war who wasn’t familiar with the phrase, it appears very seldom in print. The earliest reference I have found is in a US newspaper The Miami Daily News, April 1944:
In London the story is being told of an American official who was anxious to discover the nature of the British complaints against the American soldiers based there. He finally asked one Britisher:
“What do you think is wrong with the American soldiers?”
The Britisher answered:
“Well, they’re overdressed, they’re overpaid, they’re oversexed, and they’re over here.”
Given that the expression is British it must have been in use there prior to it finding its way to America. It can’t have been much earlier though as the USA didn’t enter the war in Europe until 1943.