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PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs

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Subject: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 10:48 AM

      This is an edited PermaThread® on Merchant Navy Songs, edited by Ross Campbell. Feel free to post to this thread, but remember that all messages posted here are subject to editing or deletion.
      -Joe Offer-

The aim of this thread is two-fold:-

a) to set out the songs and fragments that my colleague Ron Baxter collected during his time in the British Merchant Navy (1966-1974 with Clan Line and other companies belonging to British & Commonwealth Shipping), along with other material he composed then and more recently.

b) to draw out any other songs/verses/fragments from the memories of anyone who may have come across similar material.

First, an introduction from Ron Baxter (from a hand-out we use when presenting these songs):-

Songs of the British Merchant Navy - an introduction.


The mate bawling out "Who's the bloody nightingale?" to a gang of hungover shellbacks as they warped themselves out of the dock is now only a folk memory. Shanties, as living, working songs, died with the last of the commercial windjammers - but did sailors stop singing about their trade? Well, not quite!

In 1966, a skinny 17-year-old clad in a navy rain-coat two sizes too big boarded the S.S. Clan Sutherland. The watchman promptly told him, "Don't be a bloody fool, son - go back home to yer mam!" This was my welcome to the Merchant Navy. But it was on that first trip that I was introduced to a class of songs virtually ignored by folk-song collectors - the Merchant Navy songs.

Now, don't get me wrong. They are not a treasure-house of unknown ballads. The songs are hardly on a par with the "Child" Ballads, or Stan Hugill's shanties, or Cyril Tawney's songs of the "Grey Funnel Line". Most were parodies, or used well-known popular tunes. They were frequently bawdy, sometimes downright obscene - and many not of any great literary merit...

        "I may be right, I may be wrong.
        But I'm perfectly willing to swear -
        That a Cunard steward mooned at me -
        Trousers down and bottom bare!"

However, as examples of social history, I feel they should be preserved. On that first trip, I heard and noted several "Clan Line" songs. I soon discovered that other companies had their own versions. The best known and most widespread song was "Bye, Bye, Clan Line" (or Ben Line, B.P., Cunard, etc.) Like many shanties, there was no definitive version - apart from the opening couplet, which always began;

        "Packed my bag, packed my grip;
        I'm not coming back next trip!
        Bye, Bye, --------------------------"

Over my time at sea, I must have heard twenty or so verses - but unfortunately I didn't note them all down! Different runs, cargoes, masters - all were grist to the versifier's mill. Another parody was "Clan Boat leaving Bombay";

        "...bless the khalasi and the jhemadar,
        Bless the secuni and the pani wallah.
        The burrah sahib says "When we dock -
        You won't get me back with this lot!
        But next trip you'll find that he's back with Clan Line!
        So cheer up, my lads, bless 'em all!"

Clan Line had British officers, while the crews were Indian or Bangladeshi. Consequently, lots of their songs had bits of seaman's Hindustani worked in. One of Clan Line's sister companies was King Line. They were a tramp outfit - in both meanings of the word!

        "Oh, the King Line Captain sings this song -
        Balls up! Balls up!
        The bloody engine has gone wrong, so get those black balls up!"

Two black balls, one over the other, is the international sign for "I am not under command" - i.e. "I have broken down". On several ships I sailed on, you could add "again!"

Clan Line was part of Cayzer Irvine's British and Commonwealth Shipping Group, which also included King Line, Union Castle, Scottish Shire Line and Hector Whaling. Hector's had ceased their bloody trade some years before, but still operated a couple of tankers. It was on one of these, the Hector Hawk, that I obtained what I believe may be the last song to have been written in the British whaling fleet - "Blood on the Ice";

        "Now the blood of the whale and the white of the ice
        Are there on our funnel as our ship's device;
        We are cruising around in the snow, hail and sleet,
        South of South Georgia, in the Hector Whaling fleet."

All the above examples I collected from other crew members in the company I sailed with. But during my Mid-Apprentice course in London. I came into contact with cadets from many other firms. From them I learned their versions of songs I already knew, but also some new ones - many of them the nautical equivalent of rugby songs, but also one or two interesting pieces, such as the Trident Tankers Cadet Song to the tune of "Gilly-gilly-ossenpeffer-katzenellenbogen-by-theSea". I also picked up several "navigational aids" in the form of rhyming couplets;

        "If to starboard Red appear, 'tis your duty to keep clear -
        But if to port you can see red, all is safe, go back to bed".

But when would the songs be sung on board a busy ship? Well. of course it varied from vessel to vessel. You would invariably hear "Bye, Bye, Clan Line" from Biscay onwards when we were heading home. But in the main, they were sung in port, after a few (or many!) beers. They would be interspersed with "Eleanor Rigby", "Little Red Rooster", "White Christmas", or anything else someone fancied singing. Although I do remember "Jervis Bay" being sung, ballads were very rare; I did encounter a couple during my voyages. One arose from an incident we first heard about over the radio. The Royston Grange was in collision with a tanker in the mouth of the River Plate, and all on board were lost;

        "For Death she stalks silent, and she strikes both swift and strange,
        As when she took into her arms the crew of the Royston Grange."

In a far lighter vein, the misadventures of the crew of the M.V. Phyllis Bowater during a visit to New York produced the following;

        "Well they had a good time, but just as we feared,
        Venus' measles they soon appeared.
        So off to Times Square no longer they went,
        For the Doctor and the "ladies" took every last cent!"

Most of the songs I collected from officers, mainly because I didn't understand Hindustani sufficiently well to follow the Khalasi's songs. On white-crewed vessels, once the lads knew that I had this strange hobby, they would come and ask me "Have you heard this one?" One such was the "M.V. Hardship";

        "When we got to Kiwi, we all went ashore;
        Off to Ma Gleeson's to get us a whore.
        But when we got there, the pickings were poor,
        'Cause the P.S.N.C. Lads had been there before!"

This is an odd one; over the years I found two further versions, one about Union Castle (though I never heard it on a Union Castle vessel), and a Harrison's version which is repetitively vulgar without being any more amusing. Something that was amusing was to find a verse sung to the tune of "The Manchester Rambler";

        "I'm a tramp ship, I'm a tramp ship, on no regular run;
        I go wherever the cargoes may come.
        It may be to Lagos on Sunday -
        But they'll change it to Sydney come Monday!"

The bloke I got that from had never even heard of Ewan MacColl! I also found it funny to see two A.B.s almost come to blows as to who had the "proper" version of the parody "Shaw Savill's Buccaneers".

To sum up, my collection (mainly made between 1966 and 1974) is a mixture of crude, unpolished, light-hearted parodies, although there are several gems. The majority decry the Company, the Master, the Officers, and the engines. They frequently poke fun at gay stewards, though I can't remember ever meeting any homophobics at sea.

Why were they sung? I suppose because they were our songs, we could all relate to them; we understood the slang, the technical terms and the foreign words. There was also a parallel with the sea-shanty; a chance to get frustrations off your chest. Though they may be pale shadows of the fore-bitters of the past, they are part of our nautical heritage, and as a confirmed "traddy", I am very glad to have heard, collected - aye, and sung - these songs.

        "Goodbye, Second; Goodbye, Chief;
        On the quay stands my relief;
        Clan Line, Bye, Bye!"

Ron Baxter
Fleetwood, 2000

Footnote: Some years ago Ron Baxter and Ross Campbell formed "Red Duster" to create and perform thematic shows to illustrate aspects of Britain's maritime heritage. The songs which Ron collected at sea form the basis of their show "Farewell to the Clan Line". Together with Red Duster's own compositions and other contemporary songs, they give a picture of what life was like in the British Merchant Fleet in the years before its near-terminal decline.


Back to me (Ross)
I'll follow this over time with

a) the collected songs (complete versions) and accompanying notes from Ron.
b) the collected songs (fragments, odd verses, alternates, etc)
c) Ron's compositions
d) some contemporary songs we used in the "Farewell to the Clan Line" show

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: BLESS 'EM ALL (CLAN LINE VERSION)
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 11:02 AM

^^BLESS 'EM ALL (CLAN LINE VERSION)
(Coll. Ron Baxter, 1966, source singer unknown)

There's a Clan boat just leaving Bombay,
Bound for old Blighty's shore;
Heavily loaded with bum engineers,
Bound for the land they adore.
She's down by the head, she's listing to port,
She's making three knots with the tide;
But you'll get no enjoyment in the Clan Line employment,
So come on, me lads, bless 'em all!

Bless 'em all, bless 'em all;
The Tindal, the Kasab and all;
Bless all the "Sparkies", they're all round the twist;
Bless all the pursers, and their limp wrists!
If the engineers can get us home,
The "Kali Pani" no more will I roam;
'Cause you'll get no promotion, this side of the ocean,
So cheer up, me lads, bless 'em all!

There is the "Old Man", he's counting the days
'Til they will let him retire;
There stands the Chief; he's gnashing his teeth -
All the coal that he's bought just won't fire.
But there's many a 'prentice just starting his time,
There's many a fool's just begun -
That's signed with "Scots Navy" for four years of slavery,
Out here on the Hooghli run.

Bless 'em all, bless 'em all;
The Engineers, Two, Three and Four;
Bless the Kalasi and Secuni,
Bless the Serang and the Bhundari.
Though the Burra Sahib says "When we dock -
You won't see me back with this lot!"
Next trip you'll find, he'll be back with Clan Line;
So cheer up, my lads, bless 'em all.
RJC

Bless 'em All (Clan Boat leaving Bombay): Notes (RB)

I heard this first on the S.S. Clan Sutherland, 1966. It was known on every other ship I sailed on, with slight variations. I have no doubt there are other company versions.

Clan Line had Lascar crews (the term "Lascar" was never used at sea, at least with Clan Line; the crew were variously referred to as "the crew" (!), "the men", or collectively as "Abdul". Consequently, bits of Hindustani frequently crept into Clan Line songs.

"The Malim Sahib's Hindustani", first published in 1920 as an aid to officers working with Indian crews, is still in print (4th reprint, 2007, ISBN 978-0-85174-187-1) and available from the original publishers, Brown, Son & Ferguson, Glasgow (http://skipper.co.uk/books/bn1871.htm) – who also publish Capt. W. B. Whall's "Sea Songs and Shanties".

"Bum engineers" - "duff" or "useless" engineers - nothing sexual in the term.

Tindal - 2nd Bo'sun

Kasab - lamptrimmer

Sparkies - radio officers (not electricians!)

Chief Stewards (sometimes Pursers) - all regarded as potential homosexuals

Kali Pani - kali (pronounced "kala") = black; pani = water, i.e. the ocean

"the coal that he bought just won't fire" - the Chief Engineer used to be given an allowance to buy coal. If he could make a profit by buying cheaper grades, nobody minded as long as the ship continued to steam. The Chief Steward was similarly responsible for the food rations for the trip.

"Four years of slavery" - the duration of the apprentice's term.

Scots Navy - Clan Line

Engineers , 2, 3, and 4 - the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Engineers

Secuni – quartermaster

Jhemadar - a rank with no equivalent in the Merchant Navy; a sweeper, also known as Topas

Kalasi - seaman/A.B.

Serang – bo'sun

Bhandari - cook

Pani Wallah - water-man (boiler hand)

Bhurra Sahib - Chief Officer, 1st Mate (Bhurra Malim Sahib)

The last Clan boats built as coal burners came into service in the 1930s. The last coal burners went out of service in the early '50s


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Subject: RE: Merchant Navy Songs
From: the button
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 11:09 AM

Absolutely fascinating, Ross -- keep it coming.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BYE BYE CLAN LINE
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 11:24 AM

^^BYE-BYE CLAN LINE
(Coll. Ron Baxter 1966) Tune: Bye, Bye, Blackbird        

Pack my bag, pack my grip,
I'm not coming back next trip -
Bye-Bye, Clan Line!
Goodbye Second, Goodbye Chief,
On the quay stands my relief,
Bye-Bye, Clan Line!

No more "Stations!" in the early morning;
No more stand-bys in the light of dawning;
Very soon will come the day -
To Sir Nick you'll hear us say,
"Clan Line, Bye-Bye!"

No more scrubbing decks with soap,
No more rolling round Good Hope,
Bye-Bye Clan Line!
No more sights that just won't work,
No more Mates who bawl and curse,
Bye-Bye, Clan Line!

No more hanging round for dates of sailing,
No more stopped in fog with fog-horns wailing;
Very soon will come the day -
To Sir Nick you'll hear us say,
"Clan Line, Bye-Bye!
(I'm joining Ben Line!)
Clan Line, Bye-Bye!"

Bye-Bye, Clan Line Notes (RB)        

Heard first on S.S. Clan Sutherland, 1966; I subsequently heard versions of this on every ship I sailed on. The version above is how we presented the song in the "Farewell to the Clan Line" show. Alternative verses follow:-

Packed my bag, packed my grip;
I'm not coming back next trip.
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
No more scrubbing decks with soap,
No more rolling round Good Hope,
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
No more running up and down the hatches;
Or crawling up the "Cut" on double watches.
Goodbye, Second; Goodbye, Chief;
On the quay stands my relief;
        Clan Line, Bye, Bye.

No more going round the bend;
Six weeks anchored off Southend.
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
No more sights that just won't work;
No more mates who bawl and curse.
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
No more "Stations!" in the early morning;
No more "Stand-by!"s in the light of dawning;
Goodbye, "McDonald", "McDougal" too,
"Clan McScrapheap", goodbye to you,
        Clan Line, Bye, Bye.

No more drawing cargo plans
That somehow are always wrong;
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
I won't miss the heavy lifts,
Or the "Oh Five Hundred" shifts,
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
No more pig-iron polishers complaining;
No more stuck in fog with fog-horns wailing.
No more trips round to Madras -
You can stick that up the purser's arse.
        Clan Line, Bye, Bye.

Tell "Boozie Bowsy" and "Mad Mac";
Tell "Honourable Bill" I won't be back.
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
I will write to Captain Harte
A "Dear John" letter and then depart,
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
Farewell to Cape Town's bloody stupid Yarpies;
Farewell to L.M.'s "black hams" - (thieving harpies!);
Another thing that I won't miss;
"Mother" Harper gave me a kiss,
        Clan Line, Bye, Bye.

From this mob, I must go,
I think I'll sign with P.&O.
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
This Scots Navy is so hard -
The Old Man thinks he's with Cunard,
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
I've had enough of days with engine breakdowns;
I've had enough of the "Rummage Squad" and their shakedowns.
I'll say "Bugger off!" to the Old Man,
Come tomorrow, when I'm gone.
        Clan Line, Bye, Bye.

"Just three months", Head Office said;
But it's a "double-header" to the Med.
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
And then straight out to Chittagong,
Where Clan Alpine got it wrong!
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
There's only one thing now that can save me;
It's to see the last of Mr Cayzer's navy.
Very soon will come the day,
To Sir Nic you'll hear me say;
        Clan Line, Bye, Bye.
(I'm joining Bank Line!)
        Clan Line, Bye, Bye.

Another verse began;-

Cape Town, P.E, Durban too;
I've seen enough of all of you;
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.
To Calcutta and Colombo,
To Bombay no more I'll go;
        Bye, Bye, Clan Line.


Notes (RB):-

This was probably the best-known and widest-spread of all the Merchant Navy songs. Like many shanties, there was and is no definitive version. The first couplet was usually as given, although it too would vary according to the line, eg "Bye, Bye, Ben Line/Glen Line/Bank Line/BP, etc. Different companies, runs, ships, masters, cargoes; all gave rise to appropriate verses. I heard up to seventeen different verses in ten years at sea, all with the one company.

"Cut" - the Manchester Ship Canal - you were on watch all the way from the Mersey.

"Six weeks anchored off Southend" - the fruit boats were frequently used as floating warehouses.

"cargo plan" - diagrammatic plan of the ship showing where all the different bits of cargo are (or are supposed to be!)

"Stations" - your duty position on leaving or entering a port.

"Stand-by" - as above, but in the engine room.

"---McDonald, McDougal" - two very old Clan Line vessels.

"Clan McScrapheap (or Clan McBagpipe) - general term for any Clan boat.

"Boozie Bowsy" - Captain Bosanquet (he was newsreader Reginald Bosanquet's brother).

"Mad Mac" - Captain MacGregor.

"Honourable Bill" - Captain Sir William Coddrington (Bart.)

All the above were Clan Line Masters..

"Captain Harte" - Captain Harte, D.S.C., R.N.; the Fleet Captain based at Head Office.

Yarpies (Jarpies) - Afrikaaners.

L. M. - Lourenço Marques in Mozambique.

"black hams" - Mozambique girls.

"Mother" Harper - Jimmy Harper, a famous Chief Steward (and homosexual).

"sign with P. & O." - an ironic threat! There's an old saying: "There's three sorts of ship at sea; the Merchant Navy, the Royal Navy - and P. & O."

"Scots Navy" - Clan Line.

"Rummage Squad" - the Customs team that searched the ship.

"Double-Header" - U.K.-Cape, Cape-Med, Med-Cape, Cape-home.

"Clan Alpine" - as a result of a storm surge, this ship ended up in a paddy-field.

"Mr Cayzer's Navy" - Clan Line.

"Sir Nic" - Sir Nicholas (later Lord) Cayzer, Managing Director of Cayzer-Irvine (British & Commonwealth Shipping).

"joining Bank Line" - another ironic threat! Bank Line boats were frequently away from home for two years or even longer.

RJC


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Subject: RE: Merchant Navy Songs
From: greg stephens
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 11:31 AM

Great stuff, Ross, very interesting. Keep it coming.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BLOOD ON THE ICE (SOUTH OF SOUTH GEORGIA)
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 11:39 AM

^^BLOOD ON THE ICE (SOUTH OF SOUTH GEORGIA)        
(Ron Baxter/anon)
(based on a fragment heard on the M.T. Hector Hawk)

Now our business is bloody,
The truth for to tell.
We're just a slaughterhouse,
Out on the swell.
There's no romance
As in times long gone by -
It's "Fire the harpoon!"
And another whale dies.

Then it's "Tow him alongside!"
And winch him on board.
Then the flensers get cutting
And the blood around us pours.
With the aid of the winches
His blubber it is torn,
Then he's stripped of his flesh
Right down to the bone.

Now the blood of the whale
And the white of the ice
Are there on our funnel,
As our fleet's device.
Though our business is bloody,
When all is done and said -
We all have our families
At home to keep fed.

Here on the Balaena,
We are stuck for eight months;
It's work, work and more work,
Then collapse into your bunks;
We're cruising around
In the snow, hail and sleet,
South of South Georgia,
On Hectors' whaling fleet.

Blood on the Ice: Notes (RB) :-

I heard an incomplete version of this on the M.T. (Motor Tanker) Hector Hawk, from an Ulsterman 2nd Engineer who had sailed many years before with the vessel's original owners, Hector Whaling. The company had been formed in 1938 when the Norwegian firm "Hektor" relocated to London. The tankers would sail to the South Atlantic laden with fuel oil for the start of the whaling season. While the catchers and the factory ship were working, the crew would clean tanks and return to London at the end of the season with a cargo of whale oil. When the company abandoned the whaling trade in the late fifties, its tankers were bought by Cayzer Irvine.

The Balaena - was the factory ship where the captured whales were brought for processing.

"---our fleet's device" - the Hector's house flag, painted on the funnel, was a rectangle divided diagonally, and coloured red on the top left, white on the bottom right.

Due to the fragmentary form in which I collected the song, I felt I should write some lines so that it made sense. Verses in italics* were definitely the ones I collected; some of the other lines may be too, but after this time I can't remember which were original and which were mine. Sorry! The original fragment was sung to the hymn tune "Slane" (Be Thou My Vision).

I believe (though with no evidence) that this is the last song "made up" on the British Whaling Fleet. I would guess it was made in the early fifties.

"Blood on the Ice" has been recorded by Hughie Jones on his latest CD "Seascape". The same track features on a compilation CD (titled "Blood on the Ice") of Ron Baxter's songs by various artists, both CDs available from The Chantey Cabin (http://www.chanteycabin.co.uk/).
Hughie used the "Slane" tune on his recording. For Red Duster's CD "Farewell to the Clan Line", Ross Campbell reset the song to his own tune.

Note (RJC):- John Bailey of Fleetwood continued working in the Merchant Navy until a couple of years ago. He relates the story of a young apprentice being left with the maintenance crew to over-winter at the whaling-station in South Georgia (cf Harry Robertson's "Wee Pot Stove" for the sort of conditions to be found there). The relief crew turned up in the spring as expected. However, somebody decided it would be a good joke to tell the apprentice that his trip home would have to wait till the next year. Before anyone realized what was happening, the boy took a shotgun, went round the back of the hut and killed himself.

RJC

italics* - pasting in lost my Word formatting - don't know the html for that - collected lines as recalled by Ron were:-
Verse 3, lines 1-4, verse 4, lines 1&2, 6-8


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Subject: RE: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 11:47 AM

Cheers, Joe, and thanks, Greg and the button.

As I said above, any memories, songs, verses or just odd lines that anybody can come up with will be very welcome. The smallest thing can trigger somebody else's recollection.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: KING LINE CAPTAIN
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 11:52 AM

^^KING LINE CAPTAIN
(Coll. Ron Baxter, 1966)

The King Line Captain sings this song;
"Balls up! Balls up!
The bloody engine has gone wrong,
So get those black balls up!"

Broken down again!
Broken down once more!
If the pig-iron polishers can't get it right -
Soon we'll be ashore!

Tune: Camptown Races

King Line Captain: Notes (RB)

King Line were B.& C.'s "tramp" outfit - in both meanings of the word!

The international signal for "I am not under command", i.e. "I have broken down" was two black balls, one over the other - this is the derivation of the term "balls up" - not many people know that!

RJC


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Subject: Lyr Add: SHAW-SAVILL'S BUCCANEERS
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 11:59 AM

^^SHAW-SAVILL'S BUCCANEERS
(Coll. Ron Baxter, 1972)

As down the quay at half-past three
Came Shaw-Savill's drunken crew -
They'd spent their sub in a dockside pub,
Having a beer or two;
But the time draws nigh, and a shout nearby,
That they all dread to hear;
"Come on, you bums, sailing day has come
For Shaw-Savill's Buccaneers!"

There was Dan McCool from Liverpool,
He was bo'sun of the gang.
For him you'd work - and you dare not shirk,
Or else your head he'd bang!
But Geordie Dick gave him some lip,
And we all shook with fear;
As Dan's mighty paw it broke the jaw
Of that Shaw-Savill's Buccaneer.

Now Bert and Joe were London boys,
And when drunk got fighting mad;
They'd knock you down for half-a-crown -
I tell you, they were bad!
But between these two, and I'll tell you true,
There was something mighty queer -
For they dressed in skirts, did those two flirts
Of Shaw-Savill's Buccaneers.

Now "Slow Starvation and Agony"
Is the firm with whom we sail.
And from Cardiff Bay out to Bombay,
We make all others quail;
So if you aren't rough, and if you aren't tough,
Then brother, don't come near!
If you value your life, don't sail, by Christ!
With Shaw-Savill's Buccaneers.

Shaw Savill's Buccaneers: Notes (RB)

Obviously this is a parody of "McAlpine's Fusiliers".

Shaw, Savill & Albion, a.k.a. "Slow Starvation and Agony", a.k.a."Shit and Shovell" traded from the U.K. to India and Australia.

I got this from two A.B.s on the M.V. King James in 1972. Each had a different version, and they almost came to blows over which was superior. Regrettably, I can't recollect the separate versions, and this is thus a collated representation of what they sang. One alternative line in the first verse ran "Come on, you cunts, get out of your bunks!"

Most of my songs I got from officers; "Shaw Savill's Buccaneers", "M.V. Hardship/M.V. Statesman" and "The Old Man is a Bugger" were collected from A.B.s, and they have a feel of the fo'c'sle rather than the quarterdeck.

"Shaw Savill's Buccaneers" has been recorded by Hughie Jones on his latest CD.


Ron adds:-
"I'm afraid I am not a very good "collector", as I didn't realise at the time that that is what I was doing. I just liked the songs, and made a point of asking if anbody knew more; when I found any, I either kept them in my head or occasionally wrote them down, I never bothered to record them at the time, or even to note the name of the singer(s). Even the year, and the ship or pub I got them from are mainly guesswork.

Along with the songs I have put down here, I used to have about six more written out, all non-Clan-Line songs (the reason I wrote them down). Unfortunately the book containing them all was stolen, along with my watch, in Lourenço Marques. One song was about the Blue Funnel Line, but that's about all I can now recall."

RJC


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE PHYLLIS BOWATER
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 12:09 PM

THE "PHYLLIS BOWATER"
^^
The "PHYLLIS BOWATER" sailed out from New York,
Gleaming and shining in her new painted coat.
For three days the crew had been working like mad,
To cover the rusty old patches she had.
For three months and more she'd been on the run;
From New York to "Newfie" and back she had come.
And each time the crew went out on the spree,
Up to Times Square, the ladies to see.

They'd had a good time, but just as we feared,
Venus's measles they soon appeared;
These "New York Gals" had taken their cash,
And in return gave them all a rash!
And so to the doctor they made their way;
He gave them the cure but they all had to pay.
So off to Times Square no longer they went,
For the Doctor and the ladies took every last cent.

As the "PHYLLIS BOWATER" pulled out of Brooklyn,
The Coast Guard Captain called "Get back on in!
You cannot sail away, painted like that!
So get back to your mooring! Do you hear me, Mac?"
Well, the "Old Man" could not understand
Why he'd been ordered back to the land;
But when he walked to the bow, he gave a great cry -
For in front of the name "PHYLLIS" was painted "SY"!


Phyllis Bowater: Notes (RB)

Tune: Villikins and his Dinah/Sweet Betsy from Pike
(adapted slightly for the second four lines of each verse)

The Bowater Paper Company's boats (mostly named for female members of the Bowater family) ran from Newfoundland, up the Great Lakes and down the east coast of America, carrying newsprint from the up-country paper mills to the various population centres.

This ballad appeared from nowhere across the Bowater fleet, and I believe it is based on fact. For the rest of the season, the Phyllis Bowater was known amongst the other ships' crews as the "Syphillis"!

RJC


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BARON LINE SONG
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 12:20 PM

THE BARON LINE SONG (adapted for singing by Ron Baxter & Ross Campbell, from the DT version)
^^
(Chorus)….Roll along you hungry bastards roll along.
To Basra, Hong Kong, Rio or Chittagong
"Ropey Ropners" may be fine,
But give me the Baron Line,
Roll along you hungry bastards roll along.

Oh, you may have sailed on Coasters,
And you may have been on Tramps,
You may have sailed on Trawlers,
On the great Newfoundland Banks,
You may have been on Tankers,
And had a terrible time,
But you've never yet, come through the 'Mill',
Till you've sailed the Baron Line.

(Chorus)….Roll along you hungry bastards roll along.
If you think you're going home, you're bloody wrong,
British Tankers may be fine,
But give me the Baron Line,
Roll along you hungry bastards roll along.

The First Mate was an ex-con,
And was 'spying' for a ship,
He saw the "Baron Murray"
Lying beside an old Coal Tip,
He asked the Skipper for a job,
Who said, "You'll do damn fine,
For we've plenty of room for bums and stiffs,
In the good old Baron Line".

(Chorus)….Roll along you hungry bastards roll along,
To the turning of the screw, we'll sing this song,
"Blue Star Fliers" may be fine,
But give me the Baron Line,
Roll along you hungry bastards roll along.

The Skipper came from Tokyo,
The Third Mate from Tiree,
The crew came down from Glasgow,
And the Greasers from Dundee,
Stewards off the Hong Kong Coast,
Apprentices from the Tyne,
Oh, you've never seen such a mixed up lot,
Till you've sailed the Baron Line.

(Chorus)….Roll along you hungry bastards roll along.
With the sweepings of the Pool this tub is thronged,
Though the London Greeks are fine,
Just give me the Baron Line,
Roll along you hungry bastards roll along.

Notes (RJC)

Ron had been looking for the Baron Line Song for quite a while. There was a related thread going for some time in the Mudcat forum which produced a couple of single verses before someone (anon GUEST whose father Arnis Boika sailed on the Baron Glenconner in the late '50s) supplied a more complete version. He referred to another website where he had found the words. I recall finding it at the time, but that seems to have disappeared since. We augmented the choruses and I came up with a tune which just seemed to fit.

RJC


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BANK LINE SONG
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 12:32 PM

THE BANK LINE SONG
Collected (Ron Baxter) from John Bailey of Fleetwood, 1999.

Tune:- Land of Hope and Glory

Blue for the colour of the ocean,
Red for the colour of our sweat;
There's the white line of starvation,
To help us to forget.
You think you're a merchant seaman,
When you're only a Bank Line bum!

Bank Line's house flag is half red, half blue with a diagonal white line.

RJC


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Subject: RE: Merchant Navy Songs
From: maldenny
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 01:24 PM

In the Blue Funnel Line (the Welsh navy) we used to sing "Pack my bag, pack my grip" with similar verses to the Clan Line, except that we sang the name of the various ships at the end of the verse -

"F*** the mate, the old man too
They both know what they can do
Bye bye Perseus".

We used to sing songs in the halfdeck (the midshipmen's and cadets quarters). One midshipman sang a blues:-

I came to sea 'cause I didn't have anything to lose,
But an old sea dog he quickly changed my views.
He said listen to me son and I'll tell you why
I've seen grown men break down and cry
Just like the sea moves to the sky, they're blue.
I've got those black-top Blue Funnel blues.


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Subject: RE: Merchant Navy Songs
From: kendall
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 02:45 PM

I used to know a couple of merchant seamen who were older than I, and one of them used to sing a song he learned in Sheep's Head Bay.

Oh the money that they pay us they say is mighty fine
They give us 50 dollars and take back 49
Oh, I don't want no more of Sheep's Head Bay
Oh how I wanna go home.

The shoes that they gave us they said was mighty fine
You ask for number 7's they give you number 9's oh I don't...etc.

The donuts that they fed us they said were mighty fine
Mine rolled off the table and killed a pal of mine...

The chicken that they fed us...etc
Mine jumped off the table and started marking time...


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Subject: RE: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 02:48 PM

Great, maldenny, thanks for that. Any more comes to mind, send it in.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 04:26 PM

Ross-

This is really a fine collection and I'll certainly look forward to more postings.

Are you primarily interested in 20th century Merchant Navy songs?

I should review your initial presentation.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 04:34 PM

Clan Alpine has been recorded by Les Sullivan on Echoes of Lowlands

I know because I've been recorded singing "Screw, screw, screw" in harmony!

Kitty


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE END OF THE CLAN ALPINE
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 09:01 PM

THE END OF THE CLAN ALPINE
(Ron Baxter)
^^
The Clan Alpine, in Chittagong, it was her final run
She was heading for the 'breakers' out there in Taiwan
But the monsoon it came early, force 9, with a rolling swell---
From the Bengal Bay, it raced her way, now her story I will tell

Chorus:- For She'd a palm tree on the bow, a palm tree on the bow
             And through a paddy field ploughed her keel, with a palm tree on the bow.

Her Master rang for half ahead, and both anchors he had laid
But still she started dragging, and the Chief said "I'm afraid---
We've lost water suction, though I cannot tell you how."
"I'll tell you why!" the Captain cried "we've a palm tree on the bow!"

Chorus

One mile from the river, when the water it went down
Hard and fast in that paddy field the Clan Alpine was found.
Then a 'Jobs worth' he arrested them, on the mast he nailed a writ
(Though it sounds surreal) for importing steel without the right permit!

Chorus

And of course the farmer from the owners did demand
Rent for the grounded ship that they'd parked on his land!
There they sold her to the breakers so her fate was signed and sealed
So there's no trace of Clan Alpine now in that paddy field!

Chorus

Note (RB) Another true tale of the Clan line

Note (RJC) Ron has passed various song lyrics to many singers over the years, usually with the instruction "Put your own tune to it." As a result of this policy, one of his songs by now has at least five different settings in existence, by different singers.

To explain why Ron is unable to pass on tunes with the words, some background info – Ron was a choirboy in his younger days, with a clear, strong voice – but when his voice broke, it really broke – somehow he lost the ability to self-correct, and his pitch-control went all over the place (a serious defect for a potential singer/songwriter!) At some of the early Fylde Folk Festivals, he won the Trumpeting Elephant Award at the annual "Worst Singer in the World" competitions. Sadly, even that did not prove a long-term achievement. Popular (sceptical?) demand led to him giving more and more demonstrations at local folk clubs – gradually his voice improved slightly, leading to his ignominious rejection from the next competition, when the audience's perception was that he was faking it – practically a hanging offence. He lost his crown to the infamous and late-lamented Mary Smith of Weeton, Lancashire. A succession of truly tone-deaf squawkers has ensured that Ron never regained his former eminence. His voice has settled down to the point that he can give a quite tolerable rendition of "Amsterdam" or "M.V. Hardship" (due in soon from New Zealand), but you still might not want to sit in front of him at a singaround!

As Herga Kitty pointed out, a version of the Clan Alpine song can be found on Les Sullivan's CD. I missed Les's visit to Fleetwood Folk Club, so I don't know what tune he set this to. "Coming through the Rye" would just about work. And Kitty, my version hasn't got the "screw, screw, screw" lines – any other variations you can hear?

Somewhere I have a box full of hand-written scraps from Ron, some of which became fully-worked songs, some were reworked by him after I reached a "set" version – so it is quite possible that some of the songs I post in this thread will have alternate words/verses that I'm not aware of – or have lost/forgotten. Any remedial contributions gratefully accepted.

RJC


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MARY (Jon Campbell)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 09:50 PM

Here's one from Rhode Island's Jon Campbell who spent part of his mis-spent youth working on ships like this:
^^
Words by Jon Campbell
As recorded on CD KEEP ON FISHING, © 2000
Tune: reminds me of Stan Rogers' "Lock-keeper"

The Mary

She was built back in the forties, to help win in the War;
She was just a coastal tanker, never ventured far from shore;
And if you saw her on the Hudson, you'd ask what she was for,
Because she looked a lot like what she was, a floating dinosaur.
And she took a load of benzene from Bayonne to Hackensack,
And the bunker down to Brooklyn and the high-test coming back;
See the Captain up there ringing bells, like a trolley on the track,
With the scale built up like calluses, and the fire in the stack.

She could scatter schools of Whitefish when the screws began to turn,
And she'd always blow a smoke ring when the stack began to burn,
And you'd have to shut the engine down before she'd back astern;
I guess now all the tricks to handle her, no one else will learn;
Now up in the wheelhouse is the silence of the bell;
No more passage to Poughkeepsie from the Congo to the Kills;
Though the master knows the vessel from the radar to the keel,
And a man's a man for all of that, a ship is merely steel.

And the Coast Guard says her days are through, to the smelter she must go,
To become guardrails out in Iowa, or to plow New Hampshire snow,
And she'll go where they are wanting steel, her last trip has been made;
They'll be cutting up the Mary; she's just a million razor blades;
And at dawn some sunny morning her next trip shall begin,
As she rides the crest above your lip, the trough below your chin,
And she's at last a shiny cutter riding in a foam so sleek,
And may the Mary still go lightly as she sails across your cheek.

Weird last verse but that's Jon!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 10:18 PM

Lovely song, Charley

And I've seen your photograph, Charley: I'd guess that neither you nor me nor Ron will know the touch of Mary!

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 08:36 AM

Ross-

Well, I suspect that Jon has had more than one "close shave" in his life.

Barry Finn and Neil Downey should be checking out this thread. They've been singing a great container ship song from the Caribbean called "Venzuela to Trinidad."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: radriano
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 11:34 AM

You're wrong, Ross.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 11:50 AM

Radriano-

You should post your definitive version of "Firing the Mauretania" with your notes.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE OLD RED DUNSTER
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 03:22 PM

Here's one I harvested from a Guest here named Ted back in 2005 which appears to be of World War 2 vintage, from the North Atlantic convoys:

Words by John Archbold, of Toronto
Tune: after "Pop-Eye the Sailor Man"

The Old Red Duster

I remember the day
That I climbed the gangway,
My new coat and jacket so clean;
No bacon and eggs,
Till I got my sea legs,
My first trip, my god, I was green.

Chorus:

It's the old red duster for me,
I've no use for the brass-hat navy;
You can keep your salutes
And your spit polished boots,
It's the old red duster for me.


On many's the ship,
I've made many's the trip,
On oceans and seas, far and wide;
Many ports, near and far,
Been thrown from the bar,
And many's the young girl beguiled.

I sailed in the war,
Like my uncle before ,
From Britain, right down to Bombay;
I shouldered my bag,
I sailed for the flag ,
The glory, the medals ... and the PAY!

I was pulled from the pool,
I was nobody's fool,
There was a jaunt up to Murmansk for me;
But the Union said, "No!
There's a fault, you can't go!"
It's the Union forever for me.

This sturdy old tramp's
Got a foc'sl that stamps,
Her plates are half sprung and they leak;
The food's always bad,
And the Master's gone mad,
And the owner's a bastard, and cheap.

I've sweated and slaved,
At this engine I've raged,
Nursing this cripple along;
For her joints, they're a-creaking,
And her glands they're a-leaking
At six knots, she's racing along.

I've been in the hold,
In the heat and the cold,
All day and all night as well;
And when my time draws near,
I've nothing to fear,
For I've been where it's hotter than hell.

So now you all know,
Why the good sailors go,
Merchant seamen to be;
If you want any more,
Like what come before,
You can bloody well sing it to me.

"old red duster" refers to the British commercial shipping flag

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 06:18 PM

the "old red duster" thread has more info on John Archbold's song. Did you ever figure out a tune for this? Or what tune Bob Walser uses? I've got one of his CDs somewhere but I don't think this is on it.

"A Fine Hunting Day" or "Manchester Rambler" setting would probably work.

I've got a feeling I've come across a shorter version somewhere, but I haven't found any trace of it on my computer.

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 08:17 PM

Bugger!

I still did not correct the 2nd verse of the "Old Red Duster" which should be:

On many's the ship,
I've made many's the trip,
On oceans and seas, calm and wild–
Many ports, near and far,
Been thrown from the bar,
And many's the young girl beguiled.

Good thing you have editing powers on this thread!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 09:59 PM

I'll sort it out eventually, Charley. I'm currently wrestling with my email server which has just lost a huge letter before I got to the "send" key.
Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 11:16 PM

Ron Baxter points out that the "Clan Alpine" on Les Sullivan's CD is a 19th century vessel, and not the one that ended up in a paddy field in Chittagong.

Ron also claims that his voice has improved not just "slightly", but "greatly". Looking back through my notes above, the "slightly" was inteded to refer to the time when he first started to lose his evil "Worst Singer" powers, and indeed "greatly" would reflect the current position. For an independent assessment, there was an approving comment on Ron's contribution to the Monday afternoon singaround at the Stork in the Glasson Maritime Festival - Easter '08 thread, with which I whole-heartedly agree - a great parody, well presented.

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 09:35 AM

Here's an interesting attempt back in 1918 to revive "chantie" singing aboard the Merchant Navy:

How Young Americans Are Taught To Man Our New Merchant Marine, 1918

Emergency Fleet News, published by the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation, Philadelphia. May 20, 1918
[Newsletter written for shipyard employees]

Another interesting detail of this service is the chantie singing. On the principle that music improves team work, the United States Shipping Board has appointed an official chantie instructor, Stanton H. King, of Boston, whose duty is to revive chantie singing among our merchant sailors on both steam and sail vessels. Mr. King is considered the best known chantie singer in this country, and has been singing these old sea work songs at a Boston mission for years. He not only knows the old chanties, but how to get the "punch" out of them, and teach them to others.

He is an old salt himself, got his experience in deepwater Yankee ships nearly 40 years ago, and has also served in the United States Navy. For years the chantie singing at his meetings in Boston has been famous, and now he is teaching our new merchant sailors such old sea songs as "Shenandoah," "Bound for the Rio Grande," "Blow the Man Down," "Paddy Doyle," and "Reuben Ranzo."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Barry Finn
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 06:44 PM

Here's the one you mentioned Charley. It's from Roger's days as a merchant seaman. He was crew aboard the Motor Ship Tanker Borjholt. She carried crude from Venezuela to the refineries on Trinidad. Roger is a regular at the Tuesdays night shanty sings in Gloucester (USA) & has also written some other dandies. One about the Flying Blue Line thats got a great ring to it too.

    Venezuela To Trinidad (words & music by Roger Hussey)

On the Venezuela to Trinidad run (Trinidad run)(this tag repeats)
Our ship goes to hell, we're all having way to much fun (way to much fun)

Chorus:
Venezuela to Trinidad, Trinidad to Venezuela

Venezuela is flamenco an' hot guitar strums (hot guitar strums)
Trinidad is calypso an' loud steel drum (loud steel drum)

Carry crude oil to Trinidad refineries (refineries)
To Venezuela for more crude we run back empty (run back empty)

For most tankers it's long at sea short time in port (short time in port)
But we've tied up long an' our sea time is short (sea time is short)

When we tie up the bar girls an' taxi cabs come
Here comes a weekend of riot an' rum

Lars is locked in his cabin, the rich owner's son
He's a drunken exile at 31

If we're rowdy ashore we end up in jail
Rum an' pesos from Lars an' we're soon out on bail

Miss our sailing, hung over, roll over an' then
Wait a week, stay drunk, an' our ship's back again

Beg the purser, please just one more advance
What with girls an' booze, your wallet does not stand a chance

After 8 trips the chief's at the end of his wits
After 10 trips they send us back home to refit

So it's pack up an' back to the hiring hall
An' it's farewell to flamenco an' steel drums all


Great thread Ross. Richard should be piping in with his take on "Firing the Mauretania". I got the version I sing from Richard's CD "Time Ashore Is Over", I'm singing on the chorus. Stephen Canright takes the lead on it. When steve was in the Army he was a reporter & was assigned to do an article on Elvis, so he became the King's Chauffeur. Sorry for the drift. Anyway, you can read more on the
Mauretania here + the words, in a thread of Richard's CD, scroll way down. Turns out that I could've picked up the song in my own backyard from Jeff Warner if I knew he sang it instead of crossing the country for it.

I just spoke to my singing partner Neil & asked him to drop in ont his thread, he'd be very interested too. He just put the words of a song to music written back in the 70's by his friend Buzz Smith. Instead of it being a "merchant Navy" song it's more of a "Royal Navy" song. It's about the ill-fated convoy "CW9" & the coal shipping disaster during WWII in the English Channel. I've gotten to really like the song, may end up stealing the lead on it, so I can sing it when Neil's not about. Neil started a thread on CW9 but I can't find it.

Another "Navy" song which I love is Neil's Heavy Cruiser which we recorded on our "Fathom This CD.

Heavy Cruiser (copyright by Neil Downey)

Oh, when I was young & in my prime>
I wanted to sail on a ship of the line, (2X)
So I signed on a heavy cruiser

CH. So gunners spin your turrets round
And let me hear that battle sound
We'll meet the enemy & we'll take him down
With the guns of a heavy cruiser

When I was a lad just like you
I proudly wore the navy blue (2X)
When I served on a heavy cruiser

Though we were only 17
We were a four-0 war machine (2X)
And the crew of a navy cruiser

For many yrs we sailed the seas
Preserving peace & liberty
A mighty force for all to see
The mighty heavy cruiser

And now I'm old & turning grey
Long ago I stowed my blues away
But I still stand tall & proudly say
I served on this heavy cruiser


Barry


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Barry Finn
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 06:47 PM

Charlie, I'm glad you mentioned those old chanty sings in Boston. My Mother's uncle was a commander in the Navy & she mentioned he used to get togther with a bunch of other Navy officers & sing shanties back in the 40's or so. I'll have to see if he knew anything about the older days.

Barry


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 11:40 AM

Ross-

Here's a poem from a medical officer who served in World War 1 in the U.S. Navythat focused on the West Indies tramps:

Poem by Burt Franklin Jenness
From OCEAN HAUNTS, edited by Burt Franklin Jenness,
Empire Publishing Co., New York, US, © 1934, p. 45.

Sea Traders


Droppin' down to Rio on a buckin' wooden tramp;
Takin' water for'r'd till her rotten planks were damp;
Pitchin' like a bronco from the time we left the Keys;
Listin' like a kettle when she took the quarter seas;
Loaded to the gunnels, making four knots an hour;
Steadied with her stays'l, but swaying like a flower;
Half a crew o' Cubans, an' a pair o' Swedish mates;
That's the way we traded from Fuego to the States.

Callin' at Jamaica for a scuttle-butt o' rum;
Lazin' at fiestas till we spent our shippin' sum;
Stricken with the fever, from the islands where it grew;
Fightin' for our rations in a lazy, drunken crew;
Reelin' round the Indies, makin' port or makin' sail;
Beatin' up to windward in a Carribean gale;
Dippin' down to Rio, Buenos Aires or the Straits –
That's the way we traded from Fuego to the States.

I've adapted it for singing with quite a few changes: Click here for lyrics and MP3 Sample!

I'm not sure if it's a good fit for this thread. So feel free to hit the delete key.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,SAILORON
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 04:22 AM

Charlie, 'Sea Trader' reminds me of Kiplings 'The Bolivar', similar sentiments. Sailoron


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 08:23 AM

Sailoron-

"The Ballad of the Bolivar," does share some similarities with "Sea Traders." I wonder what tune would pull it together?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 11:03 AM

This song was collected from a navy sailor but would seem to have some general application:

A parody of "Down Below" by Sydney Carter, ©, 1958
From GREY FUNNEL LINE, edited by Cyril Tawney, p. 35-36.

Corrosion Has Set In

Corrosion has set in,
Down below,
The plates are getting thin,
Down below;
There's a leak in the forepeak,
And how those bulkheads creak,
I hope we last a week,
Down below!

Boiler room's a-leaking…
Crack is nicely seeping…
Fire and bilge will do their best
While the diver's getting dressed,
Splinter-box will do the rest…

Chippy wears a frown…
It's coming in again…
They've taking up a shore
To the for'ard naval store
And they're sawing up some more…

Chippy's got an ulcer…
It plays him up a treat…
His feet are getting wet
As he watches concrete set,
But he's short of "aggreget"…

The ship is like a sieve…
I hope they're PST…
For the lifeboats they inflate
Premature. Can this be fate?
Oh, we're in a ghastly state…

Making a "splinter-box" is a way of dealing with a small hole in the ship's side; a steel T-piece is passed outside the hole and a steel box bolted to it from the inside. "Taking up a shore" is a reference to further reinforcing the splinter-box with wood or concrete. "Chippy" is of course the ship's carpenter. "PST" indicates that a sailor has passed his mandatory swimming test.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 03:29 PM

Ross, Not seen you in many years, since the days when I sang at Fleetwood Folk Club and Fylde Festival. This is a really interesting collection, thanks for putting it on here. I look forward to seeing more. Keep up the good work. Burl.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Joe_F
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 07:51 PM

Kendall: "Gee how I wanna go home" is an adaptation of a U.S. Army song going back at least to W.W. I, with the chorus "I don't want no more of army life...". Another stanza:

The coffee that they serve us
They say is mighty fine --
It's good for cuts and bruises
And tastes like iodine.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 04:01 AM

Charlie, ref: the 'Bolivar', I have over the years tried several tunes[traditional] to it. Many tunes will fit, the problem I've come up with is that the rhyming patten is different in every other verse, and I'm not clever enough to find a tune that suits both.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 08:43 AM

Ron-

With regard to them shifting rhymes in "Bolivar," I would be sorely tempted to resort the lines so they all run AABB. I probably would end up dropping a few lines or verses as well, so that one ends up with a more manageable song. This kind of crude surgery, of course, is not to everyone's taste (Meddle with Kipling! How dare you?).

My favorite tune for now would be "On the Range of the Buffalo" but others would work as well.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,Sailor Ron
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 11:55 AM

Ref:parody of 'Down below' it reminded me of a similar song [sorry Ross, but until I read the RN version I'd clean forgot this].

At the bottom of the hull             Ch. Down below
That's where you'll find the bilge   Ch. Down below
Full of rubbish, full of grime
Full of sludge, and full of grime
Full of shit, O never mind!          Ch. Down below

There's cockroached galore
There dead rats by the score
There's things that have been seen
Far worse than your worse dreams
The thought 'ud make you scream.

When the bilges overflow
It's down there you must go
The apprentice was sent down
Then we heard a dreadful sound
And not a trace was found.

But sometimes you will hear
A tale to make you cheer
How on the 'Clan MsGill
They found a gold bar down the bilge
So there's hope for us still .


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 02:07 PM

Ron-

Wonderful! I've never heard a bilge song before. Another need fulfilled.

The original song which the parodies are evidently based on is one credited to London sewage workers, with wonderful observations about the "product" being supplied from various neighborhoods.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 10:26 PM

The model for both Cyril Tawney's parody and the one dredged up (how appropriate!) from Ron's memory is DOWN BELOW (Sydney Carter). It was used fairly recently in a TV documentary on the guys who clear accumulated grease illegally dumped from fast-food shops into the drains of London.

Working in the bilges obviously brings out the same love/hate relationship at sea! Derek Gifford introduces the pump shanty "Leaky Ship" with the story of the old salt checking the bilges before signing on a ship. Foul-smelling bilges would indicate tight seams, while sweet-smelling bilges would indicate a "Leaky Ship", with correspondingly much more work on the pumps, the pumped-out foul water being continuously replaced by fresh sea-water through the cracks in the walls of the ship.

Any more down in the memory-bilges, Ron? Good to see you in the Steamer this evening.

Charley, I hadn't checked back here for a couple of days, but the "Range of the Buffalo" is the tune that's been running round my head this week. How did that happen? I just replayed your "Sea Traders" mp3 which is quite different.

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Barry Finn
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 02:09 AM

Another with just a brief mention of the bilge.

When My Spell Is over

When my spell on board the Carthaginian is over, no more sailoring for me
And when I've left this goddam hooker oh how happy I will be

No more scrubbing deck on ship's side no more shinning dirty brass
You can go aft & tell Van Hope the skipper he can shove this ship……….

No more curry & rice on Monday, no more salty asphalt tea
No more ham & eggs on Thursday no more sailoring for me

No more cleaning out the bilges, no more shinning dirty brass
You can go aft & tell the skipper he can shove this ship ………..

I got this from an old Cape Horner from West Geelong, George Herbert back in the late 70's. He was English & started out in the Baltic trades as a cabinboy.
He just called it an old ditty, so I don't know for sure what it's really called. Van Hope happened to be the fella in charge of the restoration of the brig Carthiaginian, a museum ship tied up quayside at Lahinia, Maui, Hawaii, & that's where I met George & he was singing this on board at a party. Weither George refrained from singing the end of the line because it was vulgar or weither it really had the Tra La La La that he actually sang at the end of those lines with I'll never know, he wouldn't sing nor speak vulgarity in the presence of women, that wouldn't stop him from singing the song though.

Barry


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 09:00 AM

Ross-

I used "The Range of the Buffalo" tune for adapting the John Masefield poem "The Ballad of John Silver" for singing, not "Sea Traders." It took me some time to figure that one out but fortunately I have a website with such references!

Barry-

Really lovely!

Reminds me of a little U.S. Coastguard ditty I once composed:

I remember well how our old chief said,
As he gently stirred me from my bed,
"Rise up, me lad, and clean the head!"
Now, those swabbing days are gone.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 11:46 AM

Barry - I've been looking for something to sing to the "When this Bloody War is Over/What a Friend We Have in Jesus" tune. When My Spell is Over might be it. Would George Herbert have claimed/admitted authorship? If any more lines come to the surface let us know.

Burl - good to hear from you, and glad to note you're still singing occasionally. Any chance of you getting up Fleetwood way? As well as Fleetwood Folk Club and Fylde Folk Festival, I remember you at one of the very early Lancaster Maritime Festivals, singing shanties round the boat in the basement. (See the Glasson thread for some details of the trials and tribulations the organisers have faced to keep that going).

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Barry Finn
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 12:32 PM

Hi Ross
No, George wouldn't have claimed ownership, he was always just passing songs on. The tune is close to "When This Bloody War Is Over". Seeing as George has been 6 ft under for some yrs now I don't think anymore will be surfacing from his end.

Hi Burl
I'll couple my hello's to you too, nice to see you surfacing here, all my best.

Barry


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 11:37 AM

As I was a'walking down by K.G.5.
I saw an old trampship tied up along side
The M.V. hardship that were her name
She were bound out to Kiwi and back home again.
CHORUS
Pound away, pound away, from London to Kiwi is a hell of a way.

Saild down the channel on a cold frosty day
Then rounded Ushant & it's South cross the Bay.
The 2nd stewards 'fruit' and the cook he is too
The bugger each other and the rest of the crew.

There's nothing for dinner, there's nothing for tea
But that fat cook he keeps winking at me
Him and that steward are a bloody disgrace
Just see the look on the galley boys face!

The Mate is a bastard the Seconds the same
The Bosun has Work as his middle name
As for the Old Man well no one can say
'Cause no bugger's seen him since sailing day.

When we got to Kiwi we all went ashore
Of to Ma Gleeson's to get us a whore
But when we got there the pickings were poor
'cause the P.S.N.C. lads had been there before.

Now the voyage has ended in West India Dock
To Charlie Brown's with our pay-off we'll flock
Soon we may sign with Ropner's or Glen
But the M.V. hardship we won't see again.

There are numerous varients of this one.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 11:28 PM

To continue - sorry, I've been away for a couple of weeks. Spent the first week visiting my brother in Islay. Managed to catch a couple of the regular music and song sessions there - Sunday nights in the Port Charlotte Hotel and Tuesday nights in the Lochside, Bowmore.

At the latter, Paul Hathaway (brewer at Islay Ales) gave an excellent rendition of a song I hadn't come across before - the late Rod Shearman's "Sail Away" - in the DT here . A great song, it's on Rod's album "Here's to Friends" - I'll have to ask the Chantey Cabin if they've got any. That was quick - they do! Also "Off to Sea Again".

Rod Shearman sailed with P&O in the fifties, and "Sail Away" gives a good impression of the seaman's travels and experiences. I've heard a few people singing his songs, never got to hear the man himself.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: M.V. HARDSHIP
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 11:50 PM

M.V. HARDSHIP        [Kiwi]        Tune:- Thrashing Machine

Heard from an A.B. on board the M.V. King James, 1972.

As I was a'walking down by K.G.V.,
I saw an old tramp ship tied up alongside.
The M.V. Hardship, that was her name,
She was bound out to"Kiwi" and back home again.

Chorus:-
        Pound away! Pound away!
        From London to Kiwi is a hell of a way.

Sailed down the channel on a cold frosty day.
We rounded old Ushant, then south 'cross the bay.
The 2nd Steward's "fruit" and the cook he is too;
They sit on their arses with damn all to do.

Chorus

There's nothing for dinner, there's nothing for tea,
And that 2nd Steward keeps winking at me.
He and the cook are a bloody disgrace;
Just see the look on the galley-boy's face!

Chorus

The Mate is a bastard, the Second's a drunk
The Third reads dirty books in his bunk;
As for the Old Man, no-one can say;
No bugger's seen him since we sailed away.]

Chorus

When we got to "Kiwi" we all went ashore,
Off to "Ma Gleeson's" to get us a whore;
But when we got there, the picking's were poor,
'Cause the P.S.N.C. lads had got there before.

Chorus

The Bo'sun cried "Smoko!", the lads cried "Righto!"
And straight down the gangway, shoreside we did go..
The Bo'sun he swore that we'd all get the sack -
But we didn't give a damn, 'cause we're not going back.

Chorus

We landed in London at the end of the trip;
We got our pay-off and ashore we all slipped;
Vowed in "Charlie Brown's", with a pint to our lips,
That we'd seen the last of the M.V. Hardship.
        
Chorus


Notes (RJC) This is the version of "M.V. Hardship" that I usually sing, "Kiwi" is of course New Zealand, K.G.V (Kay Gee Five) is the King George the Fifth Dock (now the site of London City Airport).

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: M.V. HARDSHIP (2)
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 11:54 PM

M.V. Hardship [Yarpie]                Tune:- Thrashing Machine

As I was a'walking down by K.G.V.,
A rusty old bucket there I espied
The Rustenburg Castle, that was her name,
She was bound out to "Yarpie" and back home again.
Chorus:-
        Pound away! Pound away!
        From Hull down to Yarpie is a hell of a way.

Sailed down the channel on a cold frosty day.
We rounded old Ushant, then south 'cross the bay.
We know she's a "fruit" boat, and to prove that it's true
The Chief Steward's one and the cook he is too;
Chorus

The Mate is a bastard, the Second's a drunk
The Third he plays with himself in his bunk;
And as for the Old Man, well, no-one can say;
For no bugger's seen him since we sailed away.
Chorus

There's little for breakfast, and half that for tea,
And that Chief Steward keeps winking at me.
He and the cook are a bloody disgrace;
Just see the look on the galley-boy's face!
Chorus

When we got to Durban we all went ashore,
Down into "Matelot's" to get us a whore;
But when we got there, the picking's were poor,
'Cause the Safmarine cowboys had got there before.
Chorus

Now the holds are all loaded, the hatch boards are down,
And we're sailing away, out from Durban town.
Next trip we'll sign on with Bank Line or Ben,
But the old "Rusty Bucket" won't see me again.
Chorus

Now the voyage is over in East India Dock;
To "Charlie Brown's" with our pay-off we flock.
Soon we'll sail out, with Ropners or Glen,
But the M.V. Hardship won't see me again.
Chorus


Notes (RJC) - "Yarpie" is South Africa. Some variations, but not a lot different from the "Kiwi" version.

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 12:04 AM

After Ron posted the first "M.V. Hardship" version above, he emailed me some more notes:-

M.V. HARDSHIP email

Ross, I've posted M.V. Hardship on your perm. thread on Mud Cat.
As mentioned in your introduction I had versions from Union Castle & Harrison's. I've never bothered with them because I've always preferred the 'Hardship' version, but, just for the record, here they are.

Union Castle version

As I was a' walking by Southampton quay
The 'Rustbucket' Castle I happened to see.
She was bound out to Cape Town & then to Durban
Where she'd load up with fruit and come back again.

Ch. Pound away, pound away
From England to Yarpie is a hell of a way.

2nd, 3rd, 4th verses as in 'Hardship'

When we got to Durban we all went ashore
Piled in to 'Mat lot's' for a drink & a whore
But when we got there the pickings were poor
'Cause the Bullard & King lads had got there before.

Now our voyage from Yarpie has come to an end
But of Castle fruit boats be warned my friend
'Cause for six weeks we've been anchored here
As a floating warehouse stuck off Southend pier.


'Rustbucket Castle'…..Rustenburg Castle [or any of the old 'R' class fruit boats.]
Yarpie….Jarpie [in Afrikaans] farmer, seaman's name for South Africa.
Bullard & King….. at one time a First class passenger line to the Cape, but post war went down in the world, having a rag bag of cargo ships, bought by Cayzer Irvine and then transferred to the S. African Flag as 'Springbok Line'.
'…off Southend Pier'…fruit boats occasionally did not unload straight away, but were kept 'hanging around' until their cargo was sold.


These give a few more variations, and a bit more background to the fruit transports.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: M.V. STATESMAN
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 12:15 AM

M.V. STATESMAN                                Tune:- Thrashing Machine

The bloke in the "Pool" got it fucking wrong!
He got me to sign up with Harrison's;
I saw her funnel, black, white and red,
And her name, the "Statesman" on her counter I read.
Chorus:-        
                Pound away, pound away,
                From lighthouse to shitehouse is a hell of a way.

There's fuck-all for dinner, fuck-all for tea,
But the fucking cook he's winking at me;
He and the steward are a fucking disgrace;
Just see the look on the galley-boy's face.
Chorus

The Mate is a bastard, the Second's a drunk,
The Third he's wanking himself in his bunk;
The Old Man he's smiling, the fucking old sod;
Three day's out and we're all in the Log.
Chorus

The Bo'sun said "Smoko!", the lads said "Righto!"
It's down the gangway and fuck off ashore.
He stood there, screaming we'd all get the sack,
So we just turned and shouted "Fuck off!"
Chorus

She's fucking rusty, she's fucking slow;
Fucking ten knots is the best she can go'
But the trip it is over, my pay-off has come,
So it's off to the pub and "Fuck off, Harrison's".
Chorus

Notes(RB):-

This is a Liverpool version of the "Harrison's " song (M.V. Hardship). Unlike most of the other songs I collected, this is a "lower-deck" song - I got virtually all the others from officers. I got most of this version from a lad in "Celtic Cross" - though I had heard it when I was at sea.

Note (RJC):- Ron submitted songs and notes to Roy Palmer when he was revising the Oxford Book of Sea Songs (republished as Boxing the Compass). Receiving a complimentary copy from Roy with thanks for his contributions, Ron was looking forward to showing off the book with his collected songs in print at last. He was a bit dismayed to find Roy had included the above song unexpurgated, thus severely limiting the range of sisters, cousins and aunts to whom the book could be shown!

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: MOONING SONG
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 02:49 PM

MOONING SONG (Coll. Ron Baxter)
Tune:- A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

I may be right, I may be wrong,
But I'm perfectly willing to swear;
A Cunard steward "mooned" at me!
Trousers down and bottom bare!
(I know 'cos I was there -
Trousers down, arse in the air).

NOTE (RB) Collected circa 1968 on a Clan boat. The first time I heard it, "A Castle Boat steward" was mentioned, but subsequent renditions referred to Cunard, and I think that was probably the original version. Rumour has it that when the Queen Mary made her last trip from New York, over one hundred stewards "mooned" to the quay as the ship pulled away.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE OLD MAN IS A BUGGER
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 02:55 PM

THE OLD MAN IS A BUGGER
(Coll. Ron Baxter)        
Tune:- "Deutschland über Alles"

Oh, the Old Man is a bugger!
And the Mate is one as well.
The Purser is a robbing bastard -
How we wish he'd go to Hell!
Bo'sun Jack, he is an "alcy" -
He sees snakes crawling up the wall.
Our two stewards are both Nancies -
Sue and Doris they are called.

We've got cockies in the sugar;
We've got rat-shit in our tea;
Last night's stew had some meat in it -
The cat is missing, surprisingly.
In the bilge lives something nasty,
The thought of it just makes us wince.
The 'prentice went down there last Friday;
No-one here has seen him since!

Note (RB) Collected on M.V. King James, 1972

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: UNION-CASTLE SONG
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 03:19 PM

UNION-CASTLE SONG
(Coll. Ron Baxter)
Tune:- Red Sails in the Sunset

Pink hulls on the ocean;
Pink hulls on the sea;
A Castle boat steward
He fancies me.

Note (RB) Collected circa 1968, on a Clan boat. Union-Castle boats had lilac (pink) hulls, and, like most passenger ships, were full of gay stewards.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: AN OLD RED DUSTER
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 03:59 PM

AN OLD RED DUSTER
(Coll. Ron Baxter)
Tune:- These foolish Things

The tattered remnants of an old Red Duster
The chaos when we tried to muster
Our legless drunken crew
These foolish things remind me of you.

Those rummage squads that gave us shakedowns
Those days drifting with engine breakdowns
Those engineers who'd not a clue
These foolish things remind me of you.

Those leaks we plugged with cement boxes
Those rats that ran around the hatches
Did the cook use them in his stew?
These foolish things remind me of you.

Those two stewards Big Al and Boris
Though they answered to Sue and Alice
There was something queer about those two
These foolish things remind me of you.

To the breakers we should have brought her
But 'Johnnie the Greek' he went and bought her!
O how we laughed then bid adieu
These foolish things remind me of you.

Note (RJC) Another song recently dredged up from Ron's memory banks. There is a similarly-titled song in the Mudcat forums (but completely different) THE OLD RED DUSTER (John Archbold) in an old "Sea Shanties" thread or here, contributed by JA's son Ted. (Also listed in this thread above by Charley Noble).


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Subject: Lyr Add: GOODBYE, SCOTTISH TANKERS
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 05:45 PM

GOODBYE, SCOTTISH TANKERS
(Coll. Ron Baxter)
Tune:- A Wee Deoch an Dorus

Goodbye, Scottish Tankers, goodbye, Clan Line too;
Ever since I joined up I've been mucked around by you;
Your gennies are a failure; you're engines are a farce;
And as for the Union-Castle, you can stick it up your arse.


The last word was frequently substituted by the following;

                Cayzer-ah, zer-ah,                Tune:- Qué sera, sera
                If you must go to sea,
                Don't sail with B. & C.
                Cayzer-ah, zer-ah.


Notes (RB):- gennies = generators; Cayzer - the holding company that owned B.& C. - British & Commonwealth Shipping, the group that owned Clan Line, Hector's Whaling, Union Castle, King Line, Scottish Shire Line, Scottish Tankers, Houston Lines, and managed Bowaters' ships.

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 06:45 PM

Bits and pieces:-

"T" on the funnel, no tea on my plate,                Tune:- Fire Down Below
The Old Man makes a fortune out of our "rate".


You've heard of "Hungry Hogarth's"                Tune:- don't know
The worst feeders on the sea;
Their salt beef sailed with Nelson,
On board the Victory.


There's a hundred thousand bastards in the old Transvaal,
And most sail with SAFMARINE..                Tune:- Sally Mahray



Another well-known Clan Line ditty:-

Oh, I love a lassie, a bonnie black Madrasi,
She's as black as the hob-stones out of Hell;
She's as black as charcoal and she shafferells her arsehole
With a chota tora pani from the well.

Chota tora pani - a little bit of water.

Note (RJC):- Mudcatter Jake contributed a further Clan line fragment to the "Baron Line" thread - Jake's song

Just an old Clan Line steamer,
That has seen better days
And her engines were a wonder to behold.
But when the angels above,
Give her a shove.
She'll get us to the UK on time.

I've PM'd Jake to see if this thread brings out any further memories.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: HARRISON'S SONG
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 06:51 PM

HARRISON'S SONG                                
(Coll. Ron Baxter)
Tune:- Early in the Morning

Two of fat and one of lean
On our funnel can be seen.
But how happy we would be
To have the reverse for us tea.

Chorus:-
That's what we get from Harrison's ,
That's what we get from Harrison's ,
That's what we get from Harrison's ,
Got from Tosh and Josh.


Note (RB) Heard in Atlantic House (Catholic Seaman's Mission), Liverpool, circa 1970. T. & J. Harrison's funnels were black with white/red/white bands.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: I'M A TRAMP SHIP
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 06:55 PM

I'M A TRAMP SHIP
(Coll. Ron Baxter)
Tune:- Manchester Rambler

I'm a tramp ship, I'm a tramp ship, on no regular run;
I go wherever the cargoes may come.
It may be to Lagos on Sunday;
But they'll change it to London come Monday!

Note (RB):- I heard this on the M.V. Nina Bowater, circa 1971. The man I got it from had never heard of Ewan MacColl.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: IT'S QUITE GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 07:02 PM

IT'S QUITE GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME
(Coll. Ron Baxter)
Tune:- Eton Boating Song

Oh, the old A.B. lay dying,
And as on his bunk there he lay;
With his ship-mates all around him,
His last dying words he did say;
"Will you go and call the Ship's Master?
And the Chief Steward also?
And ask them to stand beside me,
And wait with me till I go."

So they went and got the Old Man,
And the Chief Steward likewise;
He stood to the left of him,
The Old Man on the other side.
But the old A.B. got better,
And it was obvious he would not die -
So the Steward and Master departed,
And his shipmates asked him "Why?"

Why had he called the Master,
And the Chief Steward there to stand
Beside him as he lay dying -
Those two who stole out of hand?
Then the A.B. picked up his Bible;
Said, "This Book is all that you need.
I'll tell you why I called them;
In St Matthew's Gospel you'll read -"

"That when our Blessed Saviour
For our sake was hung on that tree,
He had two robbers beside him
That day upon Calvary.
So, if you think aboout it,
The answer is there, plain to see;
If it was good enough for Jesus,
Then it's quite good enough for me!"

Note (RB):- I heard this on the King Malcolm in 1974. I may have filled in some of the lines myself, but I know the first verse and the last four lines are as I heard them. There is a R.A.F. Song "The Bold Aviator lay Dying", to the same tune.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: JIG-A-JIG SONG
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 07:06 PM

JIG-A-JIG SONG        
(Coll. Ron Baxter)
Tune:- I Had a Little Nut Tree

Down there in Port Louis,
Little boys they say;
"To get you a jig-a-jig,
I wait here all day."

Chorus:-        Jig-a-jig-a Johnnie,
                Not too much to pay;
                To get you a jig-a-jig
                I wait here all day.

You will like my sister;
She is very clean.
After every jig-a-jig,
By Doctor Sahib is seen.

Chorus

You no like my sister?
Smallie boy is nice.
You can have my brother
at half my sister's price.

Chorus


Notes (RB):-        Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius. This was a very popular port for Clan Line vessels as Mauritius was the most beautiful place they went to - but you did get pestered by young lads pimping. I only heard this on one ship, but the man I got it from told me he'd heard it on at least two other vessels.

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 08:30 AM

This is just too good. Ron's sang me a couple of these but I had no idea the extent. Might it be worth giving them a website of their own, I wonder? Complete with pictures & mp3s... Worth a thought?

Hope all is well anyway, Ron - here's the link to the Fleetwood Folk Club myspace site I was telling you about:

Fleetwood Folk Club

Ideas welcome!


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 09:13 AM

Ross-

You've certainly been very busy since I last checked this thread! What a collection!

Another note on "The Red Duster" would be that C. Fox Smith composed a poem of that title as well during World War 1:

The Red Duster (R. N. R. Demobilised)

Oh, some will save their Navy pay and take their ease ashore
And some will sit at an office desk and go to sea no more,
And some will follow the blooming plough and hear the skylark's song,
But oh! it's me for the old Red Duster, for that where I belong.

I'll sign and sail in the Lord knows what — I'll go to Lord knows where —
From Hudson's Bay I'll beat my way to the Straits of old Le Mair;
From Pernambuck to Palembang, and I know I'll not go wrong
So long's I'm under the old Red Duster, for that's where I belong.

I'll take a turn in the Black Sea trade, a trick on the Gulf Ports run,
I'll feel the bite of the Cape Horn cold, and the burn o' the Perim sun;
I'll make the round of the blessed lot from the Gunfleet to Hong-Kong,
When I get back to the old Red Duster — the place where I belong.

I'll ship aboard of the first that comes, and any old thing'll do,
And I don't much care if she's sail or steam, or whether she's old or new,
There'll be never a tramp too foul for me, nor a spounter smell too strong,
So long's I'm under the old Red Duster — for that's where I belong!

For Navy chaps are Navy chaps — good luck to all and one!
And Navy ways are Navy ways — and now the fighting's done,
I'm sick at heart for a shellback's yarn my old-time pals among,
And oh! It's me for the old Red Duster, for that's where I belong!

Notes:

From Ships and Folks, edited by Cicely Fox Smith, published by Elkin Mathews, London, UK, © 1920, p. 58-59. First published in Punch magazine, Volume 157, August 6, 1919, p. 130.

The "Red Duster" is the sailor's slang for the British Merchant Ship Flag.

In this poem, composed shortly after the end of World War 1, the poet is focused on the naval seaman recently demobilized who is determined to return to his former life as a merchant seaman.

First adapted for singing by Bob Zentz (US), as recorded on his Closehauled on the Wind of a Dream, © 2007.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 09:15 AM

That Jig-a-Jig song has definite echoes of Fake Mexican Tourist Blues by Kevin Ayers.

Hey, mister, would you like my sister
Her name is Juanita,
I think. you'd like to meet her.
She's a little bit risky,
Drinking always whiskey.
But she's really a tiger
Take you right inside her.

Hey, mister, got another sister
Her name is Dolores
She likes pretty colores;
She's a little bit silly,
Eating always chili;

But she's very sexy,
Take her home in a taxi.

Hey, Juanita, Juanita banana
Hey, Juanita, would you hold my banana;
I'd like it now, I don't mean manana.

Hey, brother, what about my mother
She's only just forty
She's especially naughty.
She knows a lot a tricks,
More than the younger chicks.
And if you don't like my mother,
I got a very nice brother.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 12:40 PM

Thanks, Charley - no matter how much I think I've read through the Cicely Fox-Smith material, there's always one that I haven't appreciated.

Thanks, Sean, for the Fleetwood Folk Club link - the page has some songs from various members of the club, all songs by Ron, tunes various (usually the singer). most are Fleetwood/fishing songs, but there is one related to this thread.

"The Old Trail" is the introductory song from Red Duster's show "Farewell to the Clan Line".
The singer is me. Lyrics follow.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: OUT ON THE OLD TRAIL
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 12:57 PM

OUT ON THE OLD TRAIL
(Ron Baxter)
Tune: Ross Campbell

Let go your stern line, heave on the back spring;
Single up for'ard and ring "Slow Astern".
Take in your head-line, wheel hard a'starboard;
The rudder's biting, now take off a turn.

Chorus:-
        'Cause we're out on the old trail,
        Out on the new trail,
        The land falls away with each turn of the screw.
        Six months or more now lies before us,
        We're out on the old trail that's always new.

Her bows are turning, at the tug's urging,
Away from the land, away from the quay.
Cast off the tug, and ring "Half Ahead" now,
Heading down river and out to the sea.

Over the bar now, dropping the pilot,
Make fast the anchor, ring "Full Away";
Set normal watches, the voyage has started,
But when we'll return, well, we cannot say.

Note (RJC):- The chorus says it all - for a working seaman, every voyage is at the same time a new adventure and the same old routine. Even if you've been on the same "run" a score of times, it's still a new trail; you never quite know what way the trip's going to turn out.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: ROYSTON GRANGE
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 02:01 PM

ROYSTON GRANGE
(Ron Baxter et al)
Tune: Ross Campbell

You men that sail the ocean, come listen to my song;
And find a lesson, if you can, in a voyage that went wrong.
For when you leave the land behind, your luck may quickly change -
Sit down, I'll tell to you the tale of the vessel "Royston Grange".

Her cargo it was frozen beef, sent from the Argentine;
Her crew they hailed from London, from Glasgow and the Tyne.
Off the River Plate they met the fog, and in that lies the blame;
For through that fog there came a ship - the doom of the "Royston Grange".

The RADAR was revolving, for an echo could be seen;
Coming fast, but it would pass by on the starboard beam;
But that heavy-laden tanker, for reasons never found,
Put her helm to starboard and the "Royston Grange" ran down.

Though the Captain called for "Full Astern" and the wheel was spun around,
The tanker's bows drew nearer, and through her sides they ground;
No explosions lit the sky, no tanks went up in flames,
But silent as a marble tomb, lay the "Royston Grange".

For her Phreon tanks had ruptured and the gas had quickly spread;
And all within a minute, the whole of the crew was dead.
And though they searched from stem to stern, no-one was left alive;
More than eighty men were dead, not one of them survived.

So let's drink to their memory, as another song we sing;
But don't forget today, lads, what tomorrow it might bring;
For Death, she stalks silent, and she strikes both swift and strange,
As when she took into her arms the crew of the "Royston Grange".




Notes (RJC) The Royston Grange

Approaching each other in a narrow channel of the River Plate, seven miles from the port of Montevideo, Uruguay, two freighters collided on May 11, 1972. A violent explosion devastated both ships and killed eighty-four persons. Destroyed were the Houlder Line's Royston Grange, a British cargo ship carrying grains and refrigerated meat to London, and the Liberian-flagged tanker Tien Chee carrying 20,000 tons of crude petroleum.

How the collision came about was never determined; all aboard the Royston Grange, ten passengers and sixty-three crew members, were killed; ten on the Tien Chee were never found. The ships locked bows, and the Liberian ship's holds were ruptured, causing tons of oil to spill into the Plate and spread out for miles onto the Uruguayan beaches. Fire then erupted, and the oil-coated water was soon aflame.

No time was available for either ship to lower lifeboats, and only thirty-one of the Chinese crew on the Tien Chee managed to jump overboard and swim through the fiery waters before the two ships disappeared in a titanic explosion. One of the desperate swimmers was so badly burned that he died only minutes after being dragged from the flaming water. Despite the immense damage, both ships remained afloat and were later towed away to be scrapped.

See also Wikipedia: STV Royston Grange for fuller details and a crew list, and http://www.shawsavillships.co.uk/royston.htm for a couple of pictures.

The British Merchant Navy website has a picture of the ship, a poem by Capt. J.S. Earl, and a picture of the memorial window:- http://www.merchant-navy.net/Pictures/royston%20grange.html

Captain Earl's poem:-

S.T.V. Royston Grange

Worse things happen at sea they say, worse things happen at sea,
In `72 this came true with the tanker `Tien Chee`,
Within dense fog near the River Plate, she collided with a freighter,
Crude Oil gushed from shattered tanks exploding seconds later.

The other ship the `Royston Grange ` in fatal rendezvous,
Lost seventy four razed on her - all passengers and crew,
Full cargo holds of butter ignited overall,
Fused in mighty fireball that left no chance at all.

Ten thousand tons of vessel went up in lethal blaze,
No time then for rescue or warning sound to raise,
Montevideo close at hand, bodies still entrapped,
The Houlder`s ship towed away and later on just scrapped.

By the Tower of London in All Hallows Church,
There is a stained glass window - if carrying out research,
In commemoration colour with burning red repands,
Depicting Royston Grange in memory of all hands.

Worse things happen at sea they say,
Worse things happen at sea.

Capt J S Earl
2005


The BBC World Service was an important link to the wider world for the crew on board a tramp ship. Ron was at sea when the initial reports came through of the Royston Grange disaster. He and some colleagues (he can't remember any names) put some verses together based on what they heard. Later investigations showed things happened slightly differently, but we have left the song in its original form.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE RED DUSTER (DUBLIN FIREMAN)
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 11:26 PM

THE RED DUSTER (DUBLIN FIREMAN)
(Ron Baxter)
Tune: Ross Campbell

Stitched up in canvas, a weight at your feet;
Wrapped in the Red Ensign, consigned to the deep.
The engine was silent, the wind played an air,
As it blew through the rigging, as they left you there.

You old Dublin fireman, you told them the tales -
Of the convoys, the U-boats, the Bear Island gales;
The tankers a-blazing, turning night into day -
You old Dublin fireman, you sure earned your pay.

But why did you sail, then, beneath Britain's red flag?
The Free State was neutral, and peace could be had.
You'd no love of Britain, as your Fenian songs tell;
Yet you sailed on those convoys, to Murmansk and Hell.

This question they'd ask, you'd reply with a smile,
"You can't sail a tanker across Erin's Green Isle!"
You'd then change the subject, and shoot them a line,
And leave them all guessing the reason you signed.

You sailed forty years, now your voyage is through;
But marked on the chart is the spot they left you.
Stitched up in canvas, your beads in your hand,
Wrapped in the Red Duster, far from Erin's Green Land.



Notes (RJC):- During the Second World War, many thousands of seamen from the neutral Irish Free State served under the "Red Duster" - even despite deep Republican convictions. Their reasons for doing so were sometimes never revealed, even to close shipmates.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE VOYAGE TO NEWFOUNDLAND
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 01 May 08 - 07:13 AM

THE VOYAGE TO NEWFOUNDLAND
(Ron Baxter)
Tune: Ross Campbell

The glass was low, but the sea was high.
The bows they soared to meet the sky.
A'hogging and a'sagging and a'rolling there,
Not one day out from old Cape Clear,
As to the West-Nor-West we stand
On a voyage out to Newfoundland.

O the wind it blew, way past Force Eight,
And solid water we began to take;
Crashing and a'smashing through the pounding sea,
The cargo it was working free;
The Auto went, the wheel was manned,
As we headed out to Newfoundland.

We took it white, we took it green,
We looked more like a submarine!
Pitching and a'listing, leaking down below,
With the telegraph stuck on "Dead Slow";
We wondered if we'd e'er see land,
As we staggered out to Newfoundland.

The gale blew out, then, off the Banks,
We met the fog so thick and dank.
Creeping and a'crawling through the drifting gloom,
And listening out for the fog-horn's boom;
At last, with joy, on the starboard hand,
We saw the cliffs of Newfoundland.

The pilot cutter came to our side,
As through the Heads we did slowly glide;
"Let go! Let go!" So we dropped our hook
In the pleasant bay of Cornerbrook.
Then "Finished with Engines!" the Old Man rang -
And we'd done with our voyage to Newfoundland.



Notes (RB):- I did a trip on one of Bowater's small paper-carriers. The Nina Bowater was a wonderful little vessel, but not the sort you'ld like to cross the Atlantic in - as I had to!

Note (RJC):- there are pictures of the Nina Bowater and other Bowater's ships at the Merchant Navy Nostalgia Bowater Gallery page http://iancoombe.tripod.com/id47.ht


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Subject: Lyr Add: FAREWELL TO THE CLAN LINE
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 01 May 08 - 09:16 AM

FAREWELL TO THE CLAN LINE
(Ron Baxter)
Tune: Ross Campbell

When I think on the years that I spent a'sailing,
Thoughts of past times they drift back to me;
The dangers, the joys, the mayhem, the boredom,
The tears and the laughter, the sky and the sea.

Chorus:-
        But these times are long gone and so are the vessels;
        The House Flag's been lowered for the very last time.
        It's "Farewell" to Hector's and Union Castle,
        To King and Bowater's and to the Clan Line.

For I've seen the sun rise o'er Mauritius in glory,
The Southern Cross 'gainst a black velvet sky;
I have sailed under the Mighty Hunter,
Seen golden sunsets off Ascension's Isle.

I've drifted for days with engine breakdowns,
Was nearly washed over in a gale in Biscay;
But I've roared, sung and drunk in mansions and shanties,
And once I was rolled in a dive in Marseilles,

I've tramped with crude from the Black Sea to the Baltic,
Run shiploads of apples from Tasmania's strand;
Oft to the Cape with general cargo,
Or newsprint for Charleston from Newfoundland.

I've seen sperm whale sounding, the albatross soaring,
Both the Auroras and Saint Elmo's fire;
The sun and moon's halos, flying fish gliding,
And I have heard dolphins sing like a choir.


NOTE (RB):- After ten years at sea, I came ashore. Within four years, Clan Line had ceased to exist. Along with scores of other famous lines it fell victim to containerisation, rising costs and unfair competition from "brass plate" companies flying flags of convenience.

NOTE (RJC):- This was used to close Red Duster's show "Farewell to the Clan Line". It's on the CD of the show, and also on a compilation album ("Blood on the Ice") that Ron put together of recordings of his songs by various artists. A few years ago the Lancaster Easter Maritime Festival produced a limited-edition CD of Festival guests. This was Red Duster's contribution. At last Easter's Glasson Maritime Festival we had the pleasure of hearing the song sung by festival guests Bitter End.

I've heard people comment after hearing the song "Did he really see all those things? And how could you be happy with life ashore after a life like that?" Well, that was the point of the show. That kind of life at sea was available to thousands of men on hundreds of ships in the fifties and through the sixties, when Britain still considered itself to be very much a maritime nation. But changes in trading and transport methods have led to the British Merchant Fleet being reduced to a shadow of its former self. Even the ro-ro ferries that go from Fleetwood to Larne are registered in Bermuda. Their officers are still British, but the crews have been variously Spanish, Polish and whatever East European nation is flavour of the month with the company accountants.

In the face of these changes, it's not just the individual that's affected. Our place in the world has radically altered. We are still very much dependent on goods and services coming in from abroad, but I feel that our impression of all these things is much more blurred than it was when a guy down the street could come waslking back from a voyage with his bag on his shoulder, carring strange objects and tales from distant lands. We all lost something with these changes, not just the guys whose jobs disappeared.

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 May 08 - 07:08 PM

Ross-

I certainly hope you're going to publish these songs as a book. You and your friends have produced some wonderful songs that deserve not to be lost. And you've already made a great start with what you've posted to date.

One does wonder what "the crews (that) have been variously Spanish, Polish and whatever East European nation is flavour of the month" are singing to amuse themselves. You just might be surprised that the tradition continues on.;~)

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 01 May 08 - 09:31 PM

Charley, I wouldn't be surprised at all - these things can continue whether observed or not. However the customer/crew interface so far hasn't allowed any investigation in that line. What I have found while casting around the net for additional info is that there are quite a few websites and chat forums where members of the merchant navy fraternity discuss ships, people, lines, routes, places, stories - I've come across a couple of sites where people have turned some of these stories into poems or songs - I intend to at least link to these sites, and if permission can be obtained, to present such material here eventually.

We hadn't thought in terms of a book. When we had the show worked out (about ten years ago now), our main ambition was to get the results on CD. The late Dave Ryan of Fleetwood Folk Club helped us to achieve that. Beyond that, I always felt that the material we didn't use still deserved to be recorded somewhere and that's what I've tried to do here.

Aside from the Merchant Navy material, Ron's creative energies have been expended in many different fields. Fleetwood as you know was formerly the major west coast fishing port in the UK, and Ron grew up here in a period when the fishing industry was still the driving force of the town's economy. Hundreds of ships, thousands of fishermen and thousands more men and women on shore got their living from the sea. I can imagine you would find all that hard to believe, seeing the place as it is now. Just from Fleetwood and the fishing industry, Ron must have written upwards of fifty songs, poems, monologues, as well as scripts for a dozen shows on different aspects of the town's history. Two other Fleetwood Folk Club members, Dave Pearce and Dick Gillingham have also contributed some powerful material to this body of work. When I get through the Merchant Navy material, I intend to start on the fishing songs - probably a "Fleetwood and Fishing" thread - and if I get that far, another thread on the local history stuff. Much of this is unfortunately in unsorted paper form, ie not yet committed to computer. And having "lost" my first hard drive some years back, I am aware of the fragility of this medium. I do take back-up precautions, but one of the things I value about this Mudcat thread is the opportunity to get Ron's material out to a wider audience, in a place where it might continue whether I'm around to present it or not, and where it could get the appreciation I think it deserves. I sincerely thank Max, Joe Offer and the Mudcat Cafe for the chance to do this, and thanks to all for your contributions.

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 May 08 - 09:12 PM

Ross-

I did do a drive-through by Fleetwood with Ken Lardner when I was doing my Liverpool run back in 2006. I didn't realize you folks were in residence at the time, and clearly missed out on another wonderful session.

As C. Fox Smith once remarked (Mariquita) "The ports I knew grown strange" is probably an apt description of the Fleetwood harbor area that we viewed. Reminds me of many of our traditional fishing ports here in Maine.

Mudcat is a great place to post your songs and your notes, but do consider working it up as a songbook. Cyril Tawney's GREY FUNNEL LINES is a good model, and you've actually collected more good material than Cyril was able to come up with at the time (before Mudcat and the World Wide Web).

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 May 08 - 08:43 AM

Ross-

Thanks so much for the CD Blood on the Ice.

Dod I ever send you one of my CD's? I'm losing track of where I've sent them.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 May 08 - 08:45 AM

Err, the above post should have been addressed to "Ron" rather than "Ross."

Too ear-lye in the morning!

Charley Ignoble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,SAILORON
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 07:33 AM

Charley, sorry in the delay in replying but I've been on holiday. Glad Blood on the Ice arrived, hope you've enjoyed it. No I have not rec'd a CD from you.   Ron


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 09:20 PM

Ron-

Finally sent off a set of my CD's today, and listened to the BLOOD ON THE ICE CD on our decent set of speakers here in the office; I usually listen to CD's in my van and they really don't do justice to most CD's, although the van is an excellent standard to judge how a CD fares at its lowest common denominator!

"Farewell to the Clan Line" is certainly my personal favorite. My other favorite is "Tramps." And then there's ...

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 08:48 PM

Ron-

I have been listening to the BLOOD ON THE ICE CD for much of the summer; it's in my van so I listen to it whenever I'm on the road. I find the concept of this recording fascinating, and I'm greatly impressed with the new songs that have been introduced on this CD which fill a major gap in Merchant Navy history, and belay the claim that "no songs were being created by sailors after 1900." Ceril Tawney would certainly have appreciated this CD!

The CD does have technical problems, uneven quality of recording, but I'm really more interested in the songs themselves.

My personal favorite has to be "Tramps" (shanty for steam) which is brilliantly arranged and sung by Fore 'n' Aft. I love the technical words having to do with feeding the boilers of these old steamers. And one could easily imagine the Black Gang singing such a song.

But then there is "White Feather" a world War 1 era song which I find particularly haunting about a merchant captain who is upbraided in the bar because he is "not serving his country."

Another haunting one is "Old Dublin Fireman" which doesn't answer all its questions but leaves one thinking about them.

"The Cook and the Deckies" for its classic humor, with the clash between those who serve and those who eat.

"Common British Tars" is a long overdue tribute to the sailors who died at Trafalger, and again beautifully arranged and sung.

"The Bite of Benin" which deals with the 19th century slave trade is another haunting song which I keep going back to; it would be nice to follow this song with one of the songs which commemorates the slave rebellion aboard the Amistad.

And "Farewell to the Clan Line" is a wonderful poetic tribute to the men and ships who worked in the post World War 2 period to the late 1960's. And it's a hard driving song.

The title song for the CD I have mixed feeling about; it's certainly well sung and it's an attempt to portray the unromantic work of whaling in the 20th century; it does that but I'm not sure if it works well as a song.

There are many more songs on this CD but these are the ones I keep returning to.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Sep 08 - 05:58 PM

I heard this song sung in Blue Funnel ships in the 1960s, it's sung to the tune of "what a friend we have in Jesus". With apologies to American Mudcatters!

Me no likee British sailor,
Yankee sailor come ashore.
Me no likee British sailor,
Yankee sailor pay ten dollars more.

Yankee sailor call me honey darling,
British sailor call me f****** whore.
Yankee sailor have one jump then finish,
British sailor jump for seven more!


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Snuffy
Date: 22 Sep 08 - 07:28 PM

Not necessarily a MN song - could just as easily be the Andrew: Cyril Tawney obviously knew it. CHINESE MAIDEN'S LAMENT


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,Ian Wallace
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 11:55 AM

I am trying to source the words to a song, possibly a version of 'The MV Hardship'and specifically related to 'Shaw Savill'. Sung to the tune of 'Villikins and his Dinah'/ Sweet Betsy from Pyke'.

I can only remember two of the verses, plus half another one. What I can remember goes as follows:

We went down the Pool at a quarter to nine,
They told us to join the Shaw Savill Line.
They paint their ships black and they paint their ships white,
And they work you like B******s from morining 'til night.

Chorus

Heave away, heave away, from London to Kiwi's a bloody long way.

The Mate on the foredeck his name it was Jim,
And I threw a rotten tomato at him.
Now, a tomato's alright when it's in a skin,
But it's no bloody good when it's still in the tin.

Heave away, heave away, from London to Kiwi's a bloody long way.

The Cief Engineer was a drinkin' his beer,
When he got hit in the ear by some grease from the gear.
?????????????

Does anyone know any of the other verses?

Another 'Shaw Savill' ditty went as follows:

(Sung to the tune of 'Galway Bay')

If you ever go across the sea to Aussie,
And time it comes to tell your boss,
That you've gone and booked a passage with Shaw savill,
to sail upon the good ship 'Southern Cross'.

There are times when you may feel down hearted,
Sick and almost on the verge of tears,
But my girl before you think you've been forgotten,
You'll find youself amongst the Engineers.

Now the Engineers will try and teach you their way,
Fill you full of whisky, rum and gin,
And before you're very much older,
You'' fnd yourself on the road to a life of sin.

If you feel you want to change your mind now,
The time it is so very late,
And if you think the Engineers are awful,
Just wait until you meet te bloody Mate...the bloody Mate.

I would be grateful for any feedback on both the above offerings.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 12:09 PM

Wonderful! As you say the 1st one is a varient of the MV Hardship family of songs. I believe that BI also had a version [to add to the Harrison, Union Castle and now Shaw Saville] I am currently trying to track it down. Sorry I can't add any verses, but as has been said before on this thread there are no definitive versions, i.e. in the song 'Shaw Saville's Buccaneers' that I collected on board the M.V. King James the two A.Bs I got it from nearly had a stand up fight as to which was the 'proper' version [ the version posted is a collation of their two].


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,Robert (squeezebox) Hilton
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 11:42 AM

I remember hebridean sailors in the 60's inn the Queen Vic singing to its own strong tune:

When I was skint in Glesga toon and didna have a bob,
I went on board a tramp ship for to get myself a job.
The Mate he looked me over and he saie, "Ye'll do just fine,
"For we take all bums and down and outs in the good old Baron Line."

Refrain:
Well you may have been in sailing ships, you may have been in tramps.
You may have been in whalers on the great Newfoundland Banks.
You may have sailed around the Wurrld and had a Hell of a time,
But you've never been in tramp ships 'til you've sailed the Baron Line.

I have most of another verse got from an AB in the 90's. I don't know how to send you the tune, but could find out.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,Robert (squeezebox) Hilton
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 12:25 PM

Six weeks off Southend sounds to me like the situation of many vessels in the late 50's when London docks were strike bound. Many ships spent weeks at anchor there. I was there with a vessel of the South American Saint Line (offices in Mountstuart Square, Cardiff. After that trip we worked from Bremen, Hamburg and Antwerp.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 07:21 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 07:26 PM

Thanks, Robert

Additional verses/tunes/stories/details always welcome. The Baron Line Song appears earlier in this thread in the form that Ron and I adapted it for me to sing. The tune I used is a bit like "The Soor-Milk Cairt". We based the lyrics on a version in the DT:-
Baron Line Song

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 09:54 AM

I have recently found a source of 'wonerful' M.N. songs. Go to 'British India Shipping' [Google]. There is a section 'songs'. Enjoy it!


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: MartinRyan
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 10:09 AM

Click here for the songs and verse page Sailor Ron recommends above.

Regards


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 01:19 PM

Ron-

Very interesting! I bet more will be coming out of the woodwork or the bilge or whatever.

Don't you love the world wide web!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 06:09 AM

As, at present the thread seems to have dried up I thought I'd post one or two of my own.

North from Buenos Aires

With wheat from the Argentine filling all five holds
But just two layers of gunny sacks, and no shifting boards
Lets hope it settles even as ythe grain is shaken down
As north from Buenos Aires to the Mersey we are bound.

Steam coal from the Rhondda we carried to the Plate
But our bunker's full of rubbish, full of shale and slate
Six knots [on a good day] we get from our compound
As north etc

She's leaking like a colander, it's pump her every watch
The bilges all clogged up with grain, and rust chokes the strum box
Just hear those rivets popping every time she pounds
As north etc

Just an ancient long haul tramp built long before the war
Not the one against the Kaiser, no, the one fought 'gainst the Boers
She's steering like a drunkard staggering round the town
As north etc

All on board are longing to sight that 'landfall buoy'
Not that the owners care; they're insured with Lloyds
They'll still get their money if we sink or run aground
As north etc


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Fidjit
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 08:29 AM

Now Ross you've got me raiding my song bag right to the very bottom. Lot of dust up my nose, but finally came up with a song I wrote for the cadets concert on board.

Have to just say that I did a stint as Lecky with Cayzer Irvine in'66 - '68.
S.A Vaal, Elizabeth Bowater, couple of Castle line cargo boats too.
One trip as Lecky on the, "Clan Malcolm" which was a boat for Officer Cadets.

So here was what I came up with.

"Voyage 28"
Tune. Early in the morning before the break of day.

When I Was Dumb And Very Young
I Went For A Trip On The Clan Malcolm
I Thought I would A Captain Be
And So I Joined The Company
I Joined The Company (x3)
Before The Break Of Day

We Sailed From London It Is True
The Sea And Sky Looked Very Blue
But In The Bay It Could Be Seen
All The Cadets Looked Very Green
Oh! They Looked Very Green (x3)
Before The Break Of Day

On The Cape You Can Have A Good Time
The Weather There Is Always Fine
Don't Fall Out With The T/O
Or You'll Have The Line To Toe
You'll Have The Line To Toe (x3)
Before the Break Of Day

A Visit To A National Park Was Planned
Many, Many Miles Inland
In The Morning they Wanted Us
Up Very Early To Catch The Bus
Up Early in The Morning (x3)
Before The Break Of Day

We Went From The Cape To The Medi Blue
There Were many Things To Do
Ski-ing Soccer And Believe You Me
It's A Very Full Life On The Malcolm C
Oh! It's A Very Full Life (x3)
On Board The Malcolm C

Back To The Cape Just For Fun
We Had To Have Another Run
L.M Beira Round Again
This Is The Life On The Rolling Main
Life On The Rolling Main (x3)
Before The Break Of Day

One Had A Night Out in L.M
Sure He Won't Do That Again
We All Know He'll No More Roam
His Shore Leaves Stopped
Till We Get Home
Oh! No More Will He Roam (x3)
Until The Break Of Day

And Now We're On The Homeward Run
We've had Good Craic And Lots Of Fun
We're All Proud Of The Time We've Done
All Aboard The Clan Malcolm
Aboard The Clan Malcolm (x3)
Before The Break Of Day.

P.S
I've always liked Graham Penny's, "Channels" and can associate my time at sea with that song. I have the words if you want.

Chas


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 05:17 PM

Thanks for that, Fidjit. Sounds a lot like Ron's tales of Cadet days. Your times with Cayzer Irvine must have overlapped. Did you ever sail on any of Ron's ships? (I think there's a list somewhere above). I'll mention this to Ron tomorrow night at the Steamer

I don't think I've come across "Channels". Please post if you have it handy (and any verses, fragments, etc that you might have disturbed on the way to the bottom of the song bag).

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Fidjit
Date: 09 Apr 09 - 05:44 AM

Here you go Ross.

"Channels" Written by Graham Penny
Pete Harris recorded on, 'Widows Promise' TERRCD008

Well It's Nearly Six Months To The Day Lads
When The Anchor Was Straight Up And Down
And We Waved Our Farewells To the Quayside
As We Sailed Out Of Southampton Town

Now I Can't Say That It's Been A Good Trip This Time
The Old Man Has Given Us Hell
The Watch Keepers Slaved Whilst The Day Workers Skived
I Think Next That Time I'll Sign On The P & O Line

But Now,
We're On The Downhill Run
Southampton Here We Come
Twentyfour Hours And Then
There'll Be Tears Ther'll Be Kisses
The Kids And The Missus
I'm Getting The Channels Again

Now The Lump In The Engine Department
Is Much Tougher Than Most People Think
At The End Of Your Watch You Are Shattered
You Just Crash Out When You've Had A Drink

Now If I Had A Nice Cushy Number
Same As The Lecky Or Even The Mate
Or The Purser, The Purser, Well They're All The Same
They've Got Cash On The Brain
Sell Their Granny's For Gain

But Now,

In The Morning We'll Be Off The Island
And The Junior Watch We'll Arouse
And We'll Slow To Take On The Sea Pilot
For The Run From The Needles To Cowes

Now The Rummager's With Him They're Really Bad News
A Scruffier Lot I've Not Seen
The Rummager's Rummage Wherever They Choose
And Your Job You Can Loose
If They Find All Your Booze

But Now,

Now My Gear Has All Been To The Cleaners
I've Filled Out My Customs Form Too
So We Might As Well Start On the Pour Out
Till Tomorrow there's No More To Do

Now, We'll Slow Down At Fowey It Won't Be Long Then
Till We're Passing The Old School At Cowes
We'll Be Signing Off Articles Round About Ten
Down The Gangway And Then
We'll Be Shore Side Again

But Now,
We're On The Downhill Run
Southampton Here We Come
Twentyfour Hours And Then
There'll Be Tears Ther'll Be Kisses
The Kids And The Missus
I'm Getting The Channels Again


Chas


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Fidjit
Date: 09 Apr 09 - 05:53 AM

Just to add that you can get to Channels recording via this site
or Wild Goose Records


a href="http://www.mickandpete.co.uk/">Mick Ryan & Pete harris


Chas


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Fidjit
Date: 09 Apr 09 - 05:56 AM

Mick Ryan & Pete harris


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 09 Apr 09 - 06:11 AM

Fidjit
My 'shipping list'
Clan Sutherland, Clan Malcolm, Clan Sutherland [again], Argylshire,
Hector Hawk, Nina Bowater, Rothsey Castle,Tintagel Castle,
King Charles,Clan Malcolm [again],King Malcolm, King James.
plus odd weeks 'standing by' another 5 or 6


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 09 Apr 09 - 08:49 AM

Absolutely great!

Keep 'em coming.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Fidjit
Date: 09 Apr 09 - 12:33 PM

Hi Sailor Ron.

Just looked up my Merchant Seaman Record book. More dust!

Joined May '66. There was a Seaman's strike on so we were on Standby in Southampton until June. Sleeping on the Windsor Castle. Had a look where they hid the Gold on the Capetown Castle whilst we were there.
Good story pity they got caught.

Then 4 trips on the SA Vaal. Then 1 on the Alice Bowater. 3 on the Rowan Castle. and 2 on Clan Malcolm. August '67 - April '68

Signed off 19th April '68

Our paths must have crossed. Small world.

Chas


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Apr 09 - 08:12 PM

Does doing several trips on Ferry Boats qualify ? Working , NOT passengers ! LOL .

And 100


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Fidjit
Date: 11 Apr 09 - 03:38 AM


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 11 Apr 09 - 08:46 AM

If ferry boats counted, I'd qualify! From the early fifties we used to travel every summer from home in Lanarkshire to my mother's old home near Enniskillen. The boat trip, with Burns-Laird Lines from Lancefield Quay on the Broomielaw, Glasgow, to Donegal Quay on the River Laggan, Belfast was a major part of the holiday for us. Both rivers then had extensive working shipyards, and the quays and docks were jammed with ships of all shapes and sizes from all parts of the world. Opposite Lancefield Quay was where the Clyde steamers moored, usually the Queen Mary II. Occasionally the paddle steamer Waverley, arriving back from a trip "doon the watter", would have to moor alongside and off-load passengers through the QM II because there wasn't room to get to the quayside. Travelling overnight, we would be allowed to stay up until it got dark (about 11pm in the Scottish summer nights). Departing about 9pm, the Duke of Argyll (or the Royal Ulsterman) would take us slowly down the river, horn blasting to warn the Renfrew ferry of our approach. Then as the river widened out, we'd pass the disabled ex-servicemen's hospital at Erskine House in its open parkland, Dumbarton Rock on the other side, Gourock Rope Works' neon sign and eventually the Cloch Light at the "Tail o' the Bank". On the return journey there could be a stop at Shieldhall to off-load the live cattle cargo in the early morning before proceeding up-river. On the Belfast side, for a couple of years we watched the "Canberra" take shape. The first time we took the car over (1964?), it had to be loaded on and off by crane. By the time the QEII was being built at John Brown's yard, Dumbarton, Burns-Laird had changed over to RO-RO ferries, operating from Ardrossan, well down the Firth of Clyde. This made for a much shorter (and for me, much less interesting) journey.

Ross

Fidjit, you mentioned a seamen's strike in the sixties. Was there an earlier one too, possibly late fifties? I seem to remember my father having to get a plane home one year to make sure he got back to work in time.

Correction, June 16 2009:- The ships we travelled on would have been the MV "Royal Scotsman" and MV "Royal Ulsterman", pictured here with links to further information:- http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/GB_Pass_PCs_B.html

The "Duke of Argyll" was one of LMS's Heysham-Belfast ships, which had the next berth down along Donegal Quay. I also remember its sister ship "Duke of Lancaster", but can't say I ever saw the "Duke of Rothesay". After 1967 when the overnight services ceased, Burns & Laird brought in the Ro-Ro ferry MV "Lion", operating from Ardrossan, further down the Clyde. Very efficient (four hours instead of ten), very modern, but not half as much fun.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Fidjit
Date: 11 Apr 09 - 10:08 AM

Dunno Ross. Probably. There were always strikes going on.

Chas


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 11:14 AM

The Liberty ships, known in the MN as 'Sam' boats could be said to be 'the ships that won the war'. After scratching round to find any songs about them, and failing, I ended up writing this :-

They were designed by Pickersgill, built by Beth'lam Steel
Down the slip in just six weeks from the day they laid the keel
Crude as a sawn off shot gun, no elegance or style
They were cut off by the furlong, they were laid down by the mile.

Chorus
They were the Sam boats, the Sam boats, built in hundreds, built in scores
These ships built by Uncle Sam were the ships that won the war.

Now every yard in Britain was working day & night
But the 'wolf-packs' they were winning the North Atlantic fight
So Roosevelt said to Churchill 'If you'll send us the plans
We'll build all the ships you need, isolationists be damned'!

So they rolled, and, cut, and welded with their 'Yankee Doodle Day'
And down each slip they were launched, from Maine to Mobile Bay
With a single 'up & downer', greyhounds they were not
Yet 10,000 tons they carried at a speed of near 12 knots.

'Sam Tampa', and 'Sam Verra', they'd strange, outlandish names
But they carried tanks, they carried guns, shells and aeroplanes
But more than munitions, they carried faith & hope
The 'press' called them the Liberty ships, to their crews they were 'Sam Boats'.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Barry Finn
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 06:23 PM

Buzz Smith, a friend of my singing partner Neil Downey (of Finn & Haddie) wrote this song about 20yrs ago without ever putting a tune to it, so it just laid around. Neil just recently found it after all those yrs & now we've just started singing it to Neil's tune.
There was a thread some where about this convoy of WWII coal colliers called CW-9 but I can't seem to unearth it.

CW-9 (words, Buzz Smith, tune Neil Downey)

On the 7th of August a convoy set out
As evening fell over the Thames
Through Dover Straits was their perilous route
CW-9 was their name
Twenty Coast Colliers, nine ships of the line
Were sent to that hell on the sea
With a cargo that could've been carried by rail
Just to prove that the channel was free

Chorus:
The Admiralty said "it's a mater of pride
We don't give a damn for your coal"
Then sent them all off for a bloody good ride
Where the E-Boats & Stukas patrolled

As the cloudy dawn broke the 1st E-Boats appeared
To strike with torpedo & shell
And when back to France the Bosch bastards had steered
Six ships had been blown all to hell
Three of them crippled, their hulls badly holed
Three more to the bottom had dived
And still trapped below with their cargo of coal
All the brave men who needlessly died

Chorus

In the gloomy mid-morning the Stukas rained down
With Messerschmitts guarding their tail
But Spitfires & Hurricanes gave them no ground
Through lead rained around them like hail
Jerry kept coming until at mid-day
They broke through the cover at last
And in ten minutes flat to the Convoy's dismay
Eleven of the Colliers were smashed

Chorus

It was evening before the sad slaughter was o'er
For Jerry kept at them all day
And many brave sailors lay dead in their gore
Or drowned in a watery grave
When into Swanage they limped with the tide
Four Colliers were all that remained
The rest were the victims of the Admiralty's pride
Shot to hell or lying under the Main

Chorus

They bombed them, they starfed they, they blew them aside
While the blood & the coal mixed with brine
T'was a hell of a price for the Admiralty's pride
That was paid by CW-9


I guess that this song would fit in either a merchant navy or a navy catagory.

Wonderful thread

Barry


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 09:40 AM

Ron-

Barry and Neil did a great job of presenting the above song at the recent Borderline Mystic Sea Music Festival fundraiser.

Did you ever post "White Feathers" to this thread? That's another keeper that I believe you composed.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 11:36 AM

Charley, no, but I will.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Apr 09 - 09:57 AM

Ron-

"White Feathers" is another haunting song. I find that the test of a good song is whether you still think of it long after you have heard it. What I heard was the rendition on the Folk Opera CD you sent me, titled BLOOD ON THE ICE. I suppose I'll just have to learn the damn thing now!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 12:02 PM

The [British] Merchant Navy lost more than 100% of its pre-war crew numbers, and yet there seems little in song [or poetry for that matter] about them. So for what it's worth here's one by me.

Some died quickly, some died slow
Some up on deck some down below
Where e're they died they died the same
And the price of petrol has gone up again.

Some died in the torpedoe's blast
Some starved in boats, some froze on rafts
Waiting for rescue that never came
And the etc.

Some died bravely, some did not.
How some died is best forgot
Screaming & frying in a sea of flame
And the etc

Some died in anger, some in hate
Some resigned unto their fate
Some died calling on Jesu's name
And the etc

Some tried fleeing from the attack
Some died cursing & firing back
To take revenge for their comrades slain
And the etc

Sun bleached skulls with empty eyes
Staring sightless to the skies
These are the reasons, the reasons plain
That the price of petrol has gone up again.

This was inspired by the David Low cartoon in the Daily Mirror
showing a blazing tanker, with a seaman clinging to a raft. The caption was 'the price of petrol has gone up again'. This very
nearly got the paper banned!


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Jun 09 - 10:26 PM

Ron-

I believe the "Coaling Shanty" went down very well when I sang it at the late night sessions at the Mystic Sea Music Festival.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 15 Jun 09 - 11:06 PM

It was awesome, Charley


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 12:49 PM

Here's a link to a description of the battle around Convoy CW 9, though the song itself makes a very good job of it - thanks, Barry.

Charley, Ron asked me some time ago to send you a copy of Red Duster's "Farewell to the Clan Line" CD and our other material. I haven't forgotten, I just keep getting derailed by circumstances. Will get back to that shortly.

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 03:48 AM

Charley, glad 'Chanty for steam' was well received, as you know, whilst I enjoy all types of nautical songs, my particulat 'bent' is steam, either as a collector or writer. I never worked 'in sail', nor in coal fired ships, but, I sailed with plenty of blokes who had worked 'in coal' and it was from their tales that inspired 'Chanty for steam'. Incidentally if you could get hold of a copy of 'Victoria Drummond, Marine Engineer' I think you'd find it facinating. She sailed as 10th Engineer with Blue Funnel in 1922, & ended up as Chief on the China coast in the 1960s. Ron


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 09:09 AM

Sorry, the GUEST above was me! Ron


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 11:03 AM

Ron and Ross-

I did receive a copy of your CD Blood on the Ice and have been mining it ever since. So Red Duster's "Farewell to the Clan Line" CD would be a different one?

Another series of books by a marine engineer that I've been enjoying is by William McFee, published in the early 1900's.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 11:24 AM

Charley, "Farewell to the Clan Line" is a CD, which is basically my collected MN songs, plus some of our [Red Duster] compositions along with one or two songs by other writers and a narration between the songs. The songs 'The Old Trail' & 'Farewell to the Clan Line' are on this CD & were 'lifted' on to 'Blood on the Ice'.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: MARINER
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 05:58 PM

In reference to the query above re strikes. There was an unofficial strike in the 50s led by a group known as "The Reform Movement" if my memory serves me. Then in May of 1966 an official national strike was called by the N.U.S. By then many members of the Reform Movement were N.U.S. officials . I think it lasted about 8 weeks.
By the way, fidget ,what in the name of God were you doing on standby on a Castle boat in the middle of a national strike ?. I can understand keeping fire watches to protect the ship, but on standby ?


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: haddocker
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 05:03 PM

Hello,
    I haven't a great deal of time right now as I am off to dinner soon. But I didn't want to miss getting to this thread so that I could express my enthusiasm for the subject which it addresses. My friend and singing partner Barry told me of it and my exact words were "We've found a Gold mine!" As soon as I have more time I will be perusing the various offerings and entering into further dialogue.
   Thank you for bringing this collection forth. I hope it will elicit many more specimens worthy of note. For too long the "steel Navy" and the Merchant fleet have been largely overlooked by the singers of maritime music. I believe this thread indicates a Rennaisance of the highest order.
    I look forward to returning.
                   Fair winds and following seas,
                           Neil


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 07:49 PM

Neil-

Welcome aboard this thread!

Neil and his partner Barry form the traditional sea music duo Finn & Haddie, whose recent recording Fathom This! has received rave reviews from the sea music enthusiasts.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 09:28 AM

Welcome, Neil.
All contributions (or variants of anything above) also appreciated.
Look forward to more from you.
Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 11:24 AM

A late, but most welcome, 'pier head jump, as Charley & Ross have already said great to 'have you aboard' Ron


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: haddocker
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 11:42 AM

Thank you all. What is most exciting about all of this is that the invitation to "put your own tune to it" gives one some degree of poetic license. I expect Charley can certainly start us off with something, being the tunesmith that he is. If anyone can direct me to the "recommended" tunes which are mentioned in some of the posts, I would be most appreciative, as I am somewhat in the dark in relation to many of those mentioned.One particular value which these songs share is their rhyme and rythmn which lend themselves to composition. There is a tune that is probably just below the surface,and if one contemplates the spirit of the poem it will readily reveal itself.
                        Neil


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 12:51 PM

What I find particularly intriguing about this thread is the evidence it provides that sailors have continued to compose songs well into the 20th century, and beyond!

When Cyril Tawney was pulling together Grey Funnel Lines he was discouraged by the lack of broad response to his appeals for contemporary sea songs. However, when he was doing this, back in the 1970's, there was no internet to facilitate such research.

Long live Mudcat and associated music websites!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: LYR:ADD: High Tide at 4 AM
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Nov 09 - 05:02 PM

Here's another one that I think works well as a song, composer by marine engineer William McFee, well known author of nautical stories in the early 20th century (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up chords):

By William McFee, 1909
From Reflections of Marsyas, by William McFee, © 1933, p. 63
Adapted for singing by Charlie Ipcar 11/7/09
Tune: after Make and Break Harbour by Stan Rogers

High Tide at 4 AM

G-----------------------------------------------------------------------------D
They've tipped and they've shoveled, they've trimmed and they've stored,
------------C----------------------------D
And she's down to her load-line as ever;
------G-----------------G7--------------C------------Bm
The bridge is swung round as she's leaving this town,
-------------D----------------------D7
And she's off to the dark o' the river.
------G------------------------------------------D
Fare-well to the grime and the dust of the tips,
---C-------------------------D7
It may be a month or for-ever:
-------G-----------------G7------------C---------------Bm
She's watched by the ships and the ghosts on the slips
---------D-----------------------D7---------G
As she ploughs through the dark o' the river.


-------C-----------D----------------G----------Em
Fare-well to the grime and the dust of the tips,
---G-------------------------C
It may be a month or for-ever:
-------G-------------------------------------------------C
She's watched by the ships and the ghosts on the slips
---------D-----------------------D7---------G
As she ploughs through the dark o' the river.



She's one with the Mill and the Mine and the Mart;
Black coal is her cargo as ever:
But sneer as you will, she bears my heart still
'Way down in the dark o' the river;
So I pray to the Lord in my bed here ashore
A fair weather passage please give her,
For there's shipmates aboard I may see no more
Till we've passed through the Dark o' the River!

So I pray to the Lord in my bed here ashore
A fair weather passage please give her,
For there's shipmates aboard I may see no more
Till we've passed through the Dark o' the River!


Here's the original poem from where I first found it:

By William McFee, 1909
From Songs of the Sea and Sailors' Chanteys, edited by Robert Frothingham, published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Cambridge, US, © 1924, p. 134; first published in The New York Evening Post.

High Tide at 4 AM

They've tipped and they've shoveled, they've trimmed and they've stored,
And she's down to her load-line as ever;
The bridge is swung round and the pilot's aboard
And she's off to the dark o' the river.

Farewell to the grime and the dust of the tips,
It may be a month or for ever:
She's watched by the skeleton ghosts on the slips
As she ploughs through the dark o' the river.

She is one with the Mill and the Mine and the Mart;
Black coal is her cargo as ever:
You may sneer as you will, but she carries my heart
'Way down in the dark o' the river.

So I pray to the Lord in my bed here ashore
A fair weather passage to give her,
For there's shipmates aboard I may never see more
Till we've passed through the Dark o' the River!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Nov 09 - 08:43 PM

I've just checked the chords to Make and Break Harbour" in Stan Rogers' songbook and it seems as if I've missed some (copy and paste into WORD/TIME/12 to line up chords):

G------------------------------Em------------------C-----------------------D
They've tipped and they've shoveled, they've trimmed and they've stored,
------------C----------------------------D
And she's down to her load-line as ever;
------G-----------------G7--------------C------------Bm
The bridge is swung round as she's leaving this town,
-------------D----------------------D7
And she's off to the dark o' the river.
------G-----------Em--------------C-----------D
Fare-well to the grime and the dust of the tips,
---C---------------------D--D7
It may be a month or for-ever:
-------G-----------------G7------------C---------------Bm
She's watched by the ships and the ghosts on the slips
---------D-----------------------D7---------G
As she ploughs through the dark o' the river.


-------C-----------D----------------G----------Em
Fare-well to the grime and the dust of the tips,
---G---------Em--------C
It may be a month or forever:
-------G-----------------Em------------G--------------C
She's watched by the ships and the ghosts on the slips
---------D-----------------------D7---------G
As she ploughs through the dark o' the river.

I'm still not sure of the Bm's but what the heck!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Jan 10 - 03:26 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Anglogeezer
Date: 30 Jan 10 - 05:12 PM

This is a thread that I have followed with great interest.
That's what happens after a lifetime at sea (Clan Line/Union Castle/LOF/NSF) and an interest in folk music!
Here's a poem about the seamen that we lost during the war that I came across a few years ago. I always meant to put a tune to it but never did.

Jake

***********************
                        Heroes

                        by David Partridge (Botany Bay, Australia)

Don't speak to me of heroes, until you've heard the tale
Of Britain's merchant seamen who sailed through storm and gale
To keep those lifelines open in our nation's hour of need
When a tyrant cast a shadow, across our island breed.
Captains, greasers, cabinboys; mates and engineers
Heard the call to duty and cast aside their fears.
They stoked those hungry boilers and stood behind the wheel
While cooks and stewards manned the guns on coffins made of steel.

They moved in icy convoys from Scapa to Murmansk
And crossed the Western Ocean, never seeking thanks.
They sailed the South Atlantic, where raiders lay in wait
And kept the food lines open from Malta to the Cape.
Tracked by silent U-boats which hunted from below,
Shelled by mighty cannons and fighters flying low,
They clung to burning lifeboats where the sea had turned to flame
And watched their shipmates disappear to everlasting fame

I speak, not of a handful but thirty thousand plus,
Some whose names we'll never know, in whom we placed our trust.
They never knew the honour of medals on their chests
Or marching band and victory and glory and the rest.
The ocean is their resting place, their tombstone is the wind,
The seabird's cry their last goodbye to family and friends.
Freighters, troopships, liners and tankers by the score,
Fishing boats and coasters, two thousand ships and more
Flew the proud red duster as they sank beneath the waves
And took those countless heroes to their lonely, ocean graves.

Their legacy is freedom to those who hold it dear,
To walk with clear horizons and never hide in fear
So, when you speak of heroes, remember those at sea
From Britain's Merchant Navy, who died to keep us free.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 11:31 AM

Jake-

Thanks for contributing this. You should forward "Heroes" to one of the Merchant Navy Songs websites.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 03:37 AM

Jake, thanks for the poem, what a grand one, the MN 's role, and casualties in both WW1 & WW11 has been overlooked, both in history and in "folk music/poetry". And it's nice to hear from an ex Clansman.

Ron


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 24 Sep 10 - 07:35 AM

Now Clan Line & Blue Funnel and Donaldson's have gone,
'Long with old Tosh & Josh, you know, Harrison's
And Palm Line & the Sugar Line and Shaw Saville are no more
But worse than that, I have heard 'Danny's Bar' has shut the door.
Ch.
Yes 'Danny's Bar' in Antwerp known to seamen near and far
And o what times we used to have down in 'Danny's Bar'.

From the outside it was nothing but the welcome once inside
When the girls met with 'sailor Jack' their joy they couldn't hide
The beer, the wine, the brandy too like water it would flow
But no more, because I've heard 'Danny's Bar' has shut the door.

O those 'ladies' sitting in that bar! So beautiful to see
And many a first trip 'prentice lad would take one on his knee. He'd think it was his birthday as she'd let him feel some more
But he won't be feeling now because 'Danny's Bar' has shut the door.

Then there'd be a shriek of horror, and his face turned a deathly pale
As he found to his dismay 'she' was not quite female.
And as he fled into the night with laughter we'd all roar.
But there's no laughter now because 'Danny's Bar' has shut the door.

Now 'old seadogs' will tell tales, some tall, but some are true
'Bout when they'd dock in Antwerp and that one place they all knew
And the happy times they have there, once they knew the score
But tales are all that's left now. 'Danny's Bar'ore! has shut the door.


Danny's Bar in Antwerp was one of the best known bars throughout the M.N., even to those who never went there! It was as well known as say Charlie Brown's in London, or 'Ma Gleason's' in New Zealand.
The events described above, did happen [many, many, times!].
But Danny's is no more, it fell victim to redevelopment, and the 'ladies'? Well no doubt they are still around somewhere.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,nigel erricker
Date: 12 Oct 10 - 04:58 PM

Great to see some of these classics written down for posterity.

I can remember an S.S & A boat ( or was it Port Line) slipping
out of Napier one morning in the 1970's with the deckies singing as
they 'let go for'ard'.
There was much huffing and puffing in the local media about the
young girls going aboard at all hours and the hi jinks in the
'Cabana Hotel'. The TV turned up in time to film this ship
so the deckies gave a rousing version of 'When we get home we'll all get the sack, but we don't give a fuck 'cos we ain't coming back'


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 26 Oct 10 - 10:42 AM

Nigel, the line 'When we get home etc' is a line used in one of the many versions of 'M.V. Hardship'....

             The Bosun cried "smoko"
             The lads said "right o"
             Then down the gangway
             Shoreside did go.
             The Mate he stood screaming
             That we'd all get the sack
             But we don't give a damn
             'Cause we're not coming back


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 29 Oct 10 - 08:25 AM

I was checking up on David Partridge's "Heroes" poem posted by Jake (Anglogeezer) in January (somehow missed this at the time) and found this website:-

http://www.ss-tregenna.co.uk/index.htm

belonging to the Merchant Navy Association, Barry Branch. There's a Song Board:-

http://www.ss-tregenna.co.uk/Merchant_Songs.htm

and a Poem Board:-

http://www.ss-tregenna.co.uk/Poem_Board.htm

Lots of interesting material there.
Anybody know anything about David Partridge, author of "Heroes"?


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Mar 11 - 04:53 AM

david collier.
when I was a small boy - say 1940-45, we welcomed many cpts/chief engineers/first mates from oil tankers into our house in Bristol. Many fell victim to U-Boats but a song survives in my memory- i think it came from Texas:
"i clicked with an indian lady,
she stood about six foot high.
the colour of her hair was sky blue pink
and she only had one eye.
come and have a zig-zag zula,
come and have a zig-zag zu.
and when i die dont bury me at all,
just pickle my feet in alcohol! "

very daring and exciting to a 4-9 year old boy and often sung by men living close to horrific death. just a fragment - i would like it to live on.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 07 Mar 11 - 05:59 AM

Dave, many thanks for your contribution. Songs 'made up' by MN men have been, almost, forgotton/ignored by collectors. This thread is an attempt to gather whatever is 'floating about' in folks memories. Ron


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Mar 11 - 08:14 AM

Dave-

Your verse seems to combine some lines from the "Zula Warrior" originally from South Africa with some traditional Appalachian lines (the last two). Gotta love this stuff!

Do you remember any more?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,ginger beer
Date: 09 May 11 - 06:20 AM

I finished my time and I thought it was fine
to pack up my bags for the sea
Signed on as a Junior on the MV Petunia
But I soon realized my folee

Chorus
Hey ho stand by to go
Keep the job running and get down below
The main engine is waiting
The oil's ciculating
For we are the bold Engineers

The second's a dog and the Chief's on the grog
and I'm wishing myself far from here
No use saying you're tired when the scavenge 's on fire
and the oil is pumped into the sea

The Mates plot the stars using Pluto and Mars
While we're down below sweating tears
It's no use what they're proving
Cos we wouldn't be moving
If not for the bold Engineers


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 09 May 11 - 07:31 AM

ginger beer-

"when the scavenge 's on fire"?

Now there's an interesting phrase.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Max Johnson
Date: 09 May 11 - 11:08 AM

It took me a while to dig this one out, but I eventually found it. Apologies if somebody has already posted it and I missed it.
The tune I heard it sung to was 'Maggie May'. I'm afraid I don't know who wrote it.

Oh, you've seen him in the street
Walkin' round on groggy feet
You've seen him clutch a lamp-post for support
Or you've seen him arm in arm
with a girl of doubtful charm
Who was leadin' Johnny safely into Port

You've reeled in disgust
When he grovelled in the dust,
You're revolted when you see him on the spree
But just you take a trip
On his lonely merchant ship
plowing furrows on a sub-infested sea

He fought the raging Hun
With a pipsqueak little gun
He ruined Adolf Hitler's mighty plan
Yes he's a menace he's a nut
He's the bloody limit but
He's just a merchant service sailorman

And when the war is over
You'll recall the straits of Dover
And all the other seven seas as well?
Where simple men like these
Brought home your bread and cheese
You will remember, wont you?
Will you Hell!!


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 09 May 11 - 11:23 AM

You wait ages for a bus and then two come along at once - similarly with merchant navy songs, it seems!

Thanks for two great contribhutions, "ginger beer" and Max Johnson. Was there a tune to go with the "Bold Engineers" song, gb?

Any info on where and when you came across them?

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,ginger beer
Date: 09 May 11 - 11:54 PM

I first heard the song in Shaw Savill in the early '70s. I can't remember which ship.
There was a tune but as far as I know it was it's own tune and not something well known.
The Scavenge's on fire...... fire in the scavenge air trunk which happened quite frequently in these old B&W 2 stroke exhaust piston type engines. Particularly the Shaw Savill C class ships eg Cedric, Canopic, Carnatic etc. Happy Days !


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Max Johnson
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:13 AM

I'm glag you like the song, Ross. I think I got it from a guy in a folk club somewhere who wrote it out for me when I said how much I liked it. That would probably be in the late '70s. He didn't write down the title so if it has one, I don't know it. No doubt I intended to sing it but sadly I never did.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 May 11 - 07:29 AM

ginger beer-

Thanks for the engineering explanation of "scavenge's on fire." It's nice to have some sense of what these terms mean.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 11 May 11 - 10:06 AM

There's a song above, posted by Fidjit (09 Apr 09), "Channels" by Graham Penny, which describes the feelings of a merchant seaman approaching home after a long trip away.

Sometime last year Ron brought me a song which also mentions the "channel fever". He had written it to the tune of "What a friend we have in Jesus" aka "When this bloody war is over". I have been looking out for something to sing to that tune, so I thanked him for the song, filed it away and promptly forgot about it!

Fortunately I re-discovered it about a month ago, and we used it to round off our presentation of "Farewell to the Clan Line" at the recent Shanty Festival at the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum, where it went down very well.

It's a version of the complaining or "dripping" songs that Ron found during his time at sea. This one is about Bank Line, owned by the ANDREW WEIR SHIPPING & TRADING CO. LTD. There's a comprehensive history here:- http://www.red-duster.co.uk/AWEIR.htm .

More notes follow the song.

The Red Duster , the website of the Merchant Navy Association (and no relation of our duo "Red Duster"!) is a great resource for info on ships and shipping.

Ross


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BANK LINE SONG (Andrew Weirs)
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 11 May 11 - 10:11 AM

THE BANK LINE SONG (ANDREW WEIRS)
(Ron Baxter) Tune:- What a Friend We have in Jesus

When this endless voyage is over no more tramp ships will I see
I will swear upon the Bible, Bank Line have seen the last of me.
No more trips around to Auckland, from Auckland round to Baltimore
Then round the world to San Francisco, Fiji, Guam and Singapore.

The clerk, down in the "Pool" office said "There's a berth with Andrew Weirs;
A nice wee run out there to Kiwi". He didn't say 'twould last two years.
Two years since we left the Humber, two years since I saw my wife;
My brother wrote "Some bloke keeps calling: rumours 'bout the two are rife".

Two years stuck down in the stoke-hold, shov'lling the dross the Chief has bought
Half the coal brass he will pocket; I hope one day that he gets caught.
Likewise the thieving old Chief Steward, though 4 and 3's our feeding rate
He feeds us rice and old dead donkeys, so his profit he can take.

Half the crew have gone "doo-lally"; the sparks was like that when we sailed;
Two stewards reckon they are married, the cook thinks he's the Prince of Wales.
But now we've got the "channel fever" we've got it hot and that's because
Tomorrow we pay off in the Mersey, so stick the Bank Line up your arse!

When this endless voyage is over no more tramp ships will I see
I will swear upon the Bible, Bank Line have seen the last of me.
No more trips around to Auckland, from Auckland round to Baltimore
Then round the world to San Francisco, Fiji, Guam and Singapore.
For now we've got the 'channel fever' we've got it hot and that's because
Tomorrow we pay off in the Mersey, so stick the Bank Line up your arse!

Andrew Weirs Bank Line were tramp ships, and notorious for long trips, two years was not uncommon. The "pool" was the Shipping Office where seamen went to "get a ship". They only had three chances; if they refused all three ships offered they were suspended. As in many companies the Chief Engineer was given a "coal allowance" to buy best steam coal, so if he could get cheap coal he'd pocket the difference . The "4 and 3" [four shillings and threepence] refers to the daily "rate" per man that the Chief Steward was allowed for feeding purposes. (RB)


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,Rod Fountain
Date: 25 May 11 - 05:40 PM

Hi All,

I joined Clan Line in 1965 as a junior engineer, my first boat being the Clan Malcolm, a beautifully fitted out vessel with wood panelling and even a pink bathroom! I carried on with the Clan boats until 1973 and sailed on some fruit boats including the infamous Rustenburg Castle.

As regards songs and shanties, I recognise most of those posted, although I see no mention of 'The Lampton Worm' (it grewed an awfee size). I think it is a geordie song but I can't recall the rest of the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 26 May 11 - 05:20 AM

Rod, I agree with you about the Clan Malcolm, I sailed twice on her, firstly as a cadet & then as 3rd Mate. I 'escaped the 'Rusty Bucket' but got landed with the King Charles! As for the Lampton Worm it's probably in the Mudcat data base, unless there's a MN parody of it out there somewhere it would not be included in this thread. Nice to hear from an ex-Clansman. Ron


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 26 May 11 - 08:08 AM

The Lambton Worm is indeed in the database (click on the link to go there). No merchant navy parodies as far as I know. The song was popular in folk clubs in the seventies, haven't heard it much since.

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,John Parry R/O
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 12:13 PM

My first trip deep-sea was with Boozy Bozy - he cheered us up by telling us the score two seconds after all the officers had thrown darts at the ship's dartboard simultaneously- but depressed us intensely by reciting Greville's Revenge every time the whisky bottle came out. Then the sneezin' started - lol !!


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 04:21 PM

I'm curious if anyone has run across the chorus of this old drinking song about a spree in Singapore: click here!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Sep 11 - 01:47 PM

Here's a newly composed Singapore sailortown song inspired by a poem by marine engineer and writer William McFee, referred to above. There wasn't a lot to the original verses but I liked the chorus and with the help of Stan Hugill's description of Singapore from his book Sailortown I've composed a tale which I hope is infused with the right spirit (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up the chords):

By William McFee, 1909
From Songs of the Sea and Sailors' Chanteys, edited by Robert Frothingham, published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Cambridge, US, © 1924, p. 208; first published in The New York Evening Post.
Verses by Charles Ipcar, © 2011
Tune: Charles Ipcar, © 2011

Drink to the Men Who've Gone Ashore

Dm--C--Dm-------C---F-----Dm--C---- Dm
Now the Skipper and Chief have gone ashore
-----------------F----C-Dm
They're off to Sail-or-town,
--------Gm--------------------Dm---F-Dm
So I'll tell you a tale of Old Sing-a-pore,
-------------C---Dm-C-----Dm
While we pass the bottle round.
---Gm----------------------Dm-F-Dm
I'll tell you a tale of Old Sing-a-pore,
----Gm-------------Dm
Of famous Malay Street,
------Gm---------------Dm-F--Dm
With its samshu dives by the score,
-----------C---Dm-C------Dm
And the rick-sha girls so sweet.

Chorus:

Dm-------C------F----Dm--- C-----Dm
So drink to the men who've gone ashore,
--------------------F-------C----Dm
With a one-two-three – rum-tum!
Gm--------------------------Dm--F------Dm
Half a dozen men on the mess room floor,
C-----------------------------F----C-Dm
Drink to the men who've gone a-shore,
Gm-------------------------Dm-----F--Dm
Six good men with their throats all sore –
----C--Dm-C---------Dm
Yo ho for a bottle o' rum!



As I was cruising down the Street,
After a drop or twa,
I spied a girl just like a pearl,
Alone in a Jin-rick-sha.
So pretty and neat with long black hair,
Dressed in silks so fine,
She smiled at me and waved her hand,
And her jade green eyes did shine. (CHO)

So I climbed aboard and off we rolled,
Through the shadows of the night;
Till we fetched up to her compound gate,
Gleaming in the pale moonlight.
She pulled the cord and a gong did sound,
The dragon gate swung wide;
She took my hand and led me on
To her chamber deep inside. (CHO)

She brought me a glass of samshu wine,
And smiled at me again;
She knelt beside me on the mat
And my head began to spin;
Now when I awoke, late next morn,
My head was still aflame;
I was lying naked on the quay,
Bruised and in great pain. (CHO)

So heed my warning, one and all,
If you cruise Old Singapore,
Don't cha spend your nights with the rick-sha girls,
They'll rock and roll you sure;
Don't cha spend your nights with the rick-sha girls,
Don't cruise Old Singapore,
But get married, lads, and settle down,
And go to sea no more,
And go to sea no more!

Here's a link to an MP3 sample of how I sing this song: click here for MP3 sample!

By William McFee, 1909
From Songs of the Sea and Sailors' Chanteys, edited by Robert Frothingham, published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Cambridge, US, © 1924, p. 208; first published in The New York Evening Post.

Drink to the Men Who Have Gone Ashore (original poem)

The Skipper and Chief have gone ashore
And each is a married man,
So I'll tell you a tale of Singapore,
Of the ladies of old Japan;
The Second Mate's guitar will twang
And everyone must sing
While Geordie Muir o' Cambuslang
Will gi' ye a Hielan fling: –

O drink to the men who have Gone Ashore
With a one-two-three – rum-tum!
Half a dozen men on the Mess Room Floor,
Drink to the men who have Gone Ashore –
Yo ho for a bottle o' rum!

I told the tale of Singapore
And they laughed till the tears ran down,
So I told another (they asked for more)
Of dear old London Town:
Then Geordie Muir, who'd been to Japan,
He told us a tale or twa
Of a little brown woman and a big brown man
Alone in a Jin-rick-sha: –

O drink to the men who have Gone Ashore
(I 'spect they're drinkin' some).
Half a dozen men on the Mess Room Floor,
Six good men with their throats all sore
Drinkin' to the men who have Gone Ashore –
(Both of 'em married – O dear, O Lor!)
Yo ho for a bottle o' rum!

Notes from a contemporary reporter:

Karayuki-san

The development of the Japanese enclave in Singapore was connected to the establishment of brothels east of the Singapore River, namely along Hylam, Malabar, Malay and Bugis streets during the late 1890s. The Japanese prostitutes or Karayuki-san dubbed Malay Street as Suteretsu, a transliteration of the English word "street". A Japanese reporter in 1910 described the scene for the people of Kyushu in a local newspaper, the Fukuoka Nichinichi:

Around nine o'clock, I went to see the infamous Malay Street. The buildings were constructed in a western style with their facades painted blue. Under the verandah hung red gas lanterns with numbers such as one, two or three, and wicker chairs were arranged beneath the lanterns. Hundreds and hundreds of young Japanese girls were sitting on the chairs calling out to passers-by, chatting and laughing... most of them were wearing yukata of striking colours... Most of them were young girls under 20 years of age. I learned from a maid at the hotel that the majority of these girls came from Shimabara and Amakusa in Kyushu.


Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Feb 12 - 04:23 PM

There's a number of merchant mariner songs of recent vintage on the British India Ship website (http://www.biship.com/song).

Here's a sample:

By Douglas Boyd

TO BOMBAY

Both tugs are in attendance, one astern and one ahead,
And the order comes from our Clan's bridge to let go,
"She's off the berth now, Sir", and the Master nods his head,
And the Third Mate at the engine telegraph rings "Ahead Slow",
Pilot leaves at the Bar and "H" flag is pulled down,
Log streamed, and we're now full away,
Goodbye wintry Britain and cold Birkenhead town,
As we voyage,
Across the world,
To Bombay.

Cape Finisterre's light, flashing bright in the night,
The coast of Portugal slips swiftly away,
Past Rock of Gibraltar, British emblem of might,
And heading East, towards dawn of day,
The climate becomes warm, with the sky clear and bright,
And Master has decided that we change uniforms to white,
On balmy days like these, it's a delight to be,
On a fine British ship, on a cobalt blue sea.

Three lights ahead, on a reciprocal course,
"Dig out the Signal Lamp" and let's practice our Morse,
"What Ship, Where Bound ?", probably a Dutchman or Greek,
but she's Bibby's "Warwickshire", with holds full of teak,
Five days through the Med to Egypt's Port Said,
Past Algiers, and Malta, Cape Bon,
To drop some parcels of cargo, have fresh water supplied,
And top up the bunkers before going on.

In the Great Bitter Lake, we stop and drop our port hook,
And lean on the bridge rail and have a good look,
The Northbound convoy is stirring, and, picking up speed,
BI's splendid white "Uganda" is taking the lead,
With "Floristan, Salsette, City of Brisbane, Elpenor,
Helenus , Mahronda, Martaban and Benmhor",
A funnel we know, two red bands on black,
"Clan MacLaren" from Colombo, full of tea, and heading back,
What a magnificent stately procession,
The pride of Britain's fleet,
Bringing Chalnas' jute for our carpets,
And Australian apples for us to eat.

We pass out of the Canal at Suez, into searingly hot Red Sea,
This is now petroleum country for, as far as you can see,
A long long line of tankers, hauling oil to the West,
Over there is Shell's three island "Haminella", and a smart blue-painted Maersk,
There's BP's pristine "British Kestrel", and "Caltex Mozambique",
And another Shell, "Achatina", and an unknown rusty Greek,
All very low in the water,
Full of products or Arabian crude,
They are our European lifeline,
Carrying machinery's liquid food.

Aden's Navy stores over the side into lighters,
For the Aircraft Carrier and her fighters,
And some Destroyers and Frigates in the bay,
Put the engines on stand-by, slip the buoys, a glorious orangey- pink-red sky,
Goodnight Arabia, full speed ahead, and now we're away,
Ship steering North East, in a strengthening breeze,
Everything well battened down, as we expect heavy seas,
Windscoops retracted, and all ports screwed tight,
We pitch and roll constantly, to the Indian Ocean's might.

There's Strick's colourful "Khuzistan", going very fast,
We pass about a mile apart, and she salutes us with a blast,
Attractive Gulf-run "Dwarka", far away to port,
Hain's "Tremorvah" and Reardon Smith's "Welsh City",
And a Liberian war-built Fort,
A Scindia Jala-boat crosses, much closer than a cable,
And there's no doubt in our minds what's on HER dinner table,
She's moving really quite slowly, in no particular hurry,
The following wind carries to us, a strong aroma of their curry.

Ten days to discharge our heavy cargo, railway lines, industrial parts,
Then clean the holds, consult the loading plan, correct the Navigational charts,
Evening visits to the B.I. Club, enjoy an ice-cold beer,
Talk shop in elegant surroundings, lots of news and gossip to hear,
Meet friends from "Karanja" and "Kampala", "Clan MacInnes, Santhia",
See "City of Karachi" arrive, and departure of "Sangola",
We're loading cloth and carpets, tea and sisal, coir mats,
Manganese for industry, fish meal to feed the cats,
Our ship is now ready, pilot aboard, and rigged for sea,
Until next time,
"Al-vee-dah", India,
Land of spice and rice, rupee.

(Contributed by Douglas Boyd, who wrote it originally for Clan Line, from British India Ship website: http://www.biship.com/song)

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 06 Feb 12 - 08:59 PM

Corrected British India link:-

http://www.biship.com/song.htm


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Feb 12 - 10:05 PM

Ross-

That version of the link certainly is more reliable.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,Clan Line Photos
Date: 01 Mar 12 - 05:16 PM

Hi again all,

I have ordered Tony Blacklers book of photographs of Clan Line ships from '45 to '76 from Amazon UK. No new copies available but some used, I should get it this week.

Rod Fountain


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 01 Mar 12 - 10:34 PM

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CLAN-LINE-PHOTOGRAPHS-FIRST-40-YEARS-MERCHANT-NAVY-SHIPS-EXC-/180804191083?pt=Non_Fiction&hash=item2a1

That's a good price. I managed to acqire all three books a while ago. Ron is currently working his way through them, making sketches of the vessels he sailed on.

These also available:-

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Clan-Line-Photographs-v-2-Peace-Peace-191-/270770119367?pt=US_Nonfiction_Book&hash=item3f0b2822c7

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Clan-Line-Photographs-Tony-Blackler-/270770119365?pt=US_Nonfiction_Book&hash=item3f0b2822c5

Still looking for a cheaper copy of this one:-
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Clan-Line-Illustrated-Fleet-History/dp/1901703479/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1330657604&sr=8-2

For a long time this was the only history available:-
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Clan-Line-Gathering-Clans-History-Clan-Line-Steamers-1988-Signed-/190640693304?pt=Antiquarian_Books_UK

Several copies of "The Clan Line in the Great War", Archibald Hurd, published by Clan Line Steamers in 1924, listed on Bookfinder.com (£39 and upwards).

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 06 Mar 12 - 03:48 PM

From the Liverpool Folk Song a Week blog (with many thanks to Richard from Liverpool for the compliment of picking up one of these songs):-

MV Statesman

Some commentators reckon "Parental Guidance" advisory on this one. Maybe so - sadly nothing you wouldn't hear on the street these days. It's posted above (29th April 2008) as it came to Ron. From my notes at the time:- "Ron submitted songs and notes to Roy Palmer when he was revising the Oxford Book of Sea Songs (republished as Boxing the Compass). Receiving a complimentary copy from Roy with thanks for his contributions, Ron was looking forward to showing off the book with his collected songs in print at last. He was a bit dismayed to find Roy had included the above song unexpurgated, thus severely limiting the range of sisters, cousins and aunts to whom the book could be shown!"

Ross


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Mar 12 - 05:11 PM

Ross-

I posted the above link with a warning on my Facebook page for friends.

That song certainly clears the decks, not to mention the maiden aunts.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 06 Mar 12 - 10:36 PM

Matthew Edwards (Port Sunlight ) posted there too.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 07 Jan 13 - 05:52 AM

Here's one of mine, tune by Chris LOck [of Fore & Aft]
Title: Tramps or Shanty for steam

She's a long haul, black hulled British tramp sir
CH. Fire! Fire! Shovel in the coal
Owned by Ropners, KIng or Bank Sir--
Or LOndon Greeks. Shovel in the coal.

With five hatches, a woodbine funnel CH.
Her Plimsole line's above her gun'al.
Her ash pit's full. Shovel in the coal.

With a fire tube boiler, a condensing, CH
Triple expansion compound engine
Smash the clinker. Shovel in the coal

She's no greyhound, no Cunarder CH
Firing her is a damn sight harder.
Watch on, watch off. Shovel in the coal.

Carries grain or coal or bricks sir CH
Would even sail the River Styx sir
If the charter's right. Shovel in the coal.

Cheap coal foll of shale and slate sir CH
It wont fire and clogs the grate sir
The strum box's choked. Shovel in the coal.

Flies a smoke blacked old Red Duster CH
She keeps going 'cause we trust her--
Her 'black gang' who shovel in the coal.

notes. Ropners[pronounced Rope ners], King & Bank were 'tramp'outfits.
Watch on watch off, many pre war tramps worked on a 2 rather      than a 3 watch system.
Black gang... firemen & trimmers


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,Phil L
Date: 16 Jul 13 - 07:49 AM

Phil L
to Guest Ian Wallace dated 08 Dec 08.
My father taught me some of this song (my mother freaked)...

Now down in the stoke hole there forty foot deep
the chief caught the firemen their all fast asleep
get up you lazy bastards get on with the job
especially (some name) you're a lazy ol sod

And there in the galley a god damn disgrace
With bottles of beer all over the place
The second cook's drunk and the galley boy too
Just like the rest of the whole god damn crew

I will try and remember some more of this and add in due course...

p_lovering@hotmail.com


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,sailor ron
Date: 10 Oct 13 - 11:41 AM

CH. Her 'old man's ' the lavy man on the Elder Dempster LIne
    He wears a nice blue uniform with brass buttons o so fine
    He mops,and cleans, and polishes, his toilet bowls they shine
    Yes,her'old man's 'the lavatory man on the Elder Dempster Line.

When first she saw his uniform she thought he was the Chief,
The Captain, or Chief Steward, at the very least
But it was on their honeymoon the trouble it began
When she found her 'old man' he was the lavatory man

'Cause she'd all her friends he had an impotant role,
And of course that was correct, he's in charge of the toilet rolls!
But she knew that they would laugh if the truth they'd find
That her 'old ma's' the lavatory man on the Elder Dempster Line

One day as he was working he opened a toilet door
But looked on in horror when a lady there he saw
"I'm very sorry madame, didn't mean to cause distress"
"That's alright" a bass voice replied, 'twas a steward in a dress!

Now all the first class passengers after every trip
To the bar staff, and the stewards, they give generous tips.
But if they forget him, still he shakes their had
'Cause he knows where his hands have been,'cause he's the lavatory man!


Adapted & expanded from song collected from Captain Peter Woodworth of Fleetwood, who 'served his time' with Elder Dempster's
The tune, of course, is My Old Man's a dustman.


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Oct 13 - 12:27 PM

Phil L's song looks like it goes to "Strike, Strike the Bell," yes?


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Subject: RE: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs
From: GUEST,sailor ron
Date: 14 Oct 13 - 10:12 AM

Yes! Fits it perfectly doesn't it!


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