BANKS OF SICILY (2)
Fare thee well, ye banks of Sicily,
Fare thee well, ye valley and shore.
There's no Jock will mourn the loss of ye;*
Poor bloody soldiers are weary.
The piper is tuned up and piping away;**
He can't come to toon for his vino today.
The skies o' Messina are cloudy and grey,***
And the song that he's playing is eerie.
It's march doon the square, and light on the bay,
Packs on your back and the boats are away.
Waiting your turn while the pipes and drums play,
And the song that they're playing is eerie.
The drummer is polished, the drummer is grand****
He cannae be seen for his straps and his bands.
He's raised himself up for a photo and stand
To leave wi' his Lola, his dearie.
* for "Jock" others sing "Scot"
** for "The piper is" others sing "The Pipe, he is"
*** for "skies o' Messina are" others sing "skies, like Antrim, all"
**** for "The Drummer is" others sing "The Drum he is"
This version has been recorded several times, e.g. by Schooner Fare
on "The First Ten Years" and the Chad Mitchell Trio on "Reflecting";
The Kingston Trio did it, too. I've also heard Scott Alarik sing it
(he called it "The 145th [?] Highland Regiment's Farewell to the
Island of Sicily"). All seemingly considered the song traditional.
(Although this is hardly a possibility, given that the first of
these recordings was made a bare twenty years after the event.)
It's clearly an Anglicization of Hamish Henderson's
text of the same title. (See BKSICILY) RW, RG
The Allies invaded Sicily on July 10, 1943. The initial landing
was the largest amphibious assault of the Second World War,
involving the American Seventh army under Patton and the British
Eighth under Montgomery. After a difficult campaign, the town of
Messina (the point on Sicily closest to the Italian mainland) was
evacuated by the Germans on August 17. The Allies completed their
occupation of the island that day. Not long afterward, the troops
involved left the island, some to be used for the invasion of
Italy and others for the Normandy landing. RW, RG
@WWII @Scottish @Army
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