THE JERVIS BAY
It was a bleak November morning with a convoy under way,
When they sighted a German raider from the tops of the Jervis Bay.
"Clear the decks for action" was the order of the day,
And that gallant Captain Fegen then sailed into the fray.
She was only a merchant cruiser against a battleship,
But she took that noble action just to let the convoy slip.
On her decks lay dead and dying. For them the day was won.
When they heard the convoy scattered, they knew their job was done.
Why do we weep? Why do we pray? Those sailors sleep so far away.
They gave their lives that November day, those heroes of the Jervis Bay.
From "The Oxford Book of Sea Songs." The Jervis Bay was a passenger ship that ha
d been converted into an armed merchant cruiser by sticking seven guns on it. On
Nov. 5, 1940, the Jervis Bay was escorting a convoy of 37 merchant ships in the
north Atlantic when the German battleship Admiral Scheer appeared. The captain
of the Jervis Bay ordered the convoy to split up, and then proceeded to attack t
he German ship in a suicidal encounter. In the half-hour or so before the Jervis
Bay was sunk, most of the convoy was able to escape. Captain Fegen was awarded
the Victoria Cross in death. "The Jervis Bay" was apparently sung to a number of
tunes including "Suvla Bay" and "Kevin Barry."
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