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Chanteys in Royal Navy?

Lighter 16 Aug 17 - 02:22 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Aug 17 - 03:14 PM
Lighter 16 Aug 17 - 09:27 PM
Gurney 19 Aug 17 - 07:10 PM
Gibb Sahib 19 Aug 17 - 11:15 PM
vectis 21 Aug 17 - 03:26 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 21 Aug 17 - 03:45 AM
Teribus 21 Aug 17 - 05:35 AM
Gibb Sahib 21 Aug 17 - 08:32 AM
GUEST,Derrick 21 Aug 17 - 09:26 AM
Steve Gardham 21 Aug 17 - 01:23 PM
Dave the Gnome 21 Aug 17 - 03:35 PM
Dave the Gnome 21 Aug 17 - 03:52 PM
Gibb Sahib 21 Aug 17 - 07:05 PM
Teribus 22 Aug 17 - 02:21 AM
Leadfingers 22 Aug 17 - 04:38 AM
Gibb Sahib 22 Aug 17 - 04:49 AM
GUEST 22 Aug 17 - 05:54 AM
Teribus 22 Aug 17 - 06:39 AM
bazza 23 Aug 17 - 03:50 AM
GUEST,Derrick 24 Aug 17 - 12:09 PM
GUEST,Tyro Sailor 24 Aug 17 - 08:33 PM
GUEST,Derrick 25 Aug 17 - 04:14 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 Aug 17 - 05:11 AM
Gibb Sahib 26 Aug 17 - 09:59 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Aug 17 - 09:07 AM
GUEST,Derrick 27 Aug 17 - 09:38 AM
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Subject: Early Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Aug 17 - 02:22 PM

It's generally agreed that chanteys were not routinely permitted in the Royal Navy of the "Great Age of Chanteying," ca.1830-1880.

But there's at least one apparent reference to RN sailors of the previous generation singing while hauling.

From Marine Lieut. Henry Barnet Gascoigne, "Gascoigne's Path to Naval Fame," 2nd edition (1825), p.75:

"Beating to Windward...
Now with a song the Bow-lines well they Haul;
The Weather Braces then Haul-taught of all."

On the other hand, as Hugill and others observe, the bowline (regardless of the well-known chantey) was not the sort of rope that needed a whole song. Gascoigne himself defines it as follows (p.167):

"Small ropes attached the Leeches or sides of the sails, to bowse or draw the weather side forward when sailing upon a wind, that is, beating to windward."

But possibly what Gascoigne heard was merely a "sing-out" or a single line.

According to correspondent in the Times (Aug. 26, 1918), Gascoigne served in the RN frigate Melpomene in 1805.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Aug 17 - 03:14 PM

Hi Jon
Gibb would no doubt have the actual references but I seem to remember
the east coast naval cutters that specialised in pressing seamen were known to have sung chanteys during the Napoleonic Wars. The particular chantey mentioned was 'Cheerily-man'. Whether this type of chanteying was related in some way to the great mid-Atlantic period c1830-60 I couldn't say. I very much doubt if the word 'chantey'
as applied to sea labour song was used during the Napoleonic Wars. Note that in the above poem the word 'chantey' is not used though it certainly appears to be a sea-labour song being described. Has Gibb finished his book yet?


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Aug 17 - 09:27 PM

Steve, I seem to remember the same thing.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gurney
Date: 19 Aug 17 - 07:10 PM

A guy that I knew long ago used to say that the "Only shanty allowed in the RN was 'Blow the Man Down'"

Could possibly be used on the capstan, I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Aug 17 - 11:15 PM

Hauling a bowline was a "short haul" task, comparable to "boarding a tack" (tack being the line attached to the a clew of the course, below where a bowline is attached, to the leech).

Sailing ships nowadays generally don't have bowlines. I suppose there must be a few that do, perhaps replicas of 18th and early 19th century vessels? It's not something I've paid close attention to, but my non-authoritative impression is that they generally are not part of the rigging.

There is a classic book about rigging from 1915 (?); I don't remember the name. But it makes the point that in Elizabethan times bowlines were more "important" lines and, I think, heavier. I believe this is the point that Hugill was repeating when he tried to reason an age for the "Haul the Bowline" song. I consider Hugill's point to be moot to the argument about the age of "Haul the Bowline," however, since bowlines evidently were still in use in the mid-19th century, i.e. at the same time when "Haul the Bowline" appears in literature.

I'm no expert on the timeline of bowline use. However, Harlow (who sailed in 1875) talks about bowlines. He says that sing-outs were sung when "hauling aft the sheet of the courses, boarding the main tack, or hauling out the bowline" (pg 5).

In _The Sailor's Word-Book_ by Smyth, 1867, the author refers to the use of bowlines, and does not say it was old/obsolete. Further, he defines the term "Bowline haul", pg 124:

//
A hearty and simultaneous bowse. (See One! Two!! Three !!!) In hauling the bowline it is customary for the leading man to veer, and then haul, three times in succession, singing out one, two, three—at the last the weight of all the men is thrown.
//

Elsewhere he denies "One, two three!" (pg 506)
//
The song with which the seamen bowse out the bowlines; the last haul being completed by belay O!
//

In Falconer's _Universal Dictionary of the Marine_, 1760s, he defined "un, deus, troi":
//
...an exclamation, or song, used by seamen when hauling the bowlines, the greatest effort being made at the last word. English sailors, in the same manner, call out on this occasion,—haul-in—haul-two—haul-belay!
//

It may be less significant that Smyth uses the phrase "singing out" and more significant that Falconer calls this simple 1,2,3 "an exclamation, or song."

There are some other references in French to vocalizing while giving stiff pulls on a bowline.

While the idea of "chanties" not being sung in navy vessels is basically true, I wouldn't read that to exclude *vocalizing* during the short hauls, i.e. bowline, tack, course sheet, and various difficult "sweats" that required multiple people.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: vectis
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 03:26 AM

I don't think the RN had shanteys, they did évolutions' which were a series of moves to achieve an action. They were practiced using a command and then counting numbers until that part of the evolution was completed. I am sure that fore-bitters were heard especially during make do and mend days.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 03:45 AM

William Bolton supplied a number of songs to folk song collector Anne Gilchrist around 1905 which later turned up in the Penguin Book of Folksong.
He had learned shanties in leasure time while serving in the Royal Navy.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Teribus
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 05:35 AM

I'd tend to go with Vectis - Commands in the RN covered evolutions concerning the sailing of the ship and serving the guns. Ship for ship RN vessels carried far larger crews than merchantmen, of those crews roughly half will be asleep, or off watch, at any given time. Singing shanties to "work" the ship would not have gone down well with those off-watch. Commands were given either by shouting numbers (Mainly when serving the guns) and by bosun's call or pipe when handling sail - both of these methods of communication orders would be heard when the ship was in action - a song would not, a song would also be rather bizarre considering what would be going on all round you.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 08:32 AM

Dudes of late:

1. The conventional wisdom, as asserted in 19th and early 20 c. sources, is indeed (already) that chanties were not sung in RN. And the absence of [other] evidence that they were supports that indirectly. No need for speculations about what "would be" the case. Lighter is presenting an actual example that might evidence an *exception* to that conventional wisdom, or which might nuance it. So steamrolling the whole topic with unsupported and non-specific chatter about what one supposes "would be" does not engage the topic.

2. Coordinating a stiff pull on a course sheet or tack in weather was not a matter of a command. The command is finished, the men are on the line. Now, the men are about to haul. Is there a sound to indicate when to pull? If so, what sound? Lighter's source refers to there being a "song." What is meant by song // what was the song? And how does this "song" relate to the popular assertion that (paraphrased) "chanties were not sung in RN"?


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 09:26 AM

When I worked in Devonport Dockyard many years ago I often did jobs on ships which were in commission.
The crews would be carrying out routine jobs some of which would involve
pulling or pushing.
When the men were in position the rating in charge would give a command to ready them,followed by two,six heave,this was repeated as necessary to complete the task.
The effort was co-ordinated without the need for a song.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 01:23 PM

We are all now well aware that chanteys were not necessary and not part of the discipline on board men-of-war in the period under discussion. Having said that there seems to have been a small amount of evidence that chanteys may have been used on the smaller non-combat vessels. The men would certainly have known chanteys as many of them had been merchant seamen.

Jon,
Is Gascoigne definitely describing life in the RN at this point? Could he have been MN before that and remembering what happened there? If he is referring back to 1805 on the Melpomene it seems highly unlikely on 2 accounts.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 03:35 PM

Having an interest in shantys and an uncle that was in the RN I once asked him if he was aware of any such singing. Daft question really seeing as he was never a seaman on a sailing ship but funnily enough he was aware of some shantys. His description was that they should never be sung in mixed company :-) I guess they were what are known as focsle (sp?) songs and never used for work.

DtG


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 03:52 PM

Saw this beauty when last up in Kirkcudbright. She takes on land lubbers like me for a nominal fee and a bit of work. I am very tempted! It would probably kill me off :-)

DtG


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 07:05 PM

I have not seen any evidence for "two, six, heave" before the mid-20th century -- then again, I have not searched hard for any either --

But it stands to reason that if before some 20th c. date the navy men were not saying 2-6-heave in the relevant situations, then what, if anything, were they saying? Well, I've offered evidence that one of the things they said was simply "1-2-3" (which makes a lot more sense than 2-6-heave, now doesn't it!?).

Lighter's reference, which uses the term "song," suggests that either something other than "1-2-3" was recited at that time OR, I think, that the same was vocalized in some way that made it different than ordinary speech.

Steve,
My concern/suggestion is that the various situations in which one might supply a sound to accompany action on a ship include enough diversity that to make blanket statements about "Work chants - yes or no?" is perhaps less enlightening than to focus on the specific task. Somewhat as an aside, I believe that "long drags" halyards and heaving at the lever windlass were the "native" applications for the chanty songs in the strict sense of chanty as a song genre. Prior to the introduction of the chanty genre to ships, the lever windlass situation is moot (it wasn't invented yet) and as for halyards, the evidence doesn't indicate that any singing was customary. The handspike windlass (on merchant ships), capstan (on men of war), and short drags were all other, separate matters I prefer to view case-by-case than under the umbrella of a chanty-ing tradition per se. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Teribus
Date: 22 Aug 17 - 02:21 AM

The "two-six" heave comes from the order for a guns crew to "Heave" on the tackle required to run the gun out prior to it being fired. As previously stated the RN relied on numbers and calls on a bosun's pipe.

"When the men were in position the rating in charge would give a command to ready them,followed by two,six heave,this was repeated as necessary to complete the task.
The effort was co-ordinated without the need for a song."


The command to ready them was the "Two-Six" given by whoever was in charge of the evolution the "Heave" was the response given by those on the rope, or whatever was being pulled.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Aug 17 - 04:38 AM

I was told YEARS ago that one reason Shanties were frowned on in the RN was that they would be an opportunity to be 'impolite' to the ship's officers , to the detriment of good discipline


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Aug 17 - 04:49 AM

Yes, Teribus, "2-6-heave" is a ubiquitous chant used *nowadays* / recently to coordinate effort. Anyone who has worked around ships since the later 20th century has heard it, and probably also heard the "guns" explanation, though people invariably cite no source. Can you date it? I would be obliged if you could. At some point was it a chant only heard in application to moving a cannon in and out of position (as, for example, it's used in demonstration at the U.S.S. Constitution in Boston, MA)? If so, when and why was it adapted for any and all combined-effort tasks? Was it Sail Training International (for example) who decided this military call would be a good one to work into their revival of seamanship, while simultaneously leaving all the chanties behind? (And did they --whoever they were-- not experience dissonance by saying "heave" when they were *hauling*?) And so what about the 1-2-3 and the haul-in-haul-2-belay attested for the 100 years from Falconer to Smyth? Chopped liver?

The OP is talking about 1825.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Aug 17 - 05:54 AM

One explanation I came across some time ago was that 2-6 referred to groundcrew moving an aeroplane, two at the tail and six at the wings. That fits in better with a twentieth century origin for the expression, rather than a mysterious sailing ship guncrew.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Teribus
Date: 22 Aug 17 - 06:39 AM

Read what I said in my first post to this thread Gibb Sahib.

1: "Commands in the RN covered evolutions concerning the sailing of the ship and serving the guns."

2: "Commands were given either by shouting numbers (Mainly when serving the guns) and by bosun's call or pipe when handling sail - both of these methods of communication orders would be heard when the ship was in action - a song would not"

The gun thing is how it was explained to us while in the Royal Navy by RN Seamanship Instructors. As for the "what about the 1-2-3 and the haul-in-haul-2-belay attested for the 100 years from Falconer to Smyth" - Never heard of either and never used either.

2-6-Heave was also used when raising and turning out ships boats when they were hung from unpowered radial davits.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: bazza
Date: 23 Aug 17 - 03:50 AM

2-6 heave Was the standard call during my time in RN 1960`s


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 24 Aug 17 - 12:09 PM

Just found this showing the numbers of gun crew members,not sure how it relates to the origin of the 2-6-heave call number 6 being likely to be little more than a child.

See this link to see full article.

http://www.stvincent.ac.uk/heritage/1797/victory/guns.html


                                                                               The gun was served by a six man crew - known by numbers to make orders easier in the noise of battle. Number 1 was the Gun Captain who aimed and fired the gun. Number 2 used a long spike to turn and raise the barrel; Number 3 loaded the gun and rammed the shot and powder home. Number 4 sponged out the gun, ensuring that no burning powder or waste was left to cause premature ignition of the new charge. Number 5 worked opposite 2 to move the gun whilst Number 6 was the smallest and youngest member of the crew - the powder monkey. Often young boys, perhaps only 10 or 12 years old, the powder monkey collected the gunpowder charges from the magazine deep in the hold of the ship and carried it to the gun.

The whole 3.5 tonnes was now run out, with the crew straining on the carriage ropes to pull the gun muzzle through the gun port in the side of the ship. When the gun came to bear on the target, the gun captain pulled the lanyard to the flint lock. As the flint scraped across the pan a shower of sparks ignited the fine powder - which ignited the main charge and the gun fired, ejecting its iron ball with a forward velocity of some 500 metres per second. The gun would recoil backwards at some 2 metres per second, and the process of cleaning and reloading began again.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Tyro Sailor
Date: 24 Aug 17 - 08:33 PM

A gun with a six-man crew would, I think, have been a fairly small one - maybe a 12- or 18-pounder. Larger guns (24- or 32-pounders) had bigger crews of up to 12 men - maybe numbers 2 & 6 were those who led the heaving of the gun back into its firing position (it would have needed a lot more than just the two of them, unless the ship was heeling to their side).


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 25 Aug 17 - 04:14 AM

If you follow the link the full article describes a gun deck on HMS Victory.
The extract refers to the 32 pounder guns.
So far this is the best description I have found online.
There may be better descriptions elsewhere which I have not found yet.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 Aug 17 - 05:11 AM

Wasn't there a landing gun that had a ten man crew?

1 Corporal
2-6 on the rope
7-10 on the wheel(s)

Big deal at Ladysmith?


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 26 Aug 17 - 09:59 PM

At the risk of fueling off-topic discussion... :o

A cursory Google search suggests that the/an earlier version of the numbered chant was "1, 2, 6, heave." There are references to this in books between 1925 and the 1950s.

Time to invent a new folklore to accommodate the "1"?


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Aug 17 - 09:07 AM

Has this any relevance to chanteys? Just asking!


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 27 Aug 17 - 09:38 AM

Is the discussion about 2-6-heave of relevance to shanties?
Since the thread is about R N shanty usage, yes.
It is widely accepted that the RN rarely if ever used shanties,they used something else in their place 2-6-heave which is in use today as one example.
The discussion is about the origin of the call,ie did it originate in the RN or some where else,it also being in common use.


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