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Origin: Hal Far Biss - WWII Song

19 Sep 02 - 09:17 PM (#787927)
Subject: Hal Far Biss
From: CET

I recently bought a folksong book by Norman Luboff and Win Stracke, eds. called "Songs of Man". It contains a song called Hal Far Biss, to the tune of Ar Hyd Y Nos (All Through the Night). Hal Far Biss was an R.A.F. airfield on Malta that was under constant attack from 1940 to 1943. The words go like this:

What's the proudest 'drome in Malta?
Hal Far Biss.
One the Axis could not alter?
Hal Far Biss.
'Neath the weight of mines it's quaking,
Bomb blasts o'er it radiating;
But it's always operating.
Hal Far Biss.

See them rounding Delimara,
Hal Far Biss.
Cross the bay to Kalaframa,
Hal Far Biss.
Stukas dropping thousand pounders,
ME's strafing all around us,
Take three guesses where they found us,
Hal Far Biss.

When we leave and go to Blighty,
Hal Far Biss.
We shall ne'er forget the mighty
Hal Far Biss.
Through the blitzes we preserved it,
And we're proud that we have served it.
Malta's George Cross, who deserved it?
Hal Far Biss.

Luboff doesn't give the author. Does anyone know who wrote this song, or anything else about it?

Edmund


19 Sep 02 - 10:57 PM (#787985)
Subject: RE: Hal Far Biss
From: Joe Offer

Refresh - this sounds interesting.
I have the same book & same background notes, except my copy of the book is called The International Book of Folk Songs.
-Joe Offer-


20 Sep 02 - 04:57 PM (#788301)
Subject: RE: Hal Far Biss - WWII Song
From: GUEST,martin powell

suggest you try Cyril Tawney - he has collected a lot of naval songs of Malta, he might have an idea


01 Dec 18 - 10:40 PM (#3964243)
Subject: RE: Origin: Hal Far Biss - WWII Song
From: Lighter

The song's precise origin remains a mystery, and Stracke's book may be the song's only appearance in print.

According to the Times of Jan. 17, 1923, the Royal Air Force airdrome at Hal Far was opened on Jan. 16, 1923. It soon also became a shore base for the Fleet Air Arm.

"Biss" is Maltese for "only." The title means "Hal Far Alone." "Hal Far Biss" is not a place name.

George VI awarded the George Cross to the "Island Fortress of Malta" on April 15, 1942. The song was presumably written shortly afterward.