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BI Song, Verse & Worse

Ballad of the Bloody Ds
BI Anthem
BI Alphabet
The Doxford Song

The Crab that Played with the Sea
The Purser's Song
Ode to the Poop

To Bombay
All I ask is a fast ship...
Answer Me Geordie Cruik

Visit "Pugli Munshi Wallah's" collection of Hindustani rhymes

THE BALLAD OF THE BLOODY Ds - By Dr Malcolm Pereira
(originally Ballad of the Bloody Gulf)
Sung to the tune of
' Galway Bay'

1.If you ever sailed across the Sea to Basrah,
You'll say you've never seen the like before.
There's a land that's full of mystery and enchantment,
And all the sites you'll hate right to the core.
4. Hear that whistle blow, it means we've sighted Dubai;
A land of Scraggy Sheikhs and little else.
Then we weigh the anchor for the port of Bahrain,
Where we shop because it costs a little less.
2. Four days after leaving Bombay you arrive at,
A Port where Muscatis stink up the shore,
And you'll hate that god forsaken Port of Muscat,
Which will disgust you and you'll want to see not more.
5. On and on though all these wretched Gulf Ports;
Kuwait, Abadan and Khoramshahr you see;
Then at last you come to belly-dancing Basrah,
Where you find the cabarets are far from Free.
3. But the 'Ds' persist and then to Bunder Abbas,
Where greenery you'll have to strain to see;
Where the coolies there they have a flare for pinching,
Most anything, from Dates to Indian Tea.
6. So yee lads e you are contemplating,
On sailing on the Ds to Arab shore;
Where the summer dehydrates you like a sponge man,
And Winter is the bloody last thing of them all.

(Supplied by Chelston Chaves)


Sung to the tune of
'A Gordon for Me'

1. My name is McLean from the aud Ben Line
I'm fond of the lassies and a drap of fine wine
One day while out walking I happened ta see
A bonnie wee lass wi' a gleam in her eye.
I said to her lassie could we walk for a while
I'll wine you and dine you we'll do it in style
My name is Mclean of the aud Ben Line
She looked at me sadly and said "Och nein nein!"
2. I tried for a while this wee lass to beguile
With wining and dining and wooing in style.
I turned on my charm and my best winning ways
And with my fine stories this lass to amaze
Despite all my trying she wouldna say aye
But said to me sadly wi' that mist in her eye
"I like you right fine you're handsome wee boy
But you're nay fit for me for you are nay BI."
It's the BI for me, the BI for me
If you are nay BI then your nay use ta me.
The Ben Line is braw and the Clan Line an' aw
But those lads in the BI are the pride of them aw.
Chorus (twice)!

(Supplied by George Ball)



A for the answer we get by return
when applying for work with the good old firm;
They give us ten pounds that they know we shall earn
In the good old British India.

B for the bicycles carried on board
By officers serving the Company abroad
They call us "the cycling sailors", good Lord,
In the good old British India.

C for the Coast - most delightful of spots;
Of society and pleasure and joy we have lots;
And it's only a rumour one's soul simply rots
In the good old British India.

D for the dirt - it's the natives' delight
To wallow in filth by day and by night,
And to dirty the paint we try to keep white
In the good old British India.

E for the energy shown by the crew
In dodging the work that you've set them to do
But damn it, they earn their munificient screw
In the good old British India.

F for the family we all must beware
Match-making mammas with daughters so fair
You hardly would notice the tar-brush is there
In the good old British India.

G for the gharri, that four-wheeled abortion
That joggles our limbs into palsied contortion;
We arrive at the Club in a state of exhaustion
In the good old British India.

H is for heat, and for Hell, as you know;
That word, and Bombay, are synonymous, so
It's surely no wonder the naughty words flow
In the good old British India.

I for the insects we get on the Coast
Mosquitoes and cockroaches come in their host
And we swallow red ants as we're drinking a toast
To the good old British India.

J is for "juldi", a word much in use
To encourage the native to be less obtuse;
But it's generally followed by lots of abuse
In the good old British India.

K is for khaki some officers wear;
Short trousers and stockings a la militaire;
The sea-going cavalry taking the air
In the good old British India.

L is for leave which keeps hope in the breast,
But is often delayed at the Company's behest
But we get it when bound for the Isles of the Blest
In the good old British India.

M is for marriage; it seems quite a craze
To get tangled up in the hymeneal maze
And to live to regret it before many days
In the good old British India.

N is for night-work, to Second Mates dear
If it were abolished they'd shed bitter tear;
It keeps them quite healthy and full of good cheer
In the good old British India.

0 is for Office, the pride of Bombay,
Where Mackinnon Mackenzie are holding their sway
And filling the coffers with gold, so they say
In the good old British India.

P for the palms that wave on the shore
And look so enticing, but what we abhor
Are the human palms outstretched galore
In the good old British India

Q is the quiet that always prevails
When coolies are working our cargo and mails
And Mistris are spoiling the brightwork with nails
In the good old British India.

R are the rupees we earn out here;
They're worth one-and-sixpence apiece, so we hear,
But it seems everything is most damnably dear
In the good old British India.

S stands for Sukunnies, who steer the ship
A la Columbus, the whole of the trip
And whom we must never at any time clip
In the good old British India.

T is the tailor who makes us our clothes
(always different cloth from the one that we chose);
And he says to his cutter "The sahib never knows!"
In the good old British India.

U is the uniform, vastly absurd
There's naught to distinguish the 2nd from the 3rd;
And the Chief wears a lop-sided stripe - in a word
It's the good old British India.

V is the voice of the Indian crow
That croaks in the rigging so sweet and so low
Till a large chunk of coal from the deck makes him go
In the good old British India.

W for work, the Chief Officer's bane
And also for whiskey, that fuddles the brain,
And accounts for the lot of us being insane
In the good old British India.

X is no good, but will do for 'explain'.
All the chits from the Office begin in this vein;
But we tear them in two with the utmost disdain
In the good old British India.

Y are the youths who are serving their time
In the Company's Home and Colonial Line;
We hope when they're. finished, as sailors they'll shine;
But not the good old British India.

Z is the zeal we always display
When serving the interest of MM, Bombay;
We hope they'll remember to double our pay
And we'll cheer for the British India.

(With acknowledgements to Wavelength magazine)


Sung to the tune of
'MacNamara's Band'

In the chorus, place two clenched fists in front of the face, vertically one above the other, and at the words Chuff! Chuff! puff them apart to imitate an opposed piston action.
At a 'ships party' six females (or anyone) would be numbered 1 to 6 and during the chorus, with hands on heads with elbows sticking out (to immitate the Doxford piston's transverse beam), the "conductor" would get them to bob up and down in the firing order that he called, to replicate the action of the engine!

1. Oh my name is William Doxford and I come from Sunder-land
They say my diesel engine is the finest in the land
The pistons bang, the cranks go clang and the camshaft grinds away
And it's the bestest engine you could hear about today

Dah dah dah dah Chuff! Chuff! Dah dah dah dah Chuff! Chuff!
Dah dah dah dah Chuff! Chuff! Dah dah dah dah.
Dah dah dah dah Chuff! Chuff! Dah Dah Dah - Dah
With action and reaction we'll go sailing on our way.

2. To see our engines functionals we open up a door
We find more cranks and crossheads than we've ever seen before
And then we pull the pistons out to calibrate the bore
And here for us to work on there are piston rings galore

Dah dah dah Chuff! Chuff! etc.

3. We calculate the horsepower by scientific means
With bits of string and paper wound on little round machines
We measure round the diagrams the power it should tell
The outcome's automatic but the engine's aw' ta hell

Dah dah dah etc.

(When the song has finished the ladies, exhausted, fall giggling to the floor - and then it's every man for himself!)

(Supplied by George Ball)



CHINA-GOING P's and 0's
Pass Pau Amma's playground close,
And his Pusat Tasek lies
Near the track of most BI's.
Know Pau Amma's home as well
As the fisher of the Sea knows
'Bens,' MM's, and Rubattinos.
But (and this is rather queer)
ATL's can not come here;
O and O and DOA
Must go round another way.
Orient, Anchor, Bibby, Hall,
Never go that way at all.
UCS would have a fit
If it found itself on it.
And if 'Beavers' took their cargoes
To Penang instead of Lagos,
Or a fat Shaw-Savill bore
Passengers to Singapore,
Or a White Star were to try a
Little trip to Sourabaya,
Or a BSA went on
Past Natal to Cheribon,
Then great Mr. Lloyds would come
With a wire and drag them home!

You'll know what my riddle means
When you've eaten mangosteens.



ALL I ASK IS A FAST SHIP... by Mike Davison

I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a fast ship and a company like BI,
With two white bands and an Indian crew on a regular run to Bombay,
Or two and half years on the Indian coast and twenty per cent more pay.


Sung to the tune of
Johnny Ray's 'Answer Me'

1. Answer me Geordie Cruik
Is my name down in the 'Shiftee Book'?
Ask the Babu "Have another Look,"
Oh shift me please George Cruik.
3. Though you don't know much about me,
I know you're aware,
There's an 'Aussie "C" that needs me,
So why not shift me there?
2. You must know that I try
But I'm not the Seconds' blue eyed boy;
All my efforts seem to make him cry,
So help him please George Cruik.
4. I was here yesterday.
Now I get down on my knees and pray
That you'll really try to find a way
To shift me please George Cruik.

(Supplied by George Ball)

(George Cruikshank was the 'ek-number' engineer superintendent in Calcutta around the fifties. He controlled your destiny. It was rumoured that the babu kept a "Shiftee Book" and was said to be the power behind the throne. On the Bombay side, a vessel on arrival was met by the Mac & Mic launch and by the bokkus wallah Mr Malik. The bokkus wallah spread a little bakshees around the office and had all the latest information on the ships' staff and staff movements, which he imparted in a loud voice from his launch...even before the Old Man got the news.)


(Song borrowed from the Indian Army and altered slightly)

For these long years you've shared my daughter;
Now your'e off across the pani, sahib
Hope the ship that takes you homeward sinks beneath the pani, sahib.
Oh you BI sahib! Oh you BI sahib.
Tora mochin, tora dhout, Bombay biwi is no good,
Tora chini, tora char, Calcutta biwi bot achha.

(Supplied by George Ball)



1. Farewell Dunera,
Captain and staff and crew,
The thousands of children you've carried
Wish "all the best" to you.
When your bones are lying dismembered
In a far-distant breaker's yard
Your glory will be remembered
With many a fond regard.
3. Farewell Dunera;
Your end is drawing nigh,
But in the hearts of thousands
You can never die;
Ship of high endeavour,
We'll carry your message still,
With joy and hope for ever
The message of world goodwill.
2. Whatever the wind or weather,
Whatever the storm or tide,
You've brought us all together
With nations far and wide.
Beneath the old "Red Duster",
In ports of every sea,
You've called us all to muster
A world in unity.
4. Soon, soon, Dunera,
You can sleep and face the west,
In the heaven that good ships go to
Your spirit can take her rest.
And often as you're sleeping,
This song will be surely sung;
Fare you well, Dunera,
From all of us, old and young.

(Supplied by Jean Goodwin)


Sung to "Erie," the tune of
'When This Bloody War is Over'

1. When this bloody spell is over
Oh how happy I will be
When I'm on that jehaz to Blighty
No more Indian Coast for me
No more dhobi itch and heat rash
When this spell's ek dum kalass
You can tell Sir William Currie
To shove the BI up his...

"Jesus wants me for a sunbeam
and a bloody fine sunbeam am I."

2. When this spell is really over
And those BI days are gone
No more nights on 'rat ka purri'
No more swings off Chittagong
No more "Stand bys" in the Hooghli
No more shut downs in Madras
You can tell the great Lord Inchcape
To stick the BI up his...

Gaudeamus igatur, there's a cockroach in my beer
Gaudeamus igatur, there's a green fly in my ear
Post jucundum carborundum
Post molectum burning rectum
Nos habemus Hindustan
Nos habemus Hindustan

(Supplied by George Ball)



1. Yes, that is the Purser - with lots of gold lace
And nothing whatever to do;
A jovial fellow with quite a nice face,
And matters immensely to you;
For he is the one who is really to blame
For whatever annoys you at sea,
But the joy of his life is to reedy same
And he will for a moderate fee.

2. So go to the Purser and slip him a tip;
His temper is terser with every trip,
But bang on his door, that's what he is for,
And say what you think of his horrible ship,
And if there is nothing to make you profane
Invent an excuse, if its only the rain;
The man isn't happy unless you complain
So go to the Purser.

3. The moment the liner is clear of the wharf
Proceed to the Bureau and say;
"My cabin would be a small size for a dwarf,
You cannot expect me to pay!
I would not confine a white rabbit of mine
To a prison so meagre in plan.
I am told that they snore in the cabin next door
And something is wrong with the fan"

4. Go to the Purser and be impolite;
Call at the Bureau from morning till night;
Tackle the chap while he's having his nap
The Purser is wrong and the Passenger's right.
Make it quite clear that you are not a mole
And cannot exist without air in a hole
Add, by the way that the ship musn't roll
That's the fault of the Purser

5. As the voyage proceeds you may find that your
Take even more time to explain;
The food as a rule is the work of a fool;
It is foggy again and again.
The sailors will trek overhead on the deck
Just as sleep is approaching your eyes;
Your boy is too fond of that staggering blond
And what does the Purser advise?

6. Go to the Purser and give him some lip
After all you have paid for this odious trip.
And you never allowed
For a positive crowd
Of Parisian vamps in this part of the ship.
A man at your table's unpleasant to see,
So either you go to another or he;
And why is fresh milk not provided at sea?
Inquire of the Purser.

7. And don't hesitate to pop in and relate
Any personal matters you can;
Describe all the rows you have had with your
And ask him to speak to the man
If your daughters insist on staying up late,
If your husband will love you no more,
If you cannot digest or are putting on weight
Well, that's what the Purser is for.

8. Go to the Purser and sing him this song -
The Passenge's right and the Purser is wrong
And alone of the crew he has nothing to do
But listen to nice little speaches from you.
The Captain has only the Ocean to fear;
The furnace is fun to the Chief Engineer;
But the Purser has people to manage, poor dear -

(Supplied by David Cash)

TAE A GROUSE - by Snrub (John Robertson)
With sincere apologies to the Scottish bard, Rabbie Burns.

Oh wad some po'er the Giftie tell us
Tae get our wine bills like ither fellas
And nae brocht 'roon wae that deil McCrindle
Who tak's sich pleasure in seein' them dwindle
But, blundering, blustering lump o' man
There's unco harm in your drouthy plan
For next tae a lassie a man's best pleasure
Is tae sit with an ale the hours tae leisure
But ye maun mak' wae your bickering and prattle
And parch our throats 'till they maun rattle
Wee boys, instead of men you'd think
Who should not be permitted tae touch a drink
Jim, given a chance - aye, and we are able
Tae drink you underneath the table!!!
And tae see you run wae ilka tale
And tae the Chief our sins bewail
Aye, right enough they might be true
But Jim, it is not a thing that you should do!!

Written on board Uganda in 1960 and dedicated to Jim McCrindle 2/E/ whom no offence intended


- by an unknown author

1. Oh hasten my friends, for a BI steamer's arriving
And with her the chance of some buckshee imbibing,
Let us laud from the quay her official elite
As they strut on the deck with oversize feet.
Observe the Commander with pristine white suit
At the end of a fourteen inch he-man cheroot.
And the elegant Third
Busy ogling a bird
The Cadet noting down every action and word,
While the dashing Fourth Mate you will readily own
Cuts a right noble figure while working the phone.

2. Observe on the fo'c'sle in right regal state
And dazzling apparel the honoured Chief Mate.
His crew all-attentive in eye straining white
Are proud to obey such a man of great might.
His Cadet standing by
With a bright beady eye
To please him would doubtless be ready to die
The Chippy who stands at his brakes on tiptoe
The dark visaged men in the lockers below
In fact every man-jack , I think you'll agree
Is a credit indeed to this great Company


3. Now hasten for the gangway is already lowered
And 'tis well to be foremost among those on board
The ale that awaits us will go in a trice
Before reinforcements can cool on the ice.
Let us make no delay
For they truthfully say
That the swift win the race and the strong win the fray,
But before we press on to partake of the cheer
Prepared by the Purser and Chief Engineer
I prithee one moment your proud glance to stoop
And regard with compassion the men on the poop.

4. Observe how the Second Mate lacks all serenity
As he strives to make fast that unwholesome extremity
With an air of dejection so utterly final
His nose but a yard from the firemen's urinal.
The execrable stench
From the Bhandary's bench
Would cause the most stalwart of heroes to blench.
His crew look all doleful and sullen and grim
As they peer forth from cavities so dark and so dim
And a definite aura of baffled frustration
Hangs around every man as he stands at his station.


5. Oh up on the bridge, how the chortle with glee
As they think of the poop with its fish heads and ghee,
Where the garlic has drifted like snow in the scupper
Midst the week old remains of the Deck Serangs supper,
Where the expectorations
Of all Eastern Nations
Have gathered for what would appear generations.
The sun deck that wards off the pure solar rays
Denying access to the clean light of day.

6. Purgatorial poop, with selections of pains
Devised by a sadists demoniac brain.
Beware as you move lest your clothing you soil
For some fiend has coated the the rails with fuel oil
And the leads are designed
By a tyro whose mind
Would have been of most use if he'd left it behind.
To hurry is fatal, you'll find if you try
As your feet from beneath you will certainly fly
As you slide on the deck impregnated with butter
To end in an undignified heap in the gutter.


7. When the pungent aromas of bad sanitation
Have conspired to produce a complete desperation
The industrious Topass, in manner so neat,
Spills a quart of carbolic all over your feet,
And splashes the rest
With commendable zest
Wherever he thinks the effect will be best;
But although for the moment he masks the condition
Of fish in advanced states of decomposition
'Tis but a brief measure of passing respite
As the odours creep back just like thieves in the night.

8. The telephone stands on the sun deck above
A position for which the Cadet has no love
In solitude left to commune with his soul
Amid derelict stages and spare galley coal,
But although blinded with dust and chippings of rust
He never deserts his position of thrust
Each order received he repeats thro' clenched teeth
Through a hole in the deck to the Second beneath
While that worthy develops a neck like a gander
Popping up thro his hatch like a U Boat Commander.


9. Oh the springs neath the horsebox and hopelessly stuck
We've bust two chain stoppers; beheaded a duck
The Tindal with strong language; may Allah forgive him
Sorts out the big wire from the Ag Wallah's tiffin.
Though we're in a tight pinch
Yet we wont move an inch
Till the Cassabs brown hen is removed from the winch;
And although on the bridge they must ardently yearn
To give the propellers just one little turn
Yet they must put the curb to impatience we fear
For we'll save all the livestock ere we say "all clear".

10. Ay! Bowse her in for'ard as hard as a rock
Ay! Leave the stern sticking way over the dock!
And when for a little slack forward we pray
Just telephone aft the curt words "heave away"
Oh! The men are past caring
The Tindal's despairing
The Second has taken to bi-lingual swearing,
But an inch at a time she is coming a little
Doubtless due to the ship being bent in the middle,
And as long as the crew are not taken away
To turn out the gangway---We'll get fast today!!!

(Supplied by Richard Crow, who says this was circulated in Calcutta in the 1930s. "I do not know how [the verses] would relate to a modern 2nd Mate but I can assure you from personal experience that they were still very relevant in the 1940s.")


MOMBASA BOUND - by Padre Claxton

1. When we sailed from Southampton
We were quiet and subdued
But after a day and a half in the bay
We discovered another mood

Oh the good ship Dunera
Which brings Mombassa nearer

2. We shot Gibraltar, horrified Malta 
Made the Cypriots feel even queerer
And armed with a spade a bucket made
a wonderful attack on Aden

Oh the good ship Dunera
Which brings Mombassa nearer

3. When we sailed down the Persian Gulf
Which we entered after dark
We shed some tears for the Fusiliers
When we saw them disembark
When the Cameronians left Bahrain
Singing "Can we no go back again"
Whilst the Captain and crew
And the passengers too
And even the stewardesses too
Take a serious view we fear its true
Of the herram and the scarrem of the things we do

Oh the good ship Dunera
Which brings Mombassa nearer

(Contributed by Katrina Smith (nee Butcher), who says this was composed by Padre Claxton during a trooping run in Dunera to Mombasa, leaving UK around April 1957 or possibly 1958. "I was only young...Padre Claxton wrote the song for the show the children put on for the adults on arriving at Mombasa.)


TO BOMBAY - By Douglas Boyd

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)


Verse with no name- Anon

There's a horrid BI ship to the north in Chittagong
And another one in Chalna further down
Where a dewy eyed young pancher thinks of all the folks at home
And the booze ups going on in Glasgow town.
So we'll drink a toast to "Chilka"
May her liners never wear
May that boiler oil abortion never sink
But if she has to sail the sea
She can sail it without me
I'll be sitting in the "Roundhouse"

JACK & JILL - Anon

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of pani;
Jill came down with half-a-crown and Jack felt kutch pa wani.


I love a lassie,
A Bonnie black Madrassi.
She's as black as the very hobbs of hell.
She cleans her teeth with charcoal,
And sarf keros her ********
With tora tunda pani from the well.

(Three contributed by George Taylor, ex Pemba, Amra, Chanda, Santhia, Chakdina, Bulimba)


To the optimist, the glass is half full.
To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
To the BI engineer, the glass is only half as big as it needs to be
..... and it's bloody near empty. "BOY".

(Contributed by George Taylor)


THE WRECK OF THE ROHILLA - By Heather Sheldrick

1. A stormy night in Whitby Bay
A biting north east wind and swirling rain
A coastguard shelters from the storm
And keeps a watch in the darkness before dawn
Then through the wind and waves he hears a sickening sound
And his blood runs cold – a ship has run aground

So come on bonny lads, we can’t let ’em down
We’ve got to pull them from the wreck of the Rohilla

2. But the tide is high and she's rammed into The Scar
And if we launch our lifeboat now, it won't get far.

This war will end all wars, or so they say
But fighting men will still be killed or maimed For this hospital ship the crew all volunteered
So from Leith to Dunkirk the Rohilla steered
But with no guiding lights the ship is way off course
And she's hit the rocks with a terrible force


3. But the rocket lines we fired are falling short
Yeah, the rescue lines on jagged rocks are caught.

As she hits the rock, the hull is broke in two
And the end comes quickly for many of the crew
Some brave souls they try to swim ashore
We see them struggle and then we see them no more
But the wreck is just 600 yards away
Surely we can save them before break of day


4. But the Rohilla’s lifeboats have all been swept away
And all we can do is watch and pray.

Fifteen lads from a cotton weaving town
Were called up to serve their country and their crown
Some people said those lads would have it good
They’d never face the trenches, the bullets or mud
Oh what an easy way to spend this bloody war!
No one could have guessed what lay in store


5. Tell their folks in Barlick we’ll do our best
But to God and fate we’ll have to leave the rest.

William Anderson, Harry Barter, Milton Birtwistle
William Daley, Frank Dunkley, Buck Eastwood
Albert Elsworth, Harry Hodgkinson,
Thomas Horsfield, Walter Horsfield
Arthur Petty and his brother Thomas Petty
John Pickles, Fred Reddiough, Anthony Waterworth

I saw a new heaven and earth
And there was no more sea



(In the early days of the First World War, several young men from Barnoldswick on the Yorkshire/Lancashire border were called up as medical orderlies on the steamship Rohilla. As the ship made its way towards France there was a violent storm and it ran aground at Whitby. Although only yards from shore, the difficult conditions made the rescue attempt almost impossible, and many lives were lost. See the Rohilla page - HS)


Have you seen the surging Hooghly flowing swiftly to the sea?
Just an offspring of the Ganges, from its mother does it flee.
Through those muddy milling waters many BI ships have sped
Riding a six knot current with engines full ahead;
To Calcutta their objective, will the power stand the test?
Yes the BI engineers will do their very best

(Contributed by Alan Faragher who says this verse was recited by engineer officers in BI at least as early as the 1950s)

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