The Red Rocks Of Bell Isle (Lehr and Best)

On the deck of a recruiting ship
a young man he did stand,
His thoughts were of his friends
at home in dear ol' Newfoundland;
But as he gazed his thoughts went back
to his home that's many a mile
To his homestead of Wabana
on the red rocks of Bell Isle.

He fancied he stood on the ramp
going down to shovel ore,
And loaded his twenty carriages
as he oft-times done before.
In the evening when his work was done
he'd go home with a heavy sigh -
He'd go and see his own sweetheart
whom he thought would be his bride.

He dreamt he stood with her
and gazed as the stars shone overhead -
The moon it rose above the hill
and it shone that night so red.
It was little did he ever think
of the danger over there -
He was a Newfoundlander
and I'm sure he knew no fear.

Then one night over on the front
when a cry to arms did sound,
Among those gallant hero boys
this Bell Isle man was found;
He was wounded in the battle
but he still kept fighting on -
The Germans were defeated
and back home they had to run.

His comrades carried him back to camp
and laid him down to die -
One man knelt down beside him
with a tear all in his eye
Saying: "Will you take this message
back to my home that's many a mile,
To my homestead of Wabana
on the red rocks of Bell Isle.

"Tell my mother not to weep for me,
tell my sister not to grieve,
For I fought and struggled to the end
and I fought it mighty brave.
Tell my mother not to weep for me
or sigh with a drooping head,
For her son he was a soldier
and among many, a gallant man."

There's another not his sister
in those happy days gone by -
You would know her on a gloomy night
by the sparkle on her eye.
"You tell her I sent her all my love
and to her I said good-bye;
Her true love was a soldier
and for England he did die.

"Now, comrades, I am dying,
come ye say for me a prayer -
And before this battle it is won
with you you'll hear me cheer.
And when this battle it is won,
I would like for you to sing:
It's down with Adolph Hitler,
God save our gracious King!"

####.... Author unknown ....####
Collected in 1979 by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best from Phillip Pius Power, Sr [1914-1980] of South East Bight, NL, and published as #93 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.161-162, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press ©1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that the mining operation referred to in this song was begun on Bell Isle in 1895 by Dosco Mining Company of Nova Scotia. Wabana, a Micmac Indian word meaning 'furthest east', is the name the company gave to the town because it was their most easterly mining operation at that time. The mine closed in 1966. Lehr further noted that the song refers to WW II, though it could have been written sometime after. It is similar in content to The Valley Of Kilbride and Bengin On The Rhine - song moulds, Lehr concluded, are commonly used in many ballad-making traditions.

See more Lehr and Best songs.

From William Coveduck's Families Of Newfoundland:
Wabana - from the Abnaki words wabunaki (eastland) and waban (the dawn) meaning 'morning land', or the place where the sun first rises - the name Thomas Cantley of the New Glasgow company christened the Bell Isle mine site in 1895; used in reference to Dominion Wabana Ore Limited, a subsidiary of Hawker Siddeley Canada Ltd.

See more NL mines and mining songs.


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