The Norfeld And The Raleigh (George Williams)
(The Nordfeld And The Raleigh)

Come all ye noble fishermen
and listen to what I say,
'Tis about the steamer Norfeld,
with coal she was on her way;
'Twas near about Belle Isle
when the Captain sot his course;
He thought to clear all points of land,
'twas on the rocks he forced.

He put her ashore on Flower's Ledge
at four in the afternoon,
He put her ashore on flower's Ledge,
she was in her full bloom;
It must have been a dreadful day,
for the seas were making high,
To put her ashore here in the Straits
to let her live or die.

'Twas early the next morning
the people went on board,
To take the Captain and his crew,
find places for to board;
But when the Captain came on shore
he got four men to go,
To take care of the Norfeld's store,
where nothing would be stole.

'Twas early the next morning
the Captain went on board,
His ship was stripped from end to end,
and nothing left in store;
It must have been a blessing
for ships to go ashore,
One of our British battleships
is ashore on Point Amour.

But if the Captain chanced to come
he would not know his ship,
The coal would soon be taken out -
with holes chopped in her deck;
To keep the men from hauling wood,
and the devil from the door,
You'd need the British Army
and the Navy's Man O' War.

The Norfeld and the Raleigh
are about nine miles apart,
If we were on the Labrador,
I guess we'd get our part;
And now my song is ended,
I have no more to say,
Because I am so tired,
for my bunk I am on my way.

####.... George Williams [1919-1982] of Current Island, St Barbe, NL ....####
The above variant was collected by Omar Blondahl in his compilation: Newfoundlanders Sing: A Collection Of Favourite Newfoundland Folk Songs, Published in 1964 for Robin Hood Flour Mills by E J Bonnell Associates.

See more songs by Omar Blondahl.

A variant with one missing line was collected in 1929 as The Nordfeld And The Raleigh from Ellen F White [1901-1965] of Sandy Cove, St Barbe, NL, and published as #142 on page 288 of Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland, by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, PA, 1968).

A variant with three missing lines was published as The Nordfeld And The Raleigh on p.47 of Old Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland: Songs Of The People From The Days Of Our Forefathers, 2nd Ed, 1940, printed by the publishers of The Family Fireside for Gerald S Doyle, St John's.

Partly excerpted from Richard Rohmer. Raleigh On The Rocks: The Canada Shipwreck Of HMS Raleigh, A critique by Marc Milner, University of New Brunswick:
HMS Raleigh - on 8 August 1922, just three years after her launching, the new Cavendish class light cruiser HMS Raleigh, Britain's flagship of the North Atlantic and West India Squadron, drove aground on the rocks below the Amour Point lighthouse on the Labrador coast. She was on a tour of the United States and Canada, en route through the Strait of Belle Isle to Forteau Bay, where the officers were planning to do some good salmon fishing, and making 12 knots in fog and rain squalls, with a strong wind from the south west. By the time breaking surf was spotted from the bridge it was too late, and Raleigh plowed her way onto the reef. No amount of reversing of engines and winching on cables and anchors would free her. Meanwhile the sea worked the hull against the bottom, grinding her ever tighter into the rock. Soon Raleigh was a total loss. And almost as quickly her cutlery, crockery, china, and furnishings graced homes from Blanc Sablon to Nain, as Raleigh herself entered into the folklore of the Labrador. The ship lay upright near shore for four years, after which the British Admiralty ordered an explosives team to demolish her. A marked hiking trail at Point Amour leads to scattered rusting fragments that still litter the beach.

GEST notes that the word 'sot' appears several times in the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English, usually within quotations which serve as examples of usage for defined words. The word itself is obscurely defined on page two of the Introduction to the Dictionary. It is used in this song is the past tense of the verb 'set' spoken with a Newfoundland dialect.

See more songs about NL shipwrecks.


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