Mudcat Café message #2127105 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #104095   Message #2127105
Posted By: Jhim
16-Aug-07 - 12:01 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: The Shores of Normandy (Jim Radford)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE SHORES OF NORMANDY (Jim Radford)
(Jim Radford)

In the cold grey light of the sixth of June, in the year of forty-four,
The Empire Larch sailed out from Poole to join with thousands more.
The largest fleet the world had seen, we sailed in close array,
And we set our course for Normandy at the dawning of the day.

There was not one man in all our crew but knew what lay in store,
For we had waited for that day through five long years of war.
We knew that many would not return, yet all our hearts were true,
For we were bound for Normandy, where we had a job to do.

Now the Empire Larch was a deep-sea tug with a crew of thirty-three,
And I was just the galley-boy on my first trip to sea.
I little thought when I left home of the dreadful sights I'd see,
But I came to manhood on the day that I first saw Normandy.

At the Beach of Gold off Arromanches, 'neath the rockets' deadly glare,
We towed our blockships into place and we built a harbour there.
'Mid shot and shell we built it well, as history does agree,
While brave men died in the swirling tide on the shores of Normandy.

Like the Rodney and the Nelson, there were ships of great renown,
But rescue tugs all did their share as many a ship went down.
We ran our pontoons to the shore within the Mulberry's lee,
And we made safe berth for the tanks and guns that would set all Europe free.

For every hero's name that's known, a thousand died as well.
On stakes and wire their bodies hung, rocked in the ocean swell;
And many a mother wept that day for the sons they loved so well,
Men who cracked a joke and cadged a smoke as they stormed the gates of hell.

As the years pass by, I can still recall the men I saw that day
Who died upon that blood-soaked sand where now sweet children play;
And those of you who were unborn, who've lived in liberty,
Remember those who made it so on the shores of Normandy.


This is an original folk-song written around the time of the fiftieth anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944. It is an account of the author's experience as a fifteen-year-old galley-boy on one of the Deep-Sea tugs that built the breakwater and the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches (Gold Beach). The lyrics are original but the tune is Raglan Road (The Dawning of the Day). It was recorded by the late Rod Shearman on his album "Off to sea again" ( and also appears on a CD produced by the St Johns' (School) History Society and the Normandy Veterans Association. It is regularly performed in Folk Clubs and Maritime music festivals in the UK and won the 2007 Scarborough SeaFest "Song for the Sea" competition.

There are no copyright objections to reproduction of the lyrics for non-commercial purposes.