A Ballad of the Fleet
(Tune: "The Midshipmite")

Twas in ‘sixty-five on a summer’s day,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho),
We’d left the pier and were under way
Round toe of the "Boot",bound for Naples Bay,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho).

With an "Oogah!" "Oogah!" to clear the bridge,
We fight our battles below,
For the submarine is a threat unseen,
Sing "Cheerily, lads, yo-ho!"

The sea was calm and the sun was bright,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho),
When a stranger warship hove in sight,
With a look that said she wished to fight,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho).Chorus

Now here we sailed, all alone at sea,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho),
On a mission as peaceful as could be,
But the Roosky bristled with guns, did she,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho). Chorus

Coming up astern, with a bone in her teeth,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho),
We could not dive, to attack beneath,
She seemed to bear us a funeral wreath,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho).Chorus

We were bound by the sacred nautical Rules,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho),
To hold our course, like a pack of fools,
But the Roosky sailors they grinned like ghouls,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho).Chorus

She passed us close, on the starboard side,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho),
The margin only a whisker-wide,
Just daring and hoping that we’d collide,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho)Chorus

But our skipper, cool as a keg of beer, 
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho),
Neatly dodged, and repaid their sneer
With a thumb to the nose and one in the ear,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho).Chorus

Then away we sailed, never fired a shot,
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho),
But the Rooskies knew–and what fool did not,
We’d been ready to sink ‘em on the spot!
(Cheerily, my lads, yo-ho).Chorus

So the Cold War cooled, by a mere degree,
And we had the photos to show,
Being in the right, would have won that fight,
Sing "Cheerily, lads, yo-ho!"


* At certain times during the Cold War, Soviet naval vessels, especially in Mediterranean waters, deliberately steered dangerously close to U.S. warships, violating International Rules of the Road and risking collisions, which they would brazenly claim were the U.S. fault. But American captains refused to take the bait, and calmly avoided the hazard. The old song "The Midshipmite" dates from the Crimean War of 1855-56. This verse is based on a passage from my classmate Don Ulmer’s novel "Ensure Plausible Deniability."

Hear the tune:
Peter Dawson - The Midshipmite.mp3
Download at rapidlibrary mp3 music
Rapid Library Music

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