Annabelle Lee

     It may sound strange, but in the early days of WWII the U-Boats did occasionally allow the merchant crews to escape, particularly if they were sailing a traditional square-rig ship. And since torpedoes were expensive, and hoarded for use against more significant targets, the U-Boat’s deck-gun was occasionally used instead.
     The facts behind this story are true, related by a Nova Scotia skipper in his memoirs. (The love interest, well, he wouldn’t say exactly.) One thing’s for sure, survival literature points very clearly to the fact that a powerful will to survive is essential. Even very strong men will succumb if they have nothing on which to focus their endurance.

 

The Annabelle Lee               (90)            ©2002 Dave Hadfield                             

 

I was second mate in ’38 on the schooner Alice B.

We damn near sank on the Georges Bank in a dirty month at sea.

We’d just come down to Halifax Town all ready for a spree,

Before that treat I thought I’d eat, so I went into a Bakery.

 

There was icing- sugar, jam and cream; but the girl there looked like a sailor’s dream.

Eyes as blue as the deepest ocean sea,                                   [chorus]

I  shook my head I’d’ve never said, it would ever happen to me.

My way was set the day I met the lovely Annabelle Lee.

 

I’m not the kind to waste much time, I knew what I had to do,

But times were lean and I was clean of cash and prospects too.

So from that day I changed my way; no longer went on spree,

And all my pay got stashed away, or spent in the Bakery.

 

[chorus]

 

In ’39 I was doin’ fine, skipper of the Annabelle Lee;

A barquentine, tall and clean, the prettiest ship at sea.

When war broke out I had no doubt the Navy would call me,

But they said stay and earn your pay as skipper of the Annabelle Lee.

 

[Instr. Break]

 

One year on, a winter’s morn at dawn,

We were running north, hauling Cuban rum.

When close alongside, rose Hitler’s joy and pride:

A U-Boat, and on her deck a gun….

 

From overside came a voice, “Get in your boat; you have no choice.

We will let you live now boys, but we cannot linger.”

So my mates and I did go into our boat and then did row.

Our ship was sunk with guns and as they left I raised a finger.

 

For two whole weeks we drifted in the sea,

And the winter gales would try to strike us blind.

And one by one, my mates were overcome,

But I survived, a vision in my mind….

 

Of icing sugar, jam and cream; the girl was in my sailor’s dream,

Eyes as blue as the deepest ocean sea,

I would not rest, I fought my best against the raging sea,

I would not pass until that lass was mine, oh Annabelle Lee.

 

I was nearly gone when a rusty freighter wandered close,

And a dozen rough but gentle hands raised me from the boat.

Though I spent a month in bed, one morning did I see,

Before my eyes, to my surprise: the girl from the bakery.

 

And icing sugar, jam and cream, it seemed just like my sailor’s dream.

Eyes as blue as the deepest ocean sea,

I raised my head and what I said was “Will you marry me?”

She said yes and I was blessed with the lovely Annabelle Lee.

 

[repeat chorus, instrumental and end]

 

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