DESCRIPTION: "The boys out in the trenches have got a lot to say Of the hardships and the sorrows... But we destroyer sailors would like their company On a couple of trips...." The sailors describe life on their small, uncomfortable ships that never cease rolling
EARLIEST DATE: 1929 (Niles/Moore; supposedly sung 1917-1919)
KEYWORDS: ship navy
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Niles/Moore, pp. 86-91, "Destroyer Life" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 514-517, "Destroyer Life" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES [138 words]: This song, with its references to submarine warfare, clearly comes out of World War I. At that time, the destroyer was the smallest naval ship that could possibly be called ocean-going (a typical destroyer of the time was about 300 feet long and had a displacement on the order of a thousand tons. It has nothing in common, except the name, with the much heavier modern destroyers).
The worst thing about destroyers was their long, narrow, low hulls -- what the song calls "skinny ship." In bad seas, the waves could wash the entire deck, and waves could roll the ships through angles of 45 degrees or more. Crew quarters, moreover, were small and cramped. Only submarines had less space, and not even submarines were as subject to wind and wave. Hence the song's comment that "The God-damned ships were never meant for sea." - RBW
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