Wednesday, 22 September 2010

'The Heights of Alma'

We can't let our friends refight the Alma without a song to sing - so here goes one. There's musical annotation and slightly different lyrics here. Interesting to note Scottish folk-rocker Donovan has done a version of this.

The Heights Of Alma (Collected by Kenneth Peacock)

It was on September the fourteenth day
Beneath the salt sea's dashing spray
We landed safe on the 'Crimay'
Bound for the heights of Alma.

That night we lay on the cold damp ground,
No tents, no shelter could be found,
With rain we were oh nearly drowned,
Bound for the heights of Alma.

Next morn the burning sun did rise
Beneath the cloudless eastern skies,
Our gallant chief, Lord Raglan, cries,
"Prepare, my boys, for Alma!"

When Alma's heights we have in view,
The stoutest heart it would subdue
To see that mighty Russian crew
Stood on the heights of Alma.

Their bullets fell as thick as rain
As we their battery tried to gain,
And many's a hero then got slain
All on the heights of Alma.

When the Thirty-third of the Fusiliers
They gained the heights and gave three cheers,
Their ringing voices fret our ears,
Our island lads on Alma.

Our island lads with kilt and hose,
They were not less, you may suppose,
But boldly faced those Russian foes,
And victory gained on Alma.

When Alma's heights we did command
We fought those Russians hand-to-hand,
And soon we brought them to a stand
All on the heights of Alma.

To Sebastopol those troops are gone,
And news we'll hear before 'tis long,
And if their power was twice as strong,
We would have revenge on Alma.

To Sebastopol those Russians fled,
Leaving their wounded and their dead,
And rivers that day ran crimson red
With blood was spilled on Alma.

Their guns and knapsacks they threw down,
And ran like hares before the hounds,
All hell about us did resound
Of victory gained on Alma.

There's manys a pretty girl will mourn
For a lover that will never return,
Which cruel wars have from them torn,
And their bodies lie on Alma.

From sisters' eyes the tears will roll,
And none the widows will console,
And mothers will mourn beyond control
For the sons they lost on Alma.

Eight hundred Britons I heard say
Fell dead upon that fatal day,
While thirty thousand the Russians lay
All in their graves on Alma.

####.... Variant of a British broadside ballad, possibly authored by James Maxwell, The Battle Of Alma [Laws J10] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G. Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a British broadside ballad, The Battle Of Alma, published in the 19th century by James Lindsay and archived in the Murray Collection of the Glasgow Broadside Ballads, manuscript number: Mu23-y1116 ....####

Collected in 1952 from Gordon Willis [1911-2001] of St. John's, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.1000-1001, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. some recorded versions of this song on Deezer ( ) , the last one particulary interesting (O J Abott) with differents lyrics...

    by the way I have a song about "Balaclava" on an old tape from "past times " do you know it ?