You are at : Home : Collection
The ditties within these pages, have exclusively been taken from 'voice' or 'autobiographical' sources, which relate to the Royal Navy. They provide a lasting heritage of ‘Jacks’ service at sea. Their content is a testimony to his humour, unique language and wit.
The primary collection was collected during the authors 28 years service, whilst the supplementary collection, or suporting material has been assembled from personal songbooks, manuscript sources but essentially from the direct contribution of those who served. All of the sources, notes and recordings are intended, when the project has been completed, to be deposited in the Royal Naval Museum.(This is identified in my Will) To date there are over 500 different items, but many of them exist onlty in brief fragments, or with considerable gaps. Your help is urgently needed to fill these voids.If you remember any song or PART of a song please get in contact.
Enquiries for particular unlisted items are also welcome, and we shall try to provide an answer. Please give as much information as may be possible, including where you remember hearing the item..
Criteria of Collection
The songs and ditties entered on these pages (Except Nelson Songs) - Have all been, in general circulation within the service
In the main they are identified as being
- Of the Navy
- For the Navy
- By the Navy
Adding to the collection
Readers are requested to submit to the editor, items that live in their memories but do not appear within these columns.We are interested in variations to existing songs. Fragments and stanzas of unlisted items.
Recordings on tape of even the most poorly sung pieces are doubly welcome so that the tunes as well as the words might be preserved for all time.
i.e. Sea Shanties etc. are not permissible unless the donor can demonstrate or state that they were used in an RN service context. - For the purpose’s of historical accuracy, will persons submitting material please include –
- The name and where possible the service number of the person sending the collected item, so that correct attribution and authentication might be made..
The occasion and date (period or year) when the item was performed or first/last heard
The ship or place.
Any anecdote relating to this occasion or ditty
Please note if you have a notebook or manuscript collection of ditty songs We would be pleased to receive a photocopy as evidence of a songs usage.
If readers can identify the original author of any of the ditties given here, would they please correspond with the editor.
The major exception to the Criteria - (In order to celebrate the bi centenary of Horatio Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar.) Is with the section on Nelson Songs. Here I have purposfully selected items found in Broadside, Slipsong and Folksong collections that are contempoary to the years, immediately following 'Our Nel's death, and which illustrate his career.
However generally there is very little evidence as to whether any of these Nelsonic songs ever found favour aboard one of HM Ships. Where this is known it has been so stated. Yet as Jack loved a good song and held Nelson in such high regard, it must be supposed that the majority of songs would at one point or another have been sung aboard a Royal Navy Man-O-War.