Through the Galleyboy’s Eyes                 W F Sowerby

I’m a galleyboy and I’m only fourteen,
And I work on the trawlers in a twenty-man team;
Our skipper is God, we obey his command,
And we work in all weather for the catch that we land.

Fourth week in January, fifty-five was the date;
To the fishing grounds went trawlers, crews, skippers and mates;
Out to the North Sea past Grimsby and Spurn,
But Lorella and Roderigo did not return.

All hands were lost, there were forty in all,
But we still go to sea to follow our call;
Tragedy happens, it’s a hazardous life,
But when the sea’s in your blood there’s a measure of strife.

Same week in January, thirteen years along,
The fleet were off Iceland in a howling maelstrom;
With hundred foot waves and thick ice on the mast,
Three trawlers turned over, to the sea they were cast.

Fifty-nine men went down, one managed to survive;
He was washed up on Iceland more dead than alive,
And he swore he’d never return to the sea,
But he’s back here fishing, alongside of me.

Big Lil led the women campaigning for changes,
But the men weren’t so keen though they knew the dangers;
So they tried stopping trawlers as they came in the lock;
“Take a radio operator or stay in Fish Dock!”

The Government set up a Commission to review
The event, the cause and what they could do:
There’s reluctant agreement that changes must come;
Now a mother ship, the Orsino, tells us when to run.

Cod wars and Europe combined to ensure
That trawlers and fishing from Hull was no more;
Boats decommissioned, the owners well paid;
No redundancy for trawlermen, it’s a casual trade.

The fish that you eat for your supper tonight,
I want you to think as you take every bite,
That fish you are eating has come from the sea,
But it’s those trawlermen’s lives sold on the fish quay.