The Newfoundland Disaster – Osborne



We often read of heroes bold and noble deeds they done,
Some on the field of battle Victoria Crosses won,
The British tars and officers who walked the quarter-deck
Oft la’nched a life-boat in a storm to take men from a wreck.

The hero that we speak about his praises for to tell
Is plucky Captain Randall commander of the Bill*
Who put his ship about that day to rescue he did go
And saved the lives of twenty-five out on the northern floe.

For two long days and dreary nights these poor lads had to stand
Caught in a blinding snow-storm, the crew of the Newfoundland,
Fatigued with hunger, thirst, and cold and no relief in sight,
When seventy-seven brave lads succumbed upon the ice that night.

On Thursday morn with tottering steps the few that did remain
Made for the Bill as best they could, the ship did try to gain,
And Captain Randall from the bridge these poor lads he did sight
Who told their sad and dismal tale how for their lives did fight.

The captain then gave up the voyage, for St. John’s he did steer,
To bring the dead and dying to the ones they loved most dear,
The kindness they received on board no human tongue could tell,
Of the kind-hearted sailors and the captain of the Bill.

In after years his name will live and hang on memory’s wall
To show their children’s children the heroes of them all.
And his kind-hearted sailors their great and daring band
Who saved the sole survivors of the steamship Newfoundland.

Source: Ryan, Shannon, and Larry Small. Haulin’ Rope and Gaff: Songs and Poems in the History of the Newfoundland Seal Fishery. St. John’s: Breakwater, 1978, p.94.

* One of the ships most involved in rescue efforts was the Bellaventure, captained by Robert Randall. “Bill” was presumably originally “Belle”; it also rhymes better.

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