Scots Sangs Fur Schools

Traditional and new Scots songs for use in Scottish schools

FAREWELL TO SICILY

This song was made in 1944, the words are by Hamish Henderson. The tune is called ‘Farewell to the Creeks’ and was composed by Pipe Major James ‘Pipie’ Robertson of Boyne, Banffshire, in 1915 when he was a prisoner of war in Germany.

It tells about Scottish soldiers who are waiting to be ferried out to the offshore ships that will sail away over the Mediterranean sea from the island of Sicily. They are going home to Britain with General Montgomery, to be part of the D-Day invasion of Europe.

Their comrades in the Eighth Army crossed over to the mainland of Italy and fought their way north. The Highland regiments took their pipers and drummers with them to the fighting.

The piper is homesick and will not regret leaving Sicily. The drummer is sorry to be leaving Lola, his Italian girlfriend.

The lyric was written by Hamish Henderson while he was Intelligence Officer for the Highland Division in World War II. G W Lockhart (in 'Fiddles and Folk', 1998) relates that Henderson had been viewing the smoke curling from Mount Etna’s crater in the distance behind the pipes and drums of the division’s 153 Brigade, when the band launched into 'Farewell to the Creeks'. 'Without hindrance,' said Henderson, 'the words came flowing to me.'

 

The pipie is dozie, the pipie is fey

He winna come roon for his vino the day

The sky ow’r Messina is unco an grey

An a' the bricht chaulmers are eerie

 

Then fare weel, ye banks o Sicily,

Fare ye weel, ye valley and shaw

There’s nae Jock will mourn the kyles o ye,

Puir bliddy swaddies are wearie

 

Fare weel, ye banks o Sicily,

Fare ye weel ye valley and shaw

There’s nae hame can smoor the wiles o ye,

Puir bliddy swaddies are wearie

 

Then doon the stair and line the waterside,

Wait your turn, the ferry’s awa

Then doon the stair and line the waterside

A’ the bricht chaulmers are eerie

 

The drummie is polisht, the drummie is braw

He cannae be seen for his webbin ava.

He’s beezed himsel up for a photo an a’

Tae leave wi his Lola, his dearie.

 

Fare weel, ye banks o Sicily

(Fare ye weel, ye shieling an ha’)

We’ll a’ mind shebeens and bothies

Whaur Jock made a date wi his dearie

 

Sae fare weel, ye dives o Sicily

(Fare ye weel, ye shieling an ha’)

We’ll a’ mind shebeens and bothies

Whaur kind signorinas were cheerie

 

Then tune the pipes and drub the tenor drum

(Leave your kit this side o the wa)

Then tune the pipes and drub the tenor drum

A’ the bricht chaulmers are eerie