Week 64 – The Banks of the Nile

The Battle of Alexandria - 1801 (from http://mfo.me.uk/histories/jamesmitchellmedals.php, artist not given)

The Battle of Alexandria – 1801

British forces formed part of a military alliance which drove Napoleon’s French out of Egypt in 1801, and I imagine this song dates from that period. But in fact British soldiers fought many more campaigns in Egypt and Sudan over the next century and a half, so it’s a song which would not have lost its currency. And of course, on Remembrance Sunday, it is worth remarking that British troops continue to fight – and die – in a variety of “sandy desert places” to this day.

I first came across this song in the late seventies, in Peggy Seeger & Ewan MacColl’s book, The Singing Island, although it was several years before I learned it properly. It’s a version from  Betsy Henry, of Auchterarder in Pethshire – actually, MacColl’s mother. I have anglicised it slightly, although that didn’t amount to much more than substituting “England” for “Scotland” in the last verse.

The Banks of the Nile

Andy Turner: vocal, C/G anglo-concertina

2 Responses to “Week 64 – The Banks of the Nile”

  1. Great stuff…. always wonder’d what it sounded like, as my Dad wrote it in his songbook… but I never heard him sing it !

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