Words and tune:
- event occurred on November 29, 1875
Locations associated with this song:
On November 29th, 1875, the schooner Waterwitch left St. John's to return to its home port of Cupids when it ran aground in Horrid Gulch, north of Pouch Cove, during a raging storm. A group of Pouch Cove men, led by Alfred Moores, bravely tried to save as many people as they could. Of the 25 people on board the Waterwitch, 12 perished. Moores would later be awarded a medal and diploma by the Royal Humane Society of Liverpool.
MacEdward Leach collected this song as a field recording in the 1950s from Alfred Moores, Jr.
All true-born Newfoundlanders, pray hearken unto me,
And hear your messmates tell you all the dangers of the sea;
You all remember Pouch Cove well, and her trueborn sons so brave,
Who saved the crew of the Waterwitch so near a watery grave.
On Christmas Eve that craft did leave as loud the winds did roar,
‘Twas on a reef she came to grief not far from Pouch Cove shore;
A place well called the Horrid Gulch this schooner headed on,
And in the twinkling of an eye three poor, dear souls were gone.
Two sailors from the Waterwitch leaped when they heard the shock,
The rest belong to that doomed ship were hurled upon the rock;
To wait three hours through storms and showers as loud the sea did dash,
They see their schooner breaking up hard on the cliff did smash.
The Pouch Cove fishermen to man, came out on that hard night,
For those who gazed on those poor souls it was a fearful sight;
And for to make the scene much worse four females numbed with cold,
Were waiting there to be relieved by those brave heroes bold.
Punts, ropes, and lanterns they were brought by kind and willing hands,
The shrieks of females in distress those fishermen could not stand;
And how to face the Horrid Gulch six hundred feet to go,
To save those souls half dead with cold who waited down below.
Brave Alfred Moores, a Pouch Cove man, "I'll take the lead," he cried,
While 'round his waist strong hempen rope in heavy knots they tied;
And now strong men are on the top to lower him o'er the cliff,
To dash our hero down below 'neath blinding snow and drift.
Three times they swung him in the dark through blinding drift and cold,
Before his feet could get a place to give him any hold;
At last he found a resting place close to a shelving stone,
Where he could see each soul below and hear their dismal moan.
And now to save this shipwrecked crew his heart is filled with hope,
Six more brave Pouch Cove fishermen like heroes man the rope;
And now a small handline by Moores, they managed for to lower,
Till all the Waterwitch's crew are landed safe on shore.
But, hark! Another scream is heard, the people get a shock,
Another female left below to perish on the rock;
When Alfred Moores made another dash, and loud the wind did roar,
And brings a woman in his arms in safety to the shore.
The news was soon in town next day about the Waterwitch,
The whole community got a shock, the poor as well as rich;
The Governor soon sent home with word in letters bold and grand,
To tell of the pluck of fishermen belong to Newfoundland.
The Humane Society of Liverpool did very soon send here,
Gold Medals for our fishermen who never knew no fear;
The Governor's Lady pinned them on, those medals rare and rich,
The Pouch Cove men who saved the lives on board the Waterwitch.
So here's success to those bold men who risk in storms or breeze,
Their precious lives for saving souls who venture on the seas;
May peace and plenty be their lot this true and sterling band,
Brave Alfred Moores and all the rest belong to Newfoundland.