Barbed Wire Round The Harbour
From the CD "WEST"

Fremantle Harbour was a secret submarine base during WW2. Many young men left for special operations in the Java sea. Many are still on patrol.


Winner of the Lawson Paterson Songwriting Contest Port Fairy Folk Festival 2003

It’s 1942 and the world is at war
They’ve bombed the Darwin harbour
And they’ve taken Singapore
And my young lad’s joined the navy
He was always strong and keen
Now he’s somewhere in the Java sea
Aboard a submarine

They trained at Garden Island
It was all so secret then
We knew they would be going
But we weren’t told where or when
To halt the sons of heaven
On their murderous regime
Silently submerging aboard a submarine


And there’s barbed wire round the harbour
Fremantle’s full of Yanks
I’m working for munitions
v Little choice and little thanks
And I haven’t seen my young lad
Since he joined the war machine
Somewhere in the Java sea
Aboard a submarine

1943 and the world is still in flames
They cancelled new year’s holiday
But we took it just the same
And the prospect of invasion
Is all so very real
And everybody’s shoulder
Is at every wartime wheel

We don’t get information
But from what I’ve heard them say
Life on board these submarines
Would turn a young man grey
And your life would flash before you
When the orders came to dive
And despite the heat and hardships
You’d thank God you’re still alive


And I saw phosphorescent flashes
And a soft light on the sea
And I knew that he was with me
In the silence of my dreams

So now the war is over
There’s so much that has been lost
The hollowness of victory
Always deepens with the cost
And the harbour’s gained a slipway
But there’s no more submarines
And they tell me it’s the biggest base
The southern world had seen

They talk about the glory
And how the war was won
And the special operations
By the likes of my young son
And I let my anger sink down
To the bottom of my soul
And think about the soft light
And a young man
Still on patrol

Last chorus
There's no more
Barbed wire round the harbour
But it stays around my heart
And the victory celebrations
Couldn’t shake my grief apart
And I never saw my young lad
Since he joined the war machine
For he’s still beneath the Java sea
Aboard a submarine

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