East Looe Boys

by Alan Moorhouse
Go here to listen and here to see a photo of the band

It was Saturday night
and we were tight
and the maids were locked indoors
and we planned to meet at Union Street
mid the sailors and the whores

On our forth round
we heard the sound
they singin’ Trelawney song
they fisher-boys makin all that noise
and from then it didn’t take long

When the East Looe Boys come in
with a shout and a terrible din
we would smack some chins
and get stuck in
when the East Looe Boys come in

We would fight they boys whenever we could
in the pubs or county fairs
we’d fight they Bodmin and Liskeard boys
Anytime anyplace! anywhere

For we worked six days
in frost or blaze
on the land throughout the year
and on Saturday night we’d go out and fight
and we’d fill our ‘eads with beer

When the East Looe Boys come in
with a shout and a terrible din
we would smack some chins
and get stuck in
when the East Looe Boys come in

By ’41 me friends had gone
and the woman worked the land
but at last I turned eighteen
and the Army took this young farmhand

The basic training soon brought home
there was worse than a big black eye
for fightin’ that meant somethin else
at the old DCLI

When the East Looe Boys come in
with a shout and a terrible din
we would smack some chins
and get stuck in
when the East Looe Boys come in

At Tobruk, Benghazi, and El Alamein
we left good friends behind
and we landed ashore at Salerno
and the bloody place was mined

With a shattered leg under firin’ shell
I was scared out of my skin
and I thought me time had come as well
till the East Looe Boys come in

When the East Looe Boys come in
it was then we knew we’d win
and this frightened boy nearly cried for joy
when the East Looe Boys come in

They cleared the ridge that had pinned us down
they led us through the wire
Jim Batten grinned as he led me in
to a place not under fire

And they saved me leg and the German lad
who was lyin next to me
and I raised me thumb and I never made

another enemy

When the East Looe Boys come in
it was then we knew we’d win
and this frightened boy nearly cried for joy
when the East Looe Boys come in

So we go back there
just now and then
just Jim and Hans and me
and the crosses of so many men
it breaks your heart to see

And we fought back tears
these many years
we are old and grey and thin
but wherever we are they’ll be pints on the bar
when the East Looe Boys come in

When the East Looe Boys come in
When the East Looe Boys come in
this frightened boy nearly cried for joy
when the East Looe Boys come in

When the East Looe Boys come in
When the East Looe Boys come in
and wherever we are they’ll be pints on the bar
when the East Looe Boys come in


Thanks to my dear friend Rebecca Jessup for introducing me to this song – it touched my heart.

I’ve linked all the place-names and other info I could guess at. Still not sure what ‘get stuck in’ means but I surmise it has to do with getting one’s arse kicked roundly.

3 thoughts on “East Looe Boys

  1. Thanks for your kind remarks. There are a couple of small corrections, which I would like to add to the lyrics. In the first verse, it should say “mid the sailors and the whores”. You have correctly guessed that the Union Street in question is that which runs along the docks area of Plymouth (UK) and Devonport. It was a notorious red light area and well known for many years for punch ups between groups of sailors, marines, soldiers, local boys etc. The second verse begins, “We would fight they boys…” (Cornish and Plymothian dialect. The whole song is in a mild form of dialect). In the third verse, the third mentioned battle is El Alamein, which like Tobruk and Benghazi, was fought in North Africa. Thanks for posting the song. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Alan, thank you SO MUCH for the corrections. I spent a great deal of time deciphering (and very much enjoying!) the ‘mild form of dialect’ and gained an even greater appreciation for the song and the storyteller. What a tale – you tell it with such heart it makes me cry every time I hear it. I hope to see you in the US sometime – any chance you’ll be in the Denver area?

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