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Sweet Adeline
Sweet Adeline 

Western Mail, Thursday 28 December 1933, page 2

Sweet Adeline.

(By "Old C.", Perth.)

Strangely enough, my most memorable incident is my most musical memory.

There were 1,300 of us on board the S.S. Buteshire en route for France from England in 1914. It was very late in the night when we arrived opposite Le Havre. The ship was almost in darkness, and there were only a few lights showing on shore. Overhead the stars shone brightly in a clear sky.

The ship and the shore were silent as we drew nearer the wharf. The decks were crowded with men with their gear at their feet waiting to be landed, and we were all a trifle eager to catch our first glimpse of France. We had expected the wharves to be crowded with chattering French people waiting to see us disembark; waiting lo cheer us as heroes who had come to fight for their country. But we were disappointed. The shore was almost entirely deserted. The one exception was a solitary young woman standing beneath a lamp post. Most of us saw her and wondered why she was there alone.

There was only a faint rumbling of engines and the soft lapping of water to break a strange silence. We were watching the girl on the wharf. She stood motionless, intent, it seemed, only on the slow movement of the ship. I wondered what brought her here alone at such an hour.

Then out of that silent crowd of men rose a fine baritone voice singing that old song:

"Sweet Adeline. Sweet Adeline,

At night, dear heart, for you I pine

After the first two, lines the song was taken up by all the 1,300 men. A strange thrill ran through me, for the song seemed to fill the world


As we drew closer the girl backed away and was eventually lost in the shadows. As she disappeared the song died away, and we were as silent as before.