I came across Liberty for the Sailors
in Roy Palmer's The Valiant Sailor
. The song has a fine, jolly tune and is interesting to sing in that there is a nice rapid, contrast of high and low notes. It sounds a little strange for modern audiences and I sing it only quite rarely in public although I sing it quite a bit for my own pleasure.
The song is, as the title suggests, about the joys of shore-going and in this case on the conclusion of a commission when the ship is being paid-off. I know even after all these years and remembering back to my service in the Royal Navy that special tingle when boarding a libertyboat as a libertyman for the delights of whatever particular port we might be at. I also recall being a POOD (Petty Officer-of-the-Day) both on H.M.S. Victorious and H.M.S. Lofoten and having, as one of my duties, the task of mustering the libertymen for inspection by the Gangway Officer. I was always very envious when they boarded the liberty-boat whilst I had to remain onboard. Yes Sir!. Yes Sir!, this song means a lot to me!
Since writing the above in the late 1990s, I have now (April 2013) found whilst studying Geordie Folk Music that Liberty for the Sailors
may be considered a Tyneside song as it is included in Northumbrian Minstrelsy
(1882) by J. Collingwood Bruce and John Stokoe as well as Stocoe's Songs and Ballads of Northern England
(1893). To my delight, it has one more verse than given in Roy Palmer's publication.