I first heard "The banks of the Nile" sung by the Young Tradition on Wally Whyton's Folk Music programme sometime in 1983. It wasn't until I started singing with Steffi Lubrich
that I took a real interest when she wanted to sing it herself. The version we sang can be found in Roy Palmer's wonderful songbook The Valiant Sailor
The song can be said to be a typical period piece of departure for the wars where the sweetheart is not allowed to go due to dangers and climate. The line "And the Portsmouth hills were garnished with pretty girls all round" is especially evocative for me when I remember sailing for the Mediterranean on H.M.S. Victorious from Portsmouth and looking back at the misty Portsdown Hill as we cast-off from South Railway Pier.
is an Army representative of this type of song. The sentiments are the same but the lyrics and tune completely different.