JIM CARGILL


JIM CARGILL


Avoca Street
Randwick. NSW
Recorded 19th April 1973

 

JIM CARGILL

 


Mr Cargill was born 1891 in Dundee, Scotland. He remembers his father travelling out to Australia in the mid-1800s to work the Victorian gold diggings. Jimmy went whaling in the Davis Straits in 1907 and then to Australia in 1910 as a seaman. He visited the Panama Canal while it was being constructed. He returned to Australia to settle in 1916 in one of the ships commissioned by Billy Hughes.

“I was the first bloke for to see the midget submarine during WW2. I was working for the Maritime service Board and I was looking after two cranes at the gate in the west channel. That’s where the manly boats come up. Watson’s Bay is the East Side channel. Anyway, all the traffic was using the east channel that night because of some work to the boom gate. The west gate was closed off and it wasn’t finished so the sub came through the gate, about 80 feet inside the harbour and then went off course and hit a pilot light. I was out in my boat looking after the two cranes when the first jap must have seen me and he submerged where he must of got his propeller caught in one of the big rings. In the meantime I had gotten onto one of the shearlegs after a billy of tea. The watchman said to me “What do you think it is Jimmy? Is it the pile light?” So I said “Let go of the painter (bush slang for tea) and I’ll go have a look. So when I went over to it all I could see was the two torpedo tubes struggling to and fro and I still wasn’t sure what it was. It was like tow great oxy balls and I could see the guards over them. The harbour was full of shipping including The Chicago, The Canberra, Westralia was there, The Bungaree was there – they were all full of mines, you know. Well, I thought to myself, this is strange, it was there alongside the pilot light and the two pieces of metal tubing were still struggling. He was trying to get away, you see. I went over to the nearest patrol boat and told them there was a suspicious object at the pilot light and to follow me and I’d show them. The guard asked me to describe it. Well, I said, the nearest I could tell there was two great big oxy bottles with bumper bars or guards over them. But I said, follow me and I’ll put you onto it. I went back to it and he didn’t follow me so I went away back to him again and told him that it was still there and I said it’s struggling trying to – if it’s a mine you’d better hurry up.

He then told me to come on board, as something was wrong with the searchlight. Well, I went aboard before he got a signal and I told him to go to the pilot light but we were half way there when he stopped and said “It looks like naval wreckage: I said “gee I’ve been alongside it and I could touch it with my paddle. Everything is shining brand new. Another bloke said “We’ll look we’ve got gear (radar) aboard that you don’t know anything about.” So I said “alright give us one of your men and I’ll take him over to it.” So I went down with him and he said half way down the ladder when he was pulled up and another man went down to join me. We went over to it, nearly a paddle’s distance and it had stopped struggling and we could see the conning tower and the ridge rope and the whole outline of the submarine. The bloke said to me “It’s a submarine all right. Put me back aboard and we’ll see what we have to do.” When I set him aboard, well, she blew, the Jap blew himself up. The charges were going everywhere. After that, it being about half past ten, maybe twenty to eleven, when he blew himself up. The depth charges were going off everywhere. It all took about an hour. There were two other subs that got through. One was depth charged at Taylor Bay and we got her up afterwards. They ended up joining the two together to make one sub and that’s it up there in Canberra now.

This Gumtree Canoe song I learned it in one of the whaling barques out of Dundee. You know we went to the Artic and there was a whole fleet of whalers. We were after black whales and white whales. The sailors used to sing together at night.

The Gumtree Canoe

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Mr Cargill added “It goes well with a lot of singers all together”

Maids of Australia

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Blow the Man Down/Radcliffe Highway

(as used on the ship Diana when hoisting the topmast)
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Codfish

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Drunken Sailor

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Maggie May

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Bound for the Rio Grande

(Pumping ship shanty)

Oh it’s bound away for the Rio Grande
Heave away to Rio
We’re bound away for the Rio Grande

All bound for the Rio Grande
Oh Rio Grande is where I was born

So it’s pack up your satchel and come on with me
this barque goes along like a bird on the wing

As we walk round the capstan you’ll hear ’em all sing
Its sing fare thee well my wild Irish rose

 

It’s a Long Time Ago

It’s a long time and a very long time
To me way hay hay ho
It’s a long time ago

My mother she did tell to me
She said to me Jimmy don’t go to sea
I ran away and joined a big Glasgow barque
On the fourth of July we were crossing the line
It’s a long time and a very long time

 

Rolling Home

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Paddy Doyle

To me way hay hay hay
We’ll pay paddy Doyle for his boots

Of all his songs Jim Cargill seemed proudest of his rendition of a popular Scottish song. He thought he sounded as good as the original singer and was quite determined that I record it for the collection, adding, “Oh, it’s an old song.”

Roaming In The Gloaming

(Harry Lauder song. Complete)

On a subsequent visit to Mr Cargill he had remembered another song from his past. I have married the recalled verses with the verses recorded from Capt Henderson, (italics) recorded earlier by Mary Jean Officer and Norm O’Connor. Mr Cargill explained that “it was a well-known fo’c’s’le or forebitter song and refered to the rations handed out to prevent scurvy. It was from this practice that the English sailors earned the nickname ‘Limeys’.”

According To The Act

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