The Smell of the Oil

 verse 1

In March of nineteen hundred and sixty seven

From the Gulf a great tanker set sail

One hundred and twenty thousand tons of crude oil

Round the Cape of Good Hope bound for Wales


The smell of the oil and the unceasing toil

When the birds and the rocks turned black

When the mighty Torrey Canyon went aground, went aground

And the Seven Stones broke her back.

 verse 2

She risked the strait passage twixt Land’s End and Scilly

To make port at the top of the tide

To pass safely to westward, her captain weren’t willing

Saw the rocks to late to turn aside


verse 3

With hope for her salvage three tugs steamed from Holland

Titan, Utrecht, and Stentor

Then a blast from below caused the death of a Dutchman

The oil it continued to pour.



verse 4

A thick black slick like a creeping curse

Spewed forth from the depths where her tanks had burst

All the ships spraying detergent for the oil to disperse

Made the slaughter underwater many many times worse

verse 5

The Navy sent their Buccaneers and Sea Vixens

With RAF Hunters as well

Their bombs and their rockets

Burnt the oil and then sank her

The great tanker slipped under the swell.



 verse 6

To Cornwall’s aid came fire brigades

From Wales and from England

And troops, at last help was at hand

They tried but they failed;

They strove to no avail.

To scrape the black sludge from the sand.



verse 3

That spring all the papers told tales of black beaches

Cornwall would see tourists no  more

But the hot summer of ’68 brought salvation

For life had returned to the shore.







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Dates 2020

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