Beaches of St. Valery
Words & Music by Davey Steel
- Bill Masino – Lead vocal
- Kathleen Mullaly Masino - Harmony vocal
- Colin O'Brian - Acoustic Guitar
- Liisa Church - Violin
The Beaches of St Valery
is dedicated to Bill's father & uncles and the men & women of
their generation, the finest our country has ever seen, for their
sacrifices in WWII. And to our good friend Sam, who is of that same
- Song introduction
by Bill Masino:
- "In my opinion, this song is
one of the most important songs written in the 20th
- Someone once said, poor is the
country with no heroes and worse yet, is the country that forgets it's
- This is exactly what happened to
the 51st Highlanders. In WWII the 51st Highlands were left
behind to guard the retreat at Dunkirk. This allowed what was
left of the British, French and Belgium armies to escape to England,
making it impossible for the Nazi to invade England. Which, in
turn, giving the American forces a base from which to liberate Europe.
- Davey Steel 's father & uncle
were members of the 51st Highlands. His father made it out on
the last transport, but his uncle didn't. He was in a POW camp
in Germany until the end of the war.
- 1) It was in 1940, the last days of
- We were sent to the Maginot line,
- A fortress in France, built to halt
- Of an army from a different time.
- But we were soon overrun, out-thought
- Pushed further back every day.
- But we never believed high command
would just leave us.
- So we fought every step of the way
- 2) 'Til the 51st Highlanders found themselves on
- The banks of the Somme one more time.
- It still bore the scars of that war to end wars.
- The old soldier’s scars deep in their minds.
- But we didn’t stay long for the Panzers rolled on
- As the battle raged west t’wards the sea,
- Until on June the 10th when sapped of all strength
entered St. Valery
- And all I recall is the last boat leavin’!
- My brother on board waving and calling to me
- And the Jocks stranded there wi’ his hands in the air
- On the beaches of St. Valery
- 3) So I huddled all night in a hammered old house
- As the shells and the bullets rained down
- ‘Til just before dawn our hopes were still strong
- For we moved to the beach from the town
- But the boat that had left on the day we arrived
- Was the last one that we’d ever see
- An’ with no ammo or food we had done all we could
- Se we surrendered at St. Valery
- 4) When I returned at the end of the war,
- From the Stalag where I’d been confined,
- I read of the battles the allies had fought,
- Stalingrad, Alamein, and the Rhine.
- And with pride in their hearts people spoke of Dunkirk
- Where defeat had become victory
- But nobody mentioned that Highland Division.
- They’d never heard of St.Valery
- 5) No stories no statues for those that were killed.
- No honors for those who were gone.
- Just a deep sense of shame as though we were to blame,
- Though I knew in my heart we were not.
- So I’ve moved to a country I’ve come to call home
- But my homeland lies far o’er the sea.
- I will never return while my memory still burns
- On the beaches of St. Valery.