The S-51 Song

Many thanks to Daniel Demmons for giving me the recording of "The Sinking of the Submarine S-51". He and his father found a copy of the record, an old 78rpm, at a yard sale.

Special thanks to Michael Desjardins and his mother for providing me with the complete lyrics of this song. (The condition of the recording did not allow me to understand all the lyrics previously.) His parents' families used to sing this song when they were children, and his mother still remembers all the lyrics! It is believed that Alfred Geier, one of the three survivors, was a member of their family, and thus, the importance of this song to their family.

The Sinking of the Submarine S-51 was recorded by Al Carver (pseudonym for Vernon Dalhart, aka. Marion T. Slaughter, 1883-1948) on Columbia 15044-D. More information is available about him on the new Vernon Dalhart Website.

The Sinking of the Submarine S-51

'Twas a ship in the night on a cold shiny sea,
A big submarine sailed along.
'Twas the S-51 gliding on through the waves,
With a crew that was faithful and strong.

As they sailed on their way, they were thinking of home,
And the loved ones they had left on the shore.
Not once did they dream of that last fatal ride,
They'd never see home anymore.

Out of the night came a great master ship,
Speeding along through the tide.
It was struck with a crash, and the S-51
Was sunk with a hole in her side.

The brave crew was trapped with no chance for their life
As they sunk to a cold ocean bed.
Only three men were saved from that deep ocean grave,
While the rest of them lay cold and dead.

Then from the shore came a big rescue ship,
They worked night and day all in vain.
But the big submarine had been laid to her rest,
And its brave crew will never sail again.

There's a lesson to learn from this story so sad:
You know not what fate may befall.
And you should be right with the Maker above,
For you cannot tell when he will call.

Return to the S-51 Page.