The Cat Boats are Flying

Songs and poetry relating to the RFC and RAF or aviation in general

The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby RAAF Spitfire Girl » 03 Dec 2014, 10:28

If by any chance I've posted this on another thread some time ago - please forgive me. Not taking any responsibility for my brain snaps [er - lapses :? ] at the moment :lol: As some of you know, my father-in-law was air crew on Catalinas in the RAAF during the War, and I've been looking at some old photos and "stuff" over the past couple of days and found this again. Mr RSG's dad told some wonderful stories of his time on Catalinas and I can so easily imagine this being belted out in the Mess at night after they returned from a gruelling patrol... It's also worth commenting that the RAAF Cats were painted black and referred to as "The Black Cats" (Part of this was recited at Dad's funeral two years ago...)

The Cat Boats Are Flying Tonight
(Sung to the tune of "The Man on the Flying Trapeeze")

They fly through the sky with a nonchalant air,
With Zeros they play like tortoise and hare,
And the word gets around for the Japs to beware,
The Cat boats are flying tonight.

They hang on the bomb racks a dozen or more,
And 20lb frags simply litter the floor,
So start up the donks and we're off to the war,
The Cat boats are flying tonight.

With many a sigh for our warm little cots,
We thread our way through the steamers and yachts,
And take to the air at a full 60 knots,
The Cat boats are flying tonight.

After plugging along for an hour or two,
The skipper looks around at his trustworthy crew,
The observer's asleep and the engineer too,
The Cat boats are flying tonight.

Comes a break in the clouds and a light down below,
The skipper has had it, so says "let 'em go",
And mixed bombs and beer bottles rain on the foe,
The Cat boats are flying tonight.

The clouds are clamped down onto Cairns like a vice,
The wireless op twiddles his dials once or twice,
"I can't get a bearing, the set's on the ice",
The Cat boats have had it tonight.

The wobble pump's gone and the compass is swinging,
But on through the night the great Cat boat is winging,
Then the engines cut out and we hear angels singing,
"The Cat boats won't make it tonight".

So down through the clouds on the old bank and turn,
Then somebody yells "And there's Cairns just astern",
And down on the water the landing flares burn,
The cat boats just made it again.

We lasso the buoy after fighting the tide,
Then off into town for a quick one at Hides,
And so ends one more of our hair raising rides,
The Cat boats were flying last night.

Though dicing with death every day of our lives,
We still find some time for our girl friends and wives,
Whacko, when the two forty hourly arrives...
The Cat boats will not fly tonight.

This poem was given to Warren Gengos at the Edinburgh Airshow this
year [I have no idea which year this refers to] by Doug Nicholas. Doug's father, RP Nicholas (47374) was a military
photographer and was with the Catalinas at Bowen and Molle Island. As
a Cat pilot, Warren agrees with everything in the poem, including the 20lb
fragmentation bombs rolling round on the floor. They used to toss them
out the blister during bombing runs. The take-off speed from the water is
60kts and of course the reference to having a beer at Hides is accurate.
Hides Hotel is still running in Cairns today. The reference to the 240 hourly
inspections in the last verse is also correct, as these would take a number
of days to complete.
RAAF Spitfire Girl
Wing commander
Wing commander
 
Posts: 3517
Images: 100
Joined: 19 Apr 2013, 21:49
Location: South East Queensland, Australia.
Reading last: The Corners of the Globe (Robert Goddard)
Reading now: Enemy Coast Ahead
Reading next: Still a Tough decision!!
My top chap: Biggles, Biggles, and Biggles
Aircraft: Spitfire
Random: Walking Hadrian's Wall May 2017

Re: The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby OzBiggles1963 » 03 Dec 2014, 12:02

Enjoyed reading this immensely RSG, thanks for sharing! So typically Australian...one of my grandad's favourite exclamations was invariably 'whacko' too [or the full version 'whacko the diddle oh', which I think means 'you beauty', or words to that effect, lol]. :D
They've been working together for so long that each seems to know by a sort of telepathy when another is in trouble. One never seems to get them together. Get one & the others come after him. To give the devil his due they make a formidable team.
User avatar
OzBiggles1963
Wing commander
Wing commander
 
Posts: 4477
Images: 263
Joined: 12 Jun 2013, 10:15
Location: Brisbane. Australia.
Reading last: Ginger Lacey: Fighter Pilot
Reading now: Danger UXB; The Little Prince
Reading next: History Of The Luftwaffe [1936-1945]
My top chap: J.C. Bigglesworth MC, DFC, DSO
Starsign: Scorpio
Aircraft: Supermarine Spitfire
Random: "Live long and prosper."

Re: The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby VickersVandal » 03 Dec 2014, 12:27

Oath! I love it. :D

I had the privilege of watching the HARS Black Cat fly just overhead at last month's Rathmines Catalina Festival, and be absorbed in all things Catalina and flying boatsy. Then just the other week my wife (bless her soul) gave me the Monogram RAAF Black Cat kit for my birthday. I'll post a shot when I've built it.
User avatar
VickersVandal
Site Orderly
Site Orderly
 
Posts: 1099
Images: 296
Joined: 03 May 2013, 10:33
Location: The depths of Sydney.
Reading last: Whatever I needed to complete the last model
Reading now: Whatever I need to complete the current model
Reading next: Whatever I need to complete the next model
My top chap: Dickpa
Starsign: Star of Bethlehem
Aircraft: The Vandal
Random: NOT FROM YOU, YOU'RE COVERED IN BEES!

Re: The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby kylie_koyote » 03 Dec 2014, 12:28

OzBiggles1963 wrote:Enjoyed reading this immensely RSG, thanks for sharing! So typically Australian...one of my grandad's favourite exclamations was invariably 'whacko' too [or the full version 'whacko the diddle oh', which I think means 'you beauty', or words to that effect, lol]. :D


Is that from "Whack-ho the daddy-oh, there's whisky in the jar"?

Lovely read, RSG, thank you for sharing!
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."
User avatar
kylie_koyote
Air commodore
Air commodore
 
Posts: 10970
Images: 393
Joined: 06 Dec 2013, 19:32
Location: Northeast USA
Reading last: Sharpe's Tiger
Reading now: Tumult in the Clouds
Reading next: so many choices...
My top chap: Ginger
Aircraft: Spitfire

Re: The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby OzBiggles1963 » 03 Dec 2014, 13:42

Could be...although the lyrics from memory (from the original Dubliners folk ballad, re-made by Thin Lizzy in the 70's & then Metallica in the 90's) I thought was 'whack for my daddy-o, there's whiskey in the jar-o' etc. Very interesting song about a highwayman I believe...I prefer the Metallica version, lol.
They've been working together for so long that each seems to know by a sort of telepathy when another is in trouble. One never seems to get them together. Get one & the others come after him. To give the devil his due they make a formidable team.
User avatar
OzBiggles1963
Wing commander
Wing commander
 
Posts: 4477
Images: 263
Joined: 12 Jun 2013, 10:15
Location: Brisbane. Australia.
Reading last: Ginger Lacey: Fighter Pilot
Reading now: Danger UXB; The Little Prince
Reading next: History Of The Luftwaffe [1936-1945]
My top chap: J.C. Bigglesworth MC, DFC, DSO
Starsign: Scorpio
Aircraft: Supermarine Spitfire
Random: "Live long and prosper."

Re: The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby Kismet » 03 Dec 2014, 14:14

OzBiggles1963 wrote:Could be...although the lyrics from memory (from the original Dubliners folk ballad, re-made by Thin Lizzy in the 70's & then Metallica in the 90's) I thought was 'whack for my daddy-o, there's whiskey in the jar-o' etc. Very interesting song about a highwayman I believe...I prefer the Metallica version, lol.



'Whack fol di daddio' is my version of the lyric. I suspect there isn't a 'correct' one.

It's got to be the Thin Lizzy version: the video puts me off Metallica's!
'Major Bigglesworth' said Von Stalhein coldly, 'there are times when I seriously wonder if you were created by the devil just to annoy me.'
User avatar
Kismet
Air commodore
Air commodore
 
Posts: 20661
Images: 91
Joined: 28 Aug 2013, 21:10
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
Reading last: Cosy Witch Stories
Reading now: J S Fletcher 40 British Mysteries/Crime
My top chap: Biggles
Starsign: Capricorn

Re: The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby tiffinata » 03 Dec 2014, 22:17

Kismet wrote:
OzBiggles1963 wrote:Could be...although the lyrics from memory (from the original Dubliners folk ballad, re-made by Thin Lizzy in the 70's & then Metallica in the 90's) I thought was 'whack for my daddy-o, there's whiskey in the jar-o' etc. Very interesting song about a highwayman I believe...I prefer the Metallica version, lol.



'Whack fol di daddio' is my version of the lyric. I suspect there isn't a 'correct' one.

It's got to be the Thin Lizzy version: the video puts me off Metallica's!


I reckon its older again- my grandmother used to say 'whacko the diddle-o' and there was no chance she'd heard of Thin Lizzy or Metallica


More towards topic- Did I read somewhere that someone in Australia is restoring one of these Cats?
'....you cannot flout Nature with impunity. Treat Nature with respect, and she will tolerate you, even encourage you; but treat her with contempt, and your days are numbered.' Hits the Trail
User avatar
tiffinata
Wing commander
Wing commander
 
Posts: 5754
Images: 222
Joined: 27 Dec 2013, 12:02
Location: Melbourne
Reading last: probably something on facebook.
Reading now: about a dozen books at once.
Reading next: hmmm. too many to choose from. sigh.
Aircraft: Beaufighter and Pup.

Re: The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby 266 » 04 Dec 2014, 00:59

Not sure about Oz but Catalina in NZ hoping to fly in 2015
Zorotov: "We shall meet again."
Biggles: "If we do, the pleasure will be all yours."
User avatar
266
Flying officer
Flying officer
 
Posts: 508
Images: 10
Joined: 22 May 2013, 05:18
Location: New Zealand
Reading last: In the days of the comet
Reading now: Biggles in France
Reading next: War of the Worlds
My top chap: WEJ - the founder of the feast
Aircraft: Concorde
Random: Ahhh....de Havilland....

Re: The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby OzBiggles1963 » 04 Dec 2014, 02:41

266 wrote:Not sure about Oz but Catalina in NZ hoping to fly in 2015


I wonder if it is this one at Bankstown Airport, Sydney?

http://www.catalinaflying.org.au/
They've been working together for so long that each seems to know by a sort of telepathy when another is in trouble. One never seems to get them together. Get one & the others come after him. To give the devil his due they make a formidable team.
User avatar
OzBiggles1963
Wing commander
Wing commander
 
Posts: 4477
Images: 263
Joined: 12 Jun 2013, 10:15
Location: Brisbane. Australia.
Reading last: Ginger Lacey: Fighter Pilot
Reading now: Danger UXB; The Little Prince
Reading next: History Of The Luftwaffe [1936-1945]
My top chap: J.C. Bigglesworth MC, DFC, DSO
Starsign: Scorpio
Aircraft: Supermarine Spitfire
Random: "Live long and prosper."

Re: The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby RAAF Spitfire Girl » 04 Dec 2014, 03:42

tiffinata wrote:More towards topic- Did I read somewhere that someone in Australia is restoring one of these Cats?


HARS (Historical Aircraft Restoration Society) restored one Black Cat - the one VV is referring to above. It was completed a few years ago and makes an annual appearance at the Rathmines Catalina Festival (also referenced by VV :D ) We went down to Rathmines a couple of years ago and were absolutely ecstatic over the Black Cat's appearance, performance etc. (Rathmines was the RAAF Base where Mr RSG's Dad did his conversion training to Catalinas, and I was there for a RAAF reunion.)
There was also one being restored at RAAF Base Amberley back in the 90s and I have photos (somewhere) of the work-in-progress when we gained permission to visit and take Dad with us. The crew who were working on it were completely delighted to have Dad as their guest for the day and I remember they asked him lots of questions. I'm not certain if the Amberley restoration project is the HARS' Cat?

It was really great for Mr RSG to wander through the HARS Cat at Rathmines and see where his dad sat (he was an Observer/Navigator) and worked.
RAAF Spitfire Girl
Wing commander
Wing commander
 
Posts: 3517
Images: 100
Joined: 19 Apr 2013, 21:49
Location: South East Queensland, Australia.
Reading last: The Corners of the Globe (Robert Goddard)
Reading now: Enemy Coast Ahead
Reading next: Still a Tough decision!!
My top chap: Biggles, Biggles, and Biggles
Aircraft: Spitfire
Random: Walking Hadrian's Wall May 2017

Re: The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby Foolscap » 13 Aug 2017, 09:47

Thanks, RSG, for sharing the song and your linked history...absolutely fascinating:-)
"If you're going to leave the beaten track the first thing is to make sure you've got your sense of humour with you."
--Biggles on Mystery Island.
Foolscap
Pilot officer
Pilot officer
 
Posts: 163
Images: 7
Joined: 21 Jun 2017, 22:56

Re: The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby Wanderer » 13 Aug 2017, 15:06

kylie_koyote wrote:
OzBiggles1963 wrote:Enjoyed reading this immensely RSG, thanks for sharing! So typically Australian...one of my grandad's favourite exclamations was invariably 'whacko' too [or the full version 'whacko the diddle oh', which I think means 'you beauty', or words to that effect, lol]. :D

Is that from "Whack-ho the daddy-oh, there's whisky in the jar"?
Lovely read, RSG, thank you for sharing!

So far as I am aware "whacko" first appears in the Australian press, as a positive exclamation, in the poem "The Bare Belled Ewe" - progenitor of that more famous Australian bush balled "Click Go the Shears" - in 1891.
(Raymond) "'It's the early bird that catches the worm, you know,'
'... Not always. Sometimes he catches a slug—in the back of the neck,' contradicted Biggles.
User avatar
Wanderer
Flying officer
Flying officer
 
Posts: 535
Images: 11
Joined: 24 Apr 2016, 15:35
Location: Australia

Re: The Cat Boats are Flying

Postby Wanderer » 13 Aug 2017, 15:34

tiffinata wrote:More towards topic- Did I read somewhere that someone in Australia is restoring one of these Cats?

There's a surprising number of Cats in various states of repair in Australia - at least 13 I can trace (at least three flying or potentially flyable) - plus about three in NZ (one of these flying). The Australian ones include three hulls converted in house-boats - two on the Murray River and another in QLD. On display are:
    VH-EAX at Longreach QLD,
    The Catalina Flying Memorial Ltd.'s VH-CAT based in Sydney,
    HARS' VH-PBZ,
    the Power House Museum's VH-ASA Frigate Bird II,
    RAAF's VH-EXG at Point Cook (this was the last Catalina commercially used in Australia, for survey work. I saw her flying soon before being withdrawn from use in 1987, by which time the hull was so fragile that she wasn't allowed to land on the water)
Plus a few wrecks.
(Raymond) "'It's the early bird that catches the worm, you know,'
'... Not always. Sometimes he catches a slug—in the back of the neck,' contradicted Biggles.
User avatar
Wanderer
Flying officer
Flying officer
 
Posts: 535
Images: 11
Joined: 24 Apr 2016, 15:35
Location: Australia


Return to Poetry/Songs

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest