Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Merchant Seaman - Lest We Forget

Another year passes and it's Anzac Day 2013 and a time to share my personal affection for those who have been down to the sea in ships; and many who never returned to shore...
I’ve read about soldiers and sailors
Of infantry, airmen and tanks,
Of battleships, corvettes and cruisers,
Of Anzacs, Froggies and Yanks;
But there’s one other man to remember
Who was present at many affray,
He wears neither medals or ribbons
And derides any show of display.

I’m talking of AB’s and fireman,
Of stewards, greasers and cooks,
Who manned the great steamers in convoy,
(You won’t read about them in books).
No uniform gay were they dressed in,
Nor marched with colours unfurled,
They steamed out across the wide oceans,
And travelled all over the world.
Their history goes back through the ages,
A record of which to be proud.
And the bones of their forefathers moulder,
With nought but the deep for a shroud.
For armies have swept onto victory
For country, freedom and pride.

In Thousands they sailed from their homeland,
From Liverpool, Hull and the Clyde.
To London and Bristol and Cardiff,
They came back again on the tide.
An old four-point seven their safeguard –
What nice easy prey for the Huns
Who trailed them in bombers and U-boats
And sank them with “tin fish” and guns.

The epic of gallant “Otaki”,
That grim forlorn hope “Jervis Bay”,
Who fought to the last and were beaten,
But they joined the illustrious array,
Whoses skeletons lie ‘neath the waters
Whose deeds are remembered today,
And their glory will shine undiminished,
Long after our flesh turns to clay.

They landed the Anzacs at Suvia,
And stranded the old “River Clyde”,
Off Dunkirk they gathered the remnants,
(and still they weren’t satisfied),
They battled their way through to Malta,
And rescued the troops from Malay.
They brought the Eighth Army munitions,
And took all the prisoners away.

And others signed on in tankers,
And loaded crude oil and octane –
The lifeblood of warships and engines,
Of mechanised transport and plane
These men were engulfed in infernos
In ships that were sunk without trace.

They were classed as non-combatant services,
Civilians who fought without guns –
And many the time they’d have welcomed
A chance of a crack at the Huns.
But somehow in spite of this drawback.
The steamers still sailed and arrived,
And they fed fifty million people
And right to the end they survived.

And now the turmoil has ended
Our enemies vanquished and fled –
We’ll pray that living will foster
The spirit of those who are dead.
When the next generation takes over.
This country we now hold in dear,
Will be theirs – may they cherish it’s freedom,
And walk down the pathways of peace.

When the Master of Masters holds judgement
And the Devil’s dark angels have flown,
When the Clerk of the Heavenly Council
Decrees that the names shall be shown –
They will stand out in glittering letters,
Inscribed with the blood they have shed,
Names of ships and Merchant Seamen who manned them,
The oceans will give up the dead.
With acknowledgement to the Anonymous person who wrote this evocative piece.

No comments:

Post a Comment