roy may

Under The Old Red Duster (The Flag Of The British Merchant Navy) - Poem by roy may

The Battle of the Atlantic

We’ve heard of the famous Mighty Hood that was sunk by a Bismarck shell
We know how many men were lost and the Skippers name as well
We’ve seen the Battleship Barham rolling on her side
before the huge explosion in which so many died

The Repulse and Prince of Wales on rout to the Singapore post
Both lost to the Jap torpedo planes off the Malaya coast
There’s a film about the Kelly sunk in the battle of Crete
And of the famous River Plate where we inflicted defeat

Yet who knows the names of the merchant ships sunk almost every day
Who knew that as these ships went down seamen were put off pay
Shipping Companies oft did this to cut down on the cost
They lost one of their freighters, but how many lives were lost

What of the men on the Arctic run ferrying Russian supplies
The ocean full of U-boats and Bombers filling the skies
Sailing a gas filled Tanker some only in their teens
Wondering if they’ll freeze to death or be blown to smithereens

Wallowing along in a rusting tramp to save the Russian Nation
Struggling to make eight knots whilst trying to keep station
Should a seaman stay topside or should he seek his bunk
Knowing if you fall astern your certain to be sunk

Many a merchant ship now lies under the Barents Sea
Lost in a desperate struggle to set the Russians free
The ocean bed is littered with merchant seaman’s bones
Now to lay forever at peace with Davie Jones

As a Nation we are rightly proud of our Navy in World War Two
Likewise of the R.A.F and what we owe to the few
To the men who fought at Arhnem and Monty’s Desert Rats
To those who fought the Japanese to all we raise our hats

From the Home Guard to the S.O.E in it from the start
All of our Armed Services were keen to play their part
Each had lost so many when they counted the final muster
But the greatest loss was those who sailed under the Old Red Duster

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Poem Edited: Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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