Since 2000, Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September has honoured the brave men and women who kept our ‘island nation’ afloat during both World Wars, and celebrated our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports, including half the food we eat, plenty of the fuel we burn and virtually all the products and goods we take for granted.
By David Partridge, Botany Bay, Australia.
Don’t speak to me of heroes until you’ve heard the tale
Of Britain’s merchant seamen who sailed through storm and gale
To keep those lifelines open in our hour of need
When a tyrant cast a shadow across our Island breed
Captains, greasers, cabin boys, mates and engineers
Heard the call to duty cast aside their fears
They stoked those hungry boilers and stood behind the wheel
While cooks and stewards manned the guns on coffins made of steel
They moved in icy convoys from Scapa to Murmansk
And crossed the western ocean, never seeking thanks.
They sailed the South Atlantic where raiders lay in wait
And kept the food lines open from Malta to the Cape.
Tracked by silent U-boats which hunted from below,
Shelled by mighty cannons and fighter’s flying low,
They clung to burning lifeboats when the sea had turned to flame
And watched their ship mates disappear to everlasting fame.
I speak not of a handful but 3O,OOO plus,
Some whose names we’ll never know in whom we placed our trust.
They never knew the honour of medals on their chests
or marching bands and victory and glory and the rest.
The ocean is their resting place, their tombstone is the wind,
The seabird’s cry their last goodbye to family and friend.
Freighters, troopships, liners and tankers by the score,
Fishing boats and coasters, 2,OOO ships and more
They flew the Red Duster as they sank beneath the waves
And took those countless heroes to lonely ocean graves.
Their legacy is freedom to those who hold it dear
To walk with clear horizons and never hide in fear
So when you speak of heroes remember those at sea
From Britain’s Merchant Navy who died to keep us free.
On Monday, 20 August 2018, 18:23, JD WYATT <email@example.com> wrote: