P.R.Leslie # 342 – 1927/28
My night to remember dates back to November –
the year of the war ’42.
When, through Monty’s attack – ‘planes, tanks and ack-ack
we had occupied Mersa Metruh.
Up to then we had made peaceful trips to Port Said
with ships of a Mercantile crew
But now we’d set course to support Monty’s force
to a place of which few of us knew.
We sailed all that day making little headway –
our Merchantman lagging behind,
While we zig-zagged ahead and our convoy we led
in the teeth of an increasing wind.
With an overcast sky and a sea running high
(for the glass had been steadily falling)
Not too happy indeed, for with much reduced speed
and a positive submarine warning.
Had set the crew tense – it was plain common sense
to expect an attack before morning !
At nightfall we closed to a distance supposed
to be safe where a more watchful eye
Could be kept on the Merchantman under our care
in the night of a starless sky.
It was madness we knew for a sub to break through
for to surface in seas of that might.
Would be plain suicide and with that as our guide
tension eased for the rest of the night.
I had sent down to call the next watch, first of all
to locate and secure a loose door
When an ear splitting crack sent me hurtling back
and through the bridge window I saw
A mountain of steel, split from funnel to keel –
a proud ship one moment before !
P.S. Survivors must tell of that watery hell –
that night that dates back to November.
In the year ’42 (if they so wish to do ?)
for that is THEIR night to remember !