Poem Board



They did not man the bombers that rendered cities dead,
Or hurricanes and spitfires in dogfights overhead,
Nor fight the war as infantry pushing at the front,
Or as marine commandoes or paratroops that jump.

They did not form in ranks, divisions or platoons,
Or march along to `eyes right` with regimental tunes,
Civilian crews of seamen sailed to do their bit,
On coastal runs or convoys until their ship was hit,

A kitbag on the shoulder after travelling on the bus,
They stepped aboard a gangway with the minimum of fuss.
There was little recognition for men that risked their lives,
But heroes just the same as in trenches or the skies.

They sailed away on oceans with a puny little gun,
To face the lethal U-Boats sent out by the Hun,
They brought the cargoes home then returned for more,
Flying our red ensign all throughout the war.


Joe Earl


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On Poppy Day

On Poppy day I march again,
In wind or shine, sometimes rain,
For those who went and fought in wars,
Then gave their lives for some just cause.

Perhaps they fell in foreign lands,
Or lost at sea with all hands,
Each one answered freedom’s call,
Remember them - God bless `em all.

In silence then I blink my tears,
Side by side with medalled peers,
A surge of tribute uppermost,
At the sounding of `Last Post`.

On Poppy day we march again,
Stepping out to band’s refrain,
Veteran`s bearing justly proud,
Passing by the loyal crowd.


We at Tregenna have full permission to use the works of Captain Joe Earl in tribute, we ask that you respect this work and contact us at Her Name Was SS. If you wish to reproduce any of the same, we will contact Joe on your behalf and request permission for you: hernamewas.ss@tiscali.co.uk


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`Twas in the Indian Ocean in nineteen twenty-three,
The Trevessa perished by the head in a raging sea,
Loaded in Port Pirie her cargo heavy zinc,
Bound in time for Antwerp until about to sink,
The heaving seas were flooding in, the vessel taking water,
In the hold, the concentrates like wet cement or mortar,
Pumps there could not handle it, as bilges could not drain,
Engineers tried everything but toiled and fought in vain.
Abandoning Trevessa in the early hours of morn,
Shocked by her quick foundering soon after in the storm,
Embarking in two lifeboats the crew of forty-four,
Commenced upon their voyages of epic ocean lore,
The wooden craft were clinker built, eight foot beam and strong,
A single mast with lugsail and twenty-six feet long,
The Mate in charge of one boat cast off to sail and row,
Westward to Mauritius - two thousand miles to go.
The Old Man took the other one to find Rodriguez Isle,
Mostly in good spirits in Merchant navy style,
They tried to sail together but after six rough days,
The Mate’s boat proved the slower so went their separate ways,
Keeping up the headway, they pulled at times with oars,
Ignoring painful sunburn and agonising sores,
They lived on basic rations, doled out with discipline,
Plus cigarettes with matches and baccy in a tin.
The seventeenth day in the Old Man`s boat saw two men pass away,
Nine succumbed in the other one by exposure cold and spray,
Though four of them delirious carried out self-slaughter,
By ignoring well known orders and drinking of salt water,
Captain Cecil Foster had braved the first World War,
Knew how to stock the lifeboats as he’d been sunk before,
Stowing extra water and tins of milk condensed,
Along with hard ship’s biscuits carefully dispensed.
Experience and foresight served them very well,
He’d saved the lives of many with now a tale to tell,
Of surviving heavy seas, trying to steer a course,
Through extremes of weather and latitudes of Horse,
Days then weeks were counted, declining all the while,
`Till navigating coral reefs off Rodriguez Isle,
Mauritius bound, the Mate’s crew, later made landfall,
Carried then ashore - for they could not walk at all.

 © Captain Joe Earl


The zinc concentrates were loaded in the form of a kind of slime which water could not percolate. The sounding rod could not detect water in the holds nor could the bilge pumps reach it. Engineers started to cut off the heads of the rivets in the collision bulkhead to allow the water to escape into the forepeak where the pumps could reach it. However, the bulkhead began to bulge and crack and they were forced to give up the attempt.

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A Galley Boy named Raymond Steed joined the `Empire Morn`,
At the docks in Newport, close where he was born,
In The Merchant Navy now - but only just fourteen,
He'd gone to sail in convoys - fighting fit and keen.

Nineteen forty three it was, aggression in full flow,
Unmindful of the danger, he couldn't wait to go,
Ray carried out his duties, earning meagre pay,
Until alas in April, his world was blown away.

Not far off Casablanca, the `Empire` struck a mine,
Laid there by a U-Boat with purpose and design,
The consequent explosion, set cargo blasting then,
Killing brave young Raymond and twenty other men.

His body’s in Morocco, near the road to Marrakesh,
In a nurtured cemetery surroundings trim and fresh,
He was the youngest Seaman, to go and lose his life,
While standing firm in jeopardy mid the wartime strife.

Greater than five hundred boys, were sent to Neptune’s floor,
Sixteenth birthdays never met, lost for evermore,
They helped sustain our lifelines in a hostile time at sea,
Those young and unsung heroes that sailed for you and me.


© Captain Joe Earl

Mr Billy McGee contacted Capt. Joe Earl, a retired Master and poet (The Men Who Missed the Tide and  and asked if he would write a poem about Raymond.


A Galley boy Named Raymond Steed

The CWGC registers the names of 513 Merchant Seamen aged 14 to 16 who died between 1939-1945. The youngest known recorded Second World War service death being that of: STEED, Galley Boy, RAYMOND VICTOR, S.S. "Empire Morn" (Barrow-in-Furness).

Merchant Navy,  killed 26th April 1943 after his ship hit a mine.

Age 14. Son of Wilfed & Olive Steed (nee Bright) of 20 Christchurch Road, Newport, Monmouthshire.

Buried Ben M'Sik Cemetery. Plot 59A. Row 1. Grave 1


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They Bore the Brunt


They sailed the seas to bear the brunt,
They steamed the courses laid,
Ten thousand miles their battle front,
Unbacked and undismayed.

Fine seamen these of our great race,
From your seaport or town,
They risked their lives with danger faced
Until their ship went down.

Remember them - they held the line,
Won freedom on the way,
Remember them - their life was thine -
On merchant navy day.


Joe Earl

© Captain Joe Earl


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MERCHANT NAVY DAY - September 3rd


Take a little care this day and glance above the tiles,

Perchance to see a flagpole visible for miles,

Atop of it a red flag proudly whipping tight,

A Merchant Navy ensign flying there by right.


From important buildings as well as from the sea.

It’s flown to honour mariners and shipping history,

Sailing through the years, transporting all the freight,

Conserving of the lifelines keeping Britain great.


If you glance aloft and see with knowing eye,

A `duster` at the masthead when you're passing by,

Please inform your offspring while going on to say,

A debt is owed to seamen under colours flown today.




Joe Earl

© Captain Joe Earl


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The Wreck Of The "Julie Plante"


On wan dark night on Lac St. Pierre,
De win' she blow, blow, blow,
An' de crew of de wood scow "Julie Plante"
Got scar't an' run below--
For de win' she blow lak hurricane;
Bimeby she blow some more,
An' de scow bus' up on Lac St. Pierre
Wan arpent from de shore.

De captinne walk on de fronte deck,
An' walk de him' deck too--
He call de crew from up de hole,
He call de cook also.
De cook she's name was Rosie,
She come from Montreal,
Was chambre maid on lumber barge,
On de Grande Lachine Canal.

De win' she blow from nor'-eas'-wes',--
De sout' win' she blow too,
Wen Rosie cry, "Mon cher captinne,
Mon cher, w'at I shall do?"
Den de captinne t'row de big ankerre,
But still de scow she dreef,
De crew he can't pass on de shore,
Becos he los' hees skeef.

De night was dark lak wan black cat,
De wave run high an' fas',
Wen de captinne tak' de Rosie girl
An' tie her to de mas'.
Den he also tak' de life preserve,
An' jomp off on de lak',
An' say, "Good-by, ma Rosie dear,
I go down for your sak'."

Nex' morning very early
'Bout ha'f-pas' two--t'ree--four--
De captinne--scow--an' de poor Rosie
Was corpses on de shore.
For de win' she blow lak' hurricane,
Bimeby she blow some more,
An' de scow, bus' up on Lac St. Pierre,
Wan arpent from de shore.


Now all good wood scow sailor man
Tak' warning by dat storm
An' go an' marry some nice French girl
An' live on wan beeg farm.
De win' can blow lak' hurricane
An' s'pose she blow some more,
You can't get drown on Lac St. Pierre
So long you stay on shore.


William H. Drummond


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Why do you march, old man,
with medals on your chest?
Why do you grieve, old man,
for friends long laid to rest?
Why do your eyes still gleam, old man,
when you hear the bugle’s cry?
Tell me, why do you cry, old man,
for those days so long ago?


I’ll tell you why I march, young man,
with medals on my chest.
I’ll tell you why I grieve, young man,
for those that in the cold cruel seas do rest.


Through misty seas of gossamer silk
come visions of distant times,
When the boys of tender age
sailed forth to distant climes.


We buried them in a seaman’s shroud,
their young flesh scorched and blackened;
Blood-stained sea, their communal grave-
even a headstone lacking


And you ask me why I march, young man;
I march to remind you all
That but for those bygone youths,
you would never have know freedom at all.



Mrs Bette Pim

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Barry Dock was opened in eighteen eighty nine,
Crucial was the need, at that specific time,
Exporting coal most everywhere, Barry had no peer,
Exceeding even Cardiff, along the coast near here.


From pits within the valleys, the black stuff rumbled down,
By railway through to Cadoxton and on to Barry town,
The owners sent the captains with their empty ships,
To load these bulky cargos, underneath the tips.


The collier pumped out ballast and gangway put ashore,
Then took on her freight, with a dusty crashing roar,
One by one the coal trucks were emptied down the chute,
While hard men trimmed the vessel and cargo holds to suit.


Finished off and loaded, the Mate would note her draught,
The crew turned-to, washing down, hosing fore and aft,
Shifted to a lay-by berth or mooring side by side,
Battened down and ready, to sail the ocean wide.


Agents and the chandlers, seen bustling back and fore,
Across the dock, the boatmen, sculling with an oar,
Tugs hooted out their signals towing craft about,
Most sailing or arriving until the tide ran out. 


Time maybe for a pint or two in the old `Chain Locker`,
With a tattooed shipmate, or local friendly docker,
Twice a day locks were manned, around high-water mark,
Pilots sent to waiting ships, ready to embark.


It wasn’t just the coal cargoes that made the place well known,
A fine repair and dry dock was famous on its own,
Grain mills and a cold store stood nearby on the land,
Ammunition loaded, fire brigade on hand.


Vessels moored at anchor, from Breaksea Point to Sully,
Till summoned by the Dock Master always in a hurry,
The Port was home for many ships travelling blue highways,
And the best of Merchant Seamen, in those yesterdays.

Joe Earl

Captain Joe Earl has kindly penned the above poem, “Barry Dock – Loading Coal”. This is welcomed by all at “Tregenna” and we will ensure that the words are received officially by the Town and residents of Barry.
If by chance you wish to copy this featured poem, please advise us of your intent: hernamewas.ss@googlemail.com

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Many Barry seamen, during world war two,
Lost their lives on colliers but hardly given due,
Mostly served as firemen down the engine room,
Along with hardy stokers and trimmers in the gloom.


In dungarees and singlet they toiled there in the heat,
Well below the waterline to a rolling beat,
They did not have much prospect, working there below,
When a U-boat shot his tin-fish and set the ship aglow.


If perhaps they made it and scrambled up on deck,
Wearing gear I mentioned and sweat rag round the neck,
They faced the cold Atlantic, storms, or raging fires,
Perchance to gain a lifeboat afore the ship expires.


Even then, against the odds, if rescue’s carried out,
Pay was stopped without delay leaving kin with now`t,
They were unsung heroes and defence was mighty thin,
Waiting for a big bang, and plates to crumple in.


Per head of population Barry lost the most,
Of hardy merchant seamen from around our coast,
In Holton Road a monument, stands for all to see,
A tribute to those brave men who sailed to keep us free.

Joe Earl

Captain Joe Earl has kindly penned the above poem, “Barry Seamen”. This is welcomed by all at “Tregenna” and we will ensure that the words are received officially by the Town and residents of Barry.

If by chance you wish to copy this featured poem, please advise us of your intent: hernamewas.ss@googlemail.com



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Cheers to the pleasure steamer – popular and fast,
With a jaunty rake of funnel and bunting from the mast,
Paddles swooshing easily foaming as they churn,
Leaving wake – ruler straight, trailing there astern.

Her glossy shining paintwork of red and pearly white,
Flying proud the ensign on halyard whipping tight,
The cheering of the passengers leaning on the rail,
And jingle of the telegraph when about to sail.

The fascinating engines steaming hell for leather,
Captain's orders from the bridge open to the weather,
Called upon in wartime years for such sterling work,
Plus helping out the Navy and Army at Dunkirk.

One such vessel of renown was the P.S. Barry,
Famous in the Great War for troops she had to carry,
Outstanding in Gallipoli and last from Suvla Bay,
Serving at Salonika toiled in danger's way.

She was built upon the Clyde one hundred years ago,
Excursion fit for passengers on deck and down below,
Registered in Barry - in her early years,
Calling in the Channel ports mooring at the piers.

Ilfracombe or Weston, down to old Minehead,
Burnham and the Mumbles - then home in time for bed,
She gave so many people, hours of bracing pleasure,
Merrymaking families enjoying days to treasure.

Later on in `twenty-six she worked our southern climes,
Sailing out of Brighton and Hastings many times,
Then sweeping mines in `forty-one on a fatal run,
She perished in the North Sea, sunk there by the Hun.

It's right recalling history of South Wales long ago,
Of local crew and seamen sailing to and fro,
For they worked the paddle steamers giving them their power,
In our favorite waters – from Bristol to the Gower.

The Paddle Steamer Barry was built for the Barry Railway Company's
fleet and sailed on May 24, 1907, before leaving the Clyde to begin
her pleasure steamer career from Barry and the Bristol Channel.


J.S.Earl. Bristol M.N.A.
Joe was born in Sheffield in 1941. He left home at the age of 14 to attend the training ship `Indefatigable` in Anglesey, after almost two years there, he went to sea as Deck Boy in the Merchant Navy. He later obtained his Master's certificate and commanded ten ships during his career including five years as Captain of the Bristol Steam Navigation's `MV Apollo`. After being made redundant in 1991 he became a Tug Master working out of Avonmouth and Portbury until taking early retirement in October 2000. He now lives in Sand Bay, Weston-Super-Mare.

Joe has kindly penned tributes to both the SS. Tregenna and Daybreak and a collection of work's to commemorate and remember.  We are proud to be associated and honoured to be allowed to use such material in our tribute.

Thank you Joe. Forever in your debt.


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A Merchant Seaman


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.


The British Merchant Navy
Looking for old friends

Thanks to Brian Probetts, Host.


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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 Uboats 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.




By David Partridge, Botany Bay, Australia.



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Convoys By Joe Earl (c)


Our lads that sailed in convoys – officers and ranks,
Deserve a special mention and our heartfelt thanks,
Most vessels were quite sound – manned by crews well trained,
Others were the opposite, most scrap and rusty stained.


These doughty merchant seamen knew their cruel fate,
When struck by cunning sea wolves lurking there in wait,
If they lived to tell the story and strived to stay afloat,
They struggled then with hardships aboard an open boat.


Still they served our country sailing there and back,
Hauling vital cargoes in times that looked so black,
A dangerous job in peacetime they continued just the same,
During war at sea my friends – through the shock and flame.


Course it was the ammo ships that were blown to smithereens,
While plodding past the periscopes of hidden submarines,
Also on the tankers - one hardly had a chance,
When spotted by the enemy re-armed out of France.


The mines were pretty lethal, lurking God knows where,
Happenchance to strike one – turmoil then and there,
The bombers stretched to reach `em had a bit of fun,
Dropping tons of dynamite against a paltry gun.


Then there was the weather, with storm and hurricanes,
Very near impossible to steer intended lanes,
Especially wild Atlantic and freezing Russian run,
Casualties horrendous `till the job was done.


There was a school of thought – to foil the U-boat ace,
Just give the Royal Air Force some extra fuel space,
In long range Liberators to patrol as ocean scout,
Instead of burning cities and knocking civvies out.


Later on this was done – though several months too late,
Condemning many cargo ships with their precious freight,
Gradually the sinkings were cut by lessons learned,
Though still appalling losses until the tide was turned.


So crucial were these convoys to the war by land and air,
There’s a mighty debt to seamen that served for us out there,
They paid the price of liberty by standing firm and fast,
And still we fly their ensign - stubborn from the mast.


Copyright © Joe Earl 2006; All Rights Reserved


The above article has been reprinted on the Her Name Was. SS. website with the kind permission of the author. This article is displayed here for free reading and viewing on this site only and at no point shall it be removed, altered or displayed elsewhere in any other format or style unless permission has been obtained from the author.  Keith, I would be pleased and honoured for you to use any of my work you see fit - thanks for asking. Good luck with your venture.

 My very best regards - Joe Earl. 10 Jul 2006.


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The Tregenna Poem By J Earl (c)


Picture yourself in a convoy on a wild September day,
Astern of a ship named Tregenna – just three cables away,
She’s steaming along at eight knots, with a cargo of steel in the hold,
Pitching heavy in head seas, into the spray and the cold.

When all of a sudden a U-boat dodging the escort screen,
Fired a salvo of tinfish, tracking through fast… unseen,
This lethal spread of torpedoes became Tregenna`s death knell,
Just as her bow descended, headlong into the swell.

It was a fatal plunge that the ship was in,
Breached below her deck-line, through the plates so thin,
Her freight stowed heavy and low, beneath an empty space,
Quickly led to foundering, when water took its place.

The ocean rushed in so quickly, leaving no time to prepare,
She dived on her nose and kept going, stern shot high in the air,
The watch on the bridge jumped clear, perchance or not to drown,
Only four abandoned her - as the ship went down.

Now you have the story when in the vessel astern,
Two minutes it took to reach there, horrified to learn,
There was no sign of Tregenna - just Atlantic waves,
Thirty three men within her, bound to deep sea graves.

Sinkings were so frequent on a convoy’s run,
But our merchant seamen still defied the Hun,
One reason why our monument stands there to remember,
Is for the likes of these men, who died here that September.

J.S.Earl Bristol M.N.A. Nov. `05


Copyright (c) Joe Earl 2006; All Rights Reserved : (Permission  sought.  KG.)


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Big Steamers

1914 - 18

Rudyard Kipling

OH, WHERE are you going to, all you Big Steamers,
    With England’s own coal, up and down the salt seas? “
“We are going to fetch you your bread and your butter,
    Your beef, pork, and mutton, eggs, apples, and cheese.”

“And where will you fetch it from, all you Big Steamers,
    And where shall I write you when you are away?”
“We fetch it from Melbourne, Quebec, and Vancouver—
    Address us at Hobart, Hong-kong, and Bombay.”

“But if anything happened to all you Big Steamers,
    And suppose you were wrecked up and down the salt sea?”
“Why, you’d have no coffee or bacon for breakfast,
    And you’d have no muffins or toast for your tea.”

“Then I’ll pray for fine weather for all you Big Steamers
    For little blue billows and breezes so soft.”
“Oh, billows and breezes don’t bother Big Steamers:
    We’re iron below and steel-rigging aloft.”

“Then I’ll build a new lighthouse for all you Big Steamers,
    With plenty wise pilots to pilot you through.”
“Oh, the Channel’s as bright as a ball-room already,
    And pilots are thicker than pilchards at Looe.”

“Then what can I do for you, all you Big Steamers,
    Oh, what can I do for your comfort and good?”
“Send out your big warships to watch your big waters,
    That no one may stop us from bringing you food.”


“For the bread that you eat and the biscuits you nibble,
    The sweets that you suck and the joints that you carve,
They are brought to you daily by all us Big Steamers—
    And if any one hinders our coming you’ll starve!”


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Psalm 23, Mariner's Version

The Lord is my Pilot


The Lord is my Pilot;
I shall not drift.
He leadeth me across the dark waters and steereth me in the deep channels.

He keepeth my Log
and guideth me by the star of holiness
for His Name's sake.

Yea, though I sail amid the thunders and tempests of life,
I shall dread no danger,
For Thou art with me;

Thy love and Thy care, they shelter me.
Thou preparest a harbour before me
in the homeland of eternity;

Thou anointest the waves with oil,
and my ship rideth calmly,

Surely sunlight and starlight shall favour me all the days of my voyaging,
and I will rest in the port of my Lord forever.


Captain J. Rogers


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'In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row...'

The First World War finally ended after four long and bloody years of fighting, on November 11 1918. The guns stopped on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

November 11 was chosen back in 1919 as the special day each year when we would all think about and remember those who had died. To this day, almost 100 years later, at 11am on November 11 many people across Britain stay silent for two minutes to think about those who died.

A doctor called John McCrea, who was working to help soldiers in France, wrote a poem in 1915 about the poppies growing on the graves of dead soldiers.


In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
Flanders' fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
Flanders' Fields.


John McCrae, 1915.
Millions of people were killed in the war and millions more were injured. In the years since 1918, even more people have died in wars around the world including, of course, World War Two.
In part because of the poem's popularity, the poppy was adopted as the Flower of Remembrance for the war dead of Britain, France, the United States, Canada and other Commonwealth countries.


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Song of the Merchant Navy in Wartime   

You have seen him on the Street,
Rolling round on drunken feet,
You have seen him clutch the lamp-post for support,
You have shuddered in disgust,
When he’s grovelled in the dust,
‘Cause he’s just a Merchant Seaman back in port.

You have seen his ship in port,
When to his sweetheart paying court,
You have seen him, when his ship is on the spree,
But you have not seen the clip,
Of that lonely ‘blacked out’ ship,
Ploughing furrows through the mine infested sea.

He has brought your wounded home, through the “ Sub “, congested zone,
He has carried your troops across the sea by night,
He’s a hero and a sport,
And when he is not in port,
He is always in the thickest of the fight.

He has fought your wicked ‘Hun’,
With just a 4: 7 inch gun,
He has ruined Hitler’s Atllantic Ocean plan,
But when he is back in port,
He’s no hero, he’s no sport,
He is nothing……..but a drunken Sailorman.




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The Sailors Requiem

There are no roses on sailor’s graves,

Nor wreaths upon the storm tossed waves,

No last post from the Royals band,

So far away from their native land,

No heartbroken words carved on stone,

Just shipmates bodies there alone,

The only tributes are the seagull’s sweeps,

And the teardrop when a loved one weeps





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What  is Dying?


A ship sails and I stand

Watching till she fades on the

horizon, and someone at my side says

“she is gone”. Gone where ?

Gone from my sight, that is all.

She is just as large as when I saw her

The diminished size and total loss of sight

is in me, not her,

and just at that moment when

Someone at my side says “she is gone”

there are others who are watching her coming,

and other voices take up a glad shout

“there she comes”

and that is dying.


Bishop Brent.


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