The Veteran Warrior

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I was born at a time of darkness, war had reached your home,
And when my sturdy keel was laid, Great Britain stood alone,
Hasty hands built up my hull there was worry in every face,
And yet, though I was quickly built, men much admired my grace.

Came the day the work was done, and I slid down the ramp,
It was a cold and misty morning and everything was damp,
No flags were waived no champagne broke and no one gave a clap
Just tired ship yard workers but, one did raise his cap,
A fussy little steam tug put me beside the quay,
My timbers gently creaking to their first taste of the sea.

The Royal Navy came aboard l bristled soon with guns,
Torpedoes stored in lethal tubes, and a crew of Briton’s Sons,
And so, my friend, I went to war and fought with all my might,
To keep the evil foe at bay and Briton from her plight.

I remember on a stormy night in the grey and cold North Sea
When I came across three E boats, sunk two whilst one did flee,
I remember too another night when escort was my roll,
That sad torpedoed tanker blazing out it’s soul,
Those oil soaked seamen swimming through the murky black,
And how they cheered to see me as I gave them their lives back,
Oh yes my friend, I could go on with stories of that time,
Enough to say I fought my way and gave you of my prime.

Peace time came with victory, for me, a quieter roll,
How proudly sailed this warrior on my first peacetime patrol,
As time passed by those Public Men who by their talk cause war,
Now claimed to have to many ships and needed us no more,
So I and others like me were soon the first to go,
Sent up to inland waters where the salt sea could not flow.

Tied together fore and aft we who were your pride,
Were left, to rot, in lonely shame, in waters with no tide,
For many years I lay like this and no one cared a jot,
Until my once proud timbers were cancerous with rot,
Then came new men from naval yards to strip me of my guns,
Remove my engines, my very soul, these new style British sons.

A once proud vessel, ship of war, a hulk they called me now,
A sea cadets base for new young men who cared not why nor how,
In shallow water I did lay near the centre of a city,
People passed me every day, alas not one, showed pity,
Then even those sea cadets ceased to care and I went up for sale,
But no one came to buy me or learn my once proud tale.

And so my friend my life did end, burnt to salvage my copper,
For a Veteran Warrior such as I, this death, it was not proper.

By Michael Gouland

 

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