Saturday, June 18, 2005

WWII Submarines in Verse

Crossposted by Bubblehead in Idaho from "The Stupid Shall Be Punished":

I've linked Sid Harrison's submarine page before, but it's always worth going back. Today, I was struck again by the beautiful simplicity of the words of Bob Harrison's poem, "Toll the Bell". An excerpt:

"Toll the bell, you submariners, for your brethren of the deep
Who went to sea so long ago and still their constant vigil keep.
Tell the nation who they are and where they lie beneath the sea,
Keep the faith with those brave comrades who patrol eternally...
"...Toll the bell for Shark and Grunion, gallant warriors of the sea,
Toll the bell for brave Pompano, Grenadier, and Tullibee.
Sing your praises for the Thresher, Grayling and the Amberjack,
And for all the men who perished, mothers’ sons who won’t come back..."

For some reason, this reminded me of a WWII submarine poem that the men of USS Trigger used to recite:

By Constantine Guiness, MOMM 1/C, USN

I'm the galloping ghost of the Japanese coast
You don't hear of me and my crew.
But just ask any man off the coast of Japan
If he knows of the Trigger Maru.

I look sleek and slender alongside my tender
With others like me at my side,
But we'll tell you a story of battle and glory,
As enemy waters we ride.

I've been stuck on a rock, felt the depth charge's shock,
Been north to a place called Attu,
and I've sunk me two freighters atop the equator
Hot work, but the sea was cold blue.

I've cruised close inshore and carried the war
to the Empire Island Honshu,
While they wire Yokahama I could see Fujiyama,
So I stayed, to admire the view.

When we rigged to run silently, deeply I dived,
And within me the heat was terrific.
My men pouring sweat, silent and yet
Cursed me and the whole damned Pacific.

Then destroyers came sounding and depth charges pounding
My submarine crew took the test.
Far in that far off land there are no friends on hand,
To answer a call of distress.

I was blasted and shaken (some damage I've taken),
my hull bleeds and pipe lines do, too
I've come in from out there for machinery repair,
And a rest for me and my crew.

I got by on cool nerve and in silence I served,
Though I took some hard knocks in return,
One propeller shaft sprung and my battery's done,
But the enemy ships I saw burn.

I'm the galloping ghost of the Japanese coast,
You don't hear of me and my crew.
But just ask any man off the coast of Japan,
If he knows of the Trigger Maru.

USS Trigger was lost with all hands during her twelfth patrol, on March 26, 1945. Toll the bell...

[Edited to correct the name of the owner of the website mentioned in the link at the top.]


At 9:11 PM, Blogger Vigilis said...

Most excellent! Thee can be no U.S. submarine, whatever her vintage, that served without honor and the highest tribute to her country. Here is another Bob Harrison (MoMM/2c USN) WWII commemorative: USS BLENNY SS324

You wanna hear a story, son? Well, I can tell you gosh aplenty,
But the one I like the most of all is the one about the Blenny.
Blenny was a submarine; she was launched in forty-four,
And it didn’t take ol’ Blenny long to get herself into the war.

From Groton to Pearl Harbor, then on her very first patrol
Twas then she learned some valued lessons, (a destroyer was her goal).
Torpedos fired but missed their target-what a lesson for the crew,
Then depth charges by the numbers-this was Lesson Number Two!!

With determination showing in the hearts of every man,
Blenny found and sank a sea truck and a Japanese tin can.
Next she sank a Japanese troopship, Kenzui Maru was her name,
Followed by Amato Maru-a tanker lost in smoke and flame.

Then one day there came a message from the submarine named Cod,
She needed help to find some sailors-whereabouts known but to God.
Found and rescued by the Blenny, six young sailors safe and sound,
Then a reunion with the Cod, all giving thanks that they were found.

So at last the war was ended but Blenny’s tasks had just begun,
She did her part in War Korea, a sub’s job is never done.
Faithful comrade, gallant warrior, once proud boat, ship of the line,
After years of loyal service, she retired in Sixty -Nine.

June 7, 1989

Today they buried gallant Blenny, sent her deep beneath the sea,
While her shipmates looked on sadly, brave defenders of the free.
Now she lies in gloomy silence just twelve miles off Maryland’s shore,
Noble Blenny, not forgotten, though you’ll roam the seas no more.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger bothenook said...

sid's cousin Bob was a skimmer vet from WWII that adopted a bunch of us ne'r do well bubbleheads on maritini's site shortly after it hit the internet. it was a sad day that sid announced bob's passing.


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