(This poem was found pinned on the notice board of H.M.S. Bronington)
I once looked out from the Tamar Bridge at the warships down below,
Ships of the modern Navy, whose names I did not know.
And as I stood and gazed at them on the water far below,
I saw a fleet of phantom ships and men of long ago.
The Rodney and the Nelson, the Valiant, Ramilies,
Repulse, Renown and Malaya, coming home from foreign seas.
I saw Revenge and Warspite, the ill-fated Royal Oak,
So many ships, their names made faint by shell and fire and smoke.
And some I see to harbour come as though thro' glasses dark,
The Barham and the Glorious, the Eagle and the Ark.
And then there comes the greatest, the mighty warship Hood,
Dark and grey and wraithlike from the spot on which I stood.
The big ships and the little ships returned for me to see,
there's the Glowworm and the
Harding, the Devonshire and the Kent,
The Cossack and Courageous, the Suffolk and Ardent.
But mercifully hidden are the men and stilled their cries,
Now I can't see too clearly, must be the smoke that's in my eyes.
You don't know Shorty Hasset, he won the DSM,
He still fought on when Exeter was burning stern to stem.
Where now the Dodger Long and Lofty, where now the boys and men?
They are lost and gone forever; will we see their likes again?
I thought I saw them mustering on deck for daily prayer
and heard "For Those in Peril" rise on the evening air.
Then darker grew the picture as the lowering night came on,
I looked down from the lofty bridge but all the ships had gone.
Those mighty ships had vanished, gone too those simple men.
We'll surely never see the like of them again.
(Re-produced with kind permission of the 'The Monab Story' website)