If ever there were two sister services the Royal Canadian Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard would be those two. This poem was submitted by a new found friend, Jim McAllister formerly of the RCN and it is an honor and a privilege to reprint it here.
THE BOYS IN NAVY BLUE
1939-45 Author Unknown
Who are these boys in Navy Blue,
This rough, unruly, noisy crew
That sing and shout, so late at night,
That get so drunk they're like a blight.
Who are these men? The scum of earth.
What do they do? What are they worth?
They walk the streets in fours and fives
Hunting pubs and lower dives.
I'll tell you about these boys in blue
Where they come from, what they do.
I'll tell you their story, then you shall judge
If you have a right their fun to judge.
These lads have homes just like you,
Somewhere they have loved ones too.
They left their home, not just for fun
But saw their duty, there was work to be done
When war came to our fair land,
They loved as a country grand,
And knew the sea could be the way
To bring our country peace one day.
This land of ours seemed so secure,
The army, the air-force here for sure.
But these lads sail the ocean deep
For days on end and seldom sleep.
Civilian, Soldiers, and Airmen too,
Have you ever thought what it would mean to you
If necessities like food and planes
Could not come through the shipping lanes?
These men knew this, and donning blue
Their thoughts were of their country and you.
For they knew the Navy had no back door,
They knew the hazards twixt shore and shore.
So these lads sail the ocean wave,
Knowing full well it may be their grave.
A ceaseless vigil they ever keep
Hunting marauders that lurk in the deep.
On steams a convoy, slow and grand
A thousand miles from any land
And around her sails, like greyhounds lean,
The ocean escort, alert and keen.
And then comes the time of day,
When all looks dismal, cold and grey,
Which heralds the approaching night
When eyes start straining and never grow tight.
The men then straighten at the posts
Dim shapes hovering there like ghosts.
And in the silence they often pray,
That God will grant them another day.
For this half light, preceding night
Aids the foe in this great fight.
Their wolf packs may lie in wait
To vent their malicious hate.
The minutes pass, then there's a stir
A voice says quietly "a contact, Sir"
A sigh goes round, but not of fear.
The enemy is creeping near.
An ocean greyhound leaps away,
Searching for the slinking prey.
Charges thunder through the nite
Churning the sea to a milky white.
And then far over, a roar, a flash,
Shows there's many a foe to thrash.
For there is a crippled merchant vessel
Drops back, her crew with life boats wrestle.
The fight is on and things look grim
Still charges roar and guns are trim.
Each man's eyes piercing through the night
Searching for the foe they long to fight.
At last, look there, up from the sea,
A huge black form is blasted free
There's a roar of guns and a render of steel
As the enemy U-Boat is seen to reel.
She trembles, then breaking
Slides down out of sight
Taking her crew to eternal night.
But for those who sunk her
It's just begun
There are more yet,
The fight is not done.
So the long night drags away
Until at last it is break of day,
When all is peaceful and the sea looks serene.
Only these boys know what it has been.
Faces all black but still able to smile
They plop on the deck where they stood for a while
To check, check again
The forty odd ships,
They may have lost two
Not bad, considering the night they went through.
Men are killed and injured
All part of the cause.
It's small to think
Of what the enemy lost.
A U-Boat lost by the foe
It may be weeks before they will know.
Meanwhile, a gap in the forces is made
A submarine sceptre has been layed.
So these men live for two weeks or three
On that slim little island out to sea
With never a comfort, just cold and damp
Each man be-whiskered, each man like a tramp.
And often as well the fresh food runs short
As they search around still days from port.
At such times as these they must make out
On hard biscuits and cocoa or do without.
Now maybe some of you people will see
These lads are not like you or me
Whenever in port they must let go
Whatever their impulse, it's not just show.
So people of Canada who will be free
As long as the Navy rules the sea
Thank God, these, though noisy true,
When war came, chose the Navy Blue!