BILL

One thousand miles from nowhere, a tinfish hit its mark,
Its target was a British ship which foundered in the dark,
The crew were killed or injured and could not stay afloat,
Just four of them were able to make it to a boat.

They watched their ship go down, upon a Christmas eve,
In a state of shock pondering their reprieve,
There they stayed and suffered - in tropic heat they sweltered,
Death was standing by them - no comfort and unsheltered.

They finished all the bully beef and licked the milk cans dry,
One of them had died by now as forty days went by,
The remaining three were skeletons - living, just - but weak,
When picked up by the Navy could not stand or speak.

Three weeks on, saw them home - recovered bit by bit,
Replacing all their papers and Merchant seamans kit,
One man was a mate of mine - lets just call him Bill
Id met him there when rescued and very very ill.

I thought Id go and see him - take him to a pub,
Found his home in Liverpool and thereby lies the rub,
I knocked the door - his wife came out - told me that her Bill,
Bored with life ashore - refused to bide there still.

Ten days only he was home - then he said to me,
Im signing on again Old Girl and went off back to sea.

Derived from a story told on the radio in one of the ever-memorable postscripts narrated after the B.B.C. news during 1941 by Frank Laskier - from his book of transcripts; My Name Is Frank.

Capt. Joe Earl