A Sinking

This is a loose amalgam of several old sailors ditties.
My family had many members serve in the Royal Navy in both World Wars.
Most of the tales about that time I got from old women as a child. The men rarely spoke about what they had been through.

(Men actually survived this, but not many)


U331 – Beneath the sea

Hans Diedrich gained his iron cross,
We all do what we can.
Strangers to him would face a loss:
Oh, how they’d hate this man!

Men do what they are trained to do
They do the best they may.
That periscope it showed a view
That’s with him to this day.

Three plumes of white rose up midships
Upon that close up foe.
With silent prayer upon his lips
He saw that deadly blow.

The forward tubes stood empty now
Torpedoes were away.
Hans Diedrich made a silent vow:
He’d not forget this day.

His boat had shuddered with each boom
That echoed through the hull.
And right there in that murky gloom
His brain seemed tired and dull.

Rude awakening

A lack of sleep can slow things down
Or weaken deep emotion.
As struggling men sought not to drown
Mid terror and commotion.

U331 would slink away
The battleship would sink.
That was to be a fatal day
Amid an acrid stink.

Beside the turret near the bow
Two seamen felt each blast,
They struggled to the side somehow
But she went down so fast.

Soon they were swimming in a sea
That frothed and bubbled so.
There were so few that now swam free
Most had been dragged below.

Below the sea beneath the waves
Dragged down there in their ship.
Good friends gone to their early graves,
One sailor bit his lip.

For silence seemed to settle then
The sea became quite still.
It chilled the bones of swimming men
These waves would slowly kill.

Young Frank he wore a lifebelt though
So rested for a while.
The injured first would sink below
Shock makes the soul docile.

The water was not all that cold
So Death would not come fast.
Events they could so slow unfold,
Some things seemed meant to last.

Now Frank and James they both could swim
James had no lifebelt so,
He knew his chances would be slim;
Time would drag on so slow.

Frank’s lifebelt could support these two,
Frank helped James take a rest.
It was the natural thing to do;
The sun sank to the west.

A periscope then glided past,
Some beasts await their prey.
It turned towards the north at last
Before the break of day.

Some beasts are strong and charge head on,
With guile some pull prey down.
While fishes here could feed upon
Each victim who would drown.

Yet all night long they drifted there
And all the next day too.
The weather was quite calm and fair
The sky the clearest blue.

That second night sleep nagged at them
They fought hard not to sleep.
Each star seemed like a diadem
Above the hungry deep.

Beneath their feet the fish swam by
Some gorged on human flesh.
Though neither man would choose to die
Sleep caught them in its mesh.

And James he sank below the waves
Sometime through that long night.
Sailors may go to dark deep graves,
James sank without a fight.

Deep in his sleep within a dream
He met his dead Granddad .
That old man’s face it seemed to beam,
So, James did not feel sad.

He sank there to a fateful death,
His dream made him content.
He did not struggle to take breath
And soon his life was spent.

Asleep Frank drifted on along
The currents of the sea.
His fit young body was still strong,
So, Death was not to be.

He felt a tug upon his hair
A bowman yanked his head
He was the last man rescued there
Now all the rest were dead

He puzzled at where James had gone,
James had been in his dream.
This last survivor seemed so wan
Then he began to scream.

But morphine soon made him slump down
There in the rescue boat.
It never was his fate to drown
Sobs whimpered in his throat.

That boat it rode the gentle swells
They searched for sometime more.
Long gone now were the acrid smells
That Frank had smelt before.

In future years those smells would be
With him both night and day.
A tortured soul is never free
Some things don’t go away!

Dedicated to kind old Uncle Frank

This is a part of a series of verses about the sea.


Feathers Ruffled

Some verses come to me out of the blue.
On 21 September 2001 is was sat in a falconry display on the beautiful island of Mull. I was relaxed and content. The Falconer showed us an American Bald Eagle and said: “She cannot fly as she has a damaged wing”.
This was 10 days after the attack on New York.
These verses came to me in an instant.

Feathers Ruffled

Bald eagle with a damaged wing,
Hawks guided in as planned.
We hear a carrion vulture sing
Where dead flesh is at hand.

Bald eagle has small feathers harmed,
Hawks dead upon the ground.
The vulture’s kind now cower alarmed:
The eagle makes no sound.

The vulture hides deep in a hole
From justice that is planned.
Yet, in his dark deceitful soul
He thinks he is God’s hand.

Sometime from out the sun’s stark rays
We’ll hear the vulture’s dead
And where the well-fed eaglet plays,
The ground is coloured red.

© Trevor Morgan 21 September 2001

The Curse of “Free Verse”

I have ventured to poetry classes and groups in the past.
On each occasion I have been confronted with hostility towards lyrical verse and contempt. I avoid such encounters now.
It seems to me the poetry establishment has peer reviewed itself into irrelevance.

Free Verse Curse

Who misbegot this tommyrot?
That does not beat a time.
It’s rhythmlessness so soon forgot,
This formless ooze of slime.

A falsehood that they oft propose –
They claim the name of “Poet”!
Pure tripe is all they can compose:
And deep at heart they know it.

Trevor Morgan 14 March 2015


Poetry competitions are much the same. They have been awarding prizes to short works of prose for long decades and calling the tripe poetry. After awards the winning rubbish is forgotten as it always was unworthy.

HMS Bluebell

On 17 February, as Convoy RA 64 was assembling off Murmansk, Bluebell was hit in the stern by an acoustic homing torpedo fired by U-711, which caused her depth charges to explode. She sank in less than 30 seconds at 69°24′N 33°42′E From her crew of 86 ratings and officers there was only one survivor: Albert Holmes from Southampton.


HMS Bluebell – Sunk off the Kola Inlet 17 February 1945

Rising up to seek the light,
Upward through the winter cold.
Springtime is not yet in sight,
Ah, not all things will grow old.

Plucked up when it reached full bloom,
Thrown aside – but not forgot.
Lost there in the chill and gloom,
That place now – a sacred spot.

Bluebells bless our woodland floor
In the spring foretell of peace.
Each year may there grow yet more,
Let Bluebell’s glory never cease.

In the woodlands Bluebells grow,
Growing up through winter’s cold.
How they make a glorious show
Precious more than burnished gold.

Little ship sunk in that sea
All but one went down with her.
Died to keep this old world free;
Young men die when old men err.

From: “Arctic Elegies”

School Killings



School killings are now commonplace in the USA.
I was asked recently if I was inspired to write about it. Initially I felt I could not.
Then this came to me:


Grieve and believe

You grieve and grieve and, in your mind,
You’re torn by all the strain.
You weep and weep and then you find,
That you must weep again.


The patterns that are working through
The chaos of events
They’re never really quite in view
So, nothing now makes sense.

Where killers can walk in a school
To kill with guns or knives,
We live in times of dark misrule
Where children lose their lives.

The smiles of a ‘grieving’ man,
The tears of a clown;
Now understand just what you can
Before your sun goes down.


Where lobbyists propose gun law
And shootouts where kids learn,
Then grief becomes so stark, so raw
With loss we grieve and yearn.

Our understanding’s not complete
Despite how hard we try,
Events are never really neat;
So still confused we cry.


So cry and cry until your mind
Gets some release from pain
And by and by you may soon find;
You’ll need to fight this stain.

There’s grieving caused by all this blight
With days of sad laments.
Then leaders must do what is right
Or face the consequence!


The patterns that are working through
Will lead to consequence
So now’s the time the good, the true
Must take charge of events.



© Trevor Morgan February 2018

The Public Records Office at Kew

After a ship decommissions its documents are archived.
On the Albion in 1964, I remember tying up bundles of charts and binding with a red ribbon and pouring sealing wax over the knot. All was neat and sealed and dispatched. The Log Book and Letters in Passage were similarly parcelled up and dispatched.
Recently, I wanted to look at a particular set so contacted the Public Records Office at Kew. I was told they would not be made public for 100 years!
How strange, I wonder what might be in there?


The Public Records Office at Kew

After every action then
Reports were written up.
They told of what we had done when
We’d drunk from out that cup.

Reports prepared in triplicate
Was what we used to do.
We kept the first and duplicate;
The third must go to Kew

After thirty years or so
And for true history’s sake,
They are then put on public show;
Though some may be a fake!

Now can a State so that candid
And show off all its shame?
Who needs to know all that it did?
Lies keep it safe from blame!

© Trevor Morgan 2009


The Royal Navy is an old institution and good at record keeping. Documents can be lost when a ship is destroyed in action but even then there is an attempt to save the Log Book at a very minimum.
Only one Log Book has ever gone missing and that was the Log Book of HMS Conqueror, the submarine that sank the Argentine cruiser Belgrano during the Falklands War.
That seems to have been politically convenient.

More Champers Davie Dear?

I will never be totally loyal to a political party.
Many feel our politicians in Parliament are of limited ability.
That may be the case. However politicians of the real pits operate at the level of what we call “local government”. They do not actually govern, they administer at a local level under centrally determined rules.
Some who have had no visible additional means of income seem to live quite lavish lives. I guess they must be frugal with the housekeeping…

At the time I wrote this I lived in a Labour Controlled area. I moved to a Liberal Democrat area that changed to Tory control. These verses would fit all three parties in some areas at local area.
I do not doubt there are many well run local councils and this would not apply to any of them.

A Song for Some Municipal Politicians:-

More Champers Davie Dear?
(tune: Blaydon Races)

Oh, Labour has its policies
‘bout which there is no doubt
They represent philosophies
That are turned inside out.


Oh’ do please shut the door
We want no poor in here,
They really are a chore

– More champers Davie dear?-

Yes, where we were once reputed
As champions of the poor,
That’s now been refuted
An’ we’re rotten to the core.


– More champers Cherrie dear? –

Our leader’s gone and bunked it
He’s no friend any more,
We hear he’s gone and flunked it
‘cos students must pay more.


– More champers Harriot dear? –

To him betrayal’s not a sin
And learning must be bought
While it won’t cause his ruin
Seems like he stands for nought


– More champers Flunkey dear? –

Well the poor are always with us
An’ they are such a chore.
We just can’t understand the fuss
For Poverty’s a bore!


– More champers John my dear? –

Oh, Labour has its policies
‘bout which there is no doubt
They represent philosophies
That are turned inside out


– More champers Tony dear? –


Optional verse:

There’s free booze for the elect few
Credit cards on the rates,
There’s nothing either fair or true
In Labour’s own estates.

– More champers Councillor dear? –

© Trevor Morgan 1997

Any similarity to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

Drowned Sailor

HMS Goodall was torpedoed on 29th April 1945.
Hitler was already dead and the war was lost by the Third Reich.
Goodall was sunk in the confined waters of the Kola Inlet in Russia.
She was the last Royal Navy ship lost in the war with Germany.
I really hate the submarine that did this. It was a pointless act of killing.

Drowned Sailor

Limp and lifeless drifting downward
Sinking slowly through the cold.
Washed so slowly there to landward,
He would never now grow old.

Though no more he would face fear
Back at home old folk will weep.
Blue clothes cling about him here,
Though all’s blackness in the deep.

Bubbles rising from this clothing
His warm blood is now all chill.
Drifting, sinking just a dead thing
Arctic cold was quick to kill.

Fate was sealed and death was grim
For U-boats were here about.
He’d called out as ships passed him;
Passing matelots heard him shout.

In the springtime on the shoreline
Stinking corpses marred the shore.
Arctic daytime, chilly sunshine,
Clearing up a ghastly chore.

Those the gods love they all die young.
Gods can love a ship’s whole crew.
The sailors’ hymn is often sung,
Death at sea is nothing new.

Spirits of these dear departed
Heard upon a gentle breeze,
Kin and kith are broken hearted;
Sea birds’ calls sound ill at ease.

Trevor Morgan 1999

From: “Arctic Elegies”

Talking to an old man he told me that when a submarine was detected it was immediately attacked. This would mean abandoning men in the water. He remembered one shouting “Taxi, taxi can’t anyone get a bloody taxi round here”.
That man was joking in the face of a certain and immanent death. Jack has a unique sense of humour.

The Last Witch

Churchill repealed the Witchcraft Act in 1951.
When he was returned to power in 1951 this was in his first legislative proposals. To replace the old act he introduced The Fraudulent Mediums Act.

The last trial for witchcraft in England was held at the Old Bailey in 1944. Helen Duncan was convicted after she told relatives of sailors killed when HMS Barham was sunk that they were dead and the ship was sunk. At the time the sinking of the Barham was kept an official secret and it is not clear just how Helen Duncan could have known. Some still assert that she was genuine and dead sailors’ ghosts came to her and told her of the ship’s loss.

On hearing of the trial Churchill is supposed to have said to his Home Secretary “What tomfoolery is this”!


The Southsea ‘Witch’

Speaking to women in her booth
Right there beside the shore,
Poor Helen Duncan spoke her truth;
The way she’d done before.

“Your James upon that battleship
Has died and gone to grace
I sense somehow, he lost his grip,
I see a stranger’s face.

He and your James were in the sea,
It seems their ship went down.
Dear God this surely cannot be
How can so many drown?

Why did you have to come today?
Why did I seek for you?
Oh, hear this what I have to say,
There’s nothing you can do!

Most of the Barham lads are gone,
Torpedoes sank the ship.
The visions that I gazed upon
Could make me lose my grip”

She asked the women then to leave,
She closed up for the day.
Those sights she saw then made her grieve;
Some scenes don’t go away.

Her Visions

This time those sights came from the blue,
She was not in control.
Confused she knew not what to do,
Hers was a troubled soul.

Each vivid sight each vivid smell
Tore right through her mind.
She saw those young men put through hell,
These visions were unkind.

She felt each shock she felt each pain
She felt dragged to the deep.
She felt she’d never breathe again,
She saw sad kin folk weep.

She saw herself stood in a dock,
She saw a prison yard.
Newspapers all would scoff and mock
And times they would be hard.

She thought to close down for a while,
To take a well-earned break.
Inside she’d lost the will to smile,
Her hands now seemed to shake.

Trevor Morgan 2001


My uncle Frank served on the Barham at the Battle of Matapan. He was transferred off of the ship days before her last voyage.

The Sinking was filmed by Barham’s own spotter plane that had been launched to search for submarines.
Click on link below:



How people love to rationalise.
This is usually because they are not rational.
I doubt if few of the nastiest people in history saw what they did was evil. In our minds we seem able to justify all manner of foul deeds.
We can dehumanise the other and by so doing are not troubled by the hurt we do.
Whether it is killers who kill the innocent in the name of a deity or a paedophile who believes he does no harm as he rapes a child and mar a life they are much the same. They cannot imagine the hurt felt by others.



So, in whatever way they choose
Some will wrong who they can.
For some religion’s just a ruse,
God’s claimed for acts of man.

For those who cannot empathise
Are much the same within.
For they just cannot realise
Where actions are a sin.

While their good God, they would make sad,
Where they do not relent
And claim there’s good in what is bad;
Then kill the innocent.


Should they be asked to justify
The worst things that they do,
All wickedness they would deny,
The truths beyond their view.


And so, at end the vengeful lose
All through the deeds they do.
Misused by those that they misuse
Who also sought their ‘Due’.


Through spirals then the vengeful go
With harm that never ends,
There’s but one end to all this woe,
When foes turn into friends.


© Trevor Morgan 2 February 2018


From: Tale of Aelfrede and Gudrum