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Category: RAN WW2/Hobart

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THREE GALLANT MEN

  • T'was August 1940 and the war was at it's height;

    • When the Hobart steamed to Berbera to prove it's 6" might.

    • We brought with us two other ships, chock full of men and stores

    • We thought right then that we were tops, we'd teach those Dago hordes.

  • English soldiers, Punjabis too, men both black and white

    • Were landed by the Hobart's crew, by day and then by night

    • Great praise was due to all boat's crews who worked so hard

    • At last we got them all ashore, their work was then to start:

  • Although the Dagos bombed us at daylight, dawn and dusk,

    • They never even hit us, as we thought they really must

    • We all admit those bombs want close, too close for us in fact

    • But Hobart's guns kept them up too high to be exact.

  • Now all the time our hopes were high, we'd got a plane or two,

    • We'd seen our soldiers go ashore, and they would fight we knew

    • From where we lay we'd seen the hills over which we knew they'd go

    • But till then we'd never guessed, oh; how could we know.

  • Way up in Margarshee our troops were sorely pressed

    • Along the coast to Zeila we had to give them best

    • Nowhere could we hold them, that fighting Dago hordes

    • Everywhere we did our bit, but all want by the board.

  • And then there came a signal, a gun was needed bad

    • A gun to stop the Dago tanks complete with sailor lads.

    • No sooner had the word gone round, than names went in galore

    • But out of these they picked just three, three men to go ashore.

  • These gallant men with gun complete were landed on the shore

    • Little did we know just then, we'd see those men no more

    • And off they went beyond those hills towards those dirty Dago scum

    • Their confidence was at it's peak, they'd put them on the run.

  • They got to their position, emplaced the gun and then

    • They wait for dawn to break, those three brave sailor man.

    • They'd placed the gun to command a pass, as they thought for the best

    • Alas for them, too close at hand was a Dago machine gun nest.

  • When dawn broke, we knew for sure they fired with unerring aim

    • Their shells among the Dagos to kill them and to maim.

    • But all the time the machine gun fire was creeping up ahead

    • The Dagos kept up firing till they knew our lads were dead.

  • "Evacuate" was signalled next, "Take off civilians first"

    • This job was done with outward calm, despite the bombs that burst

    • Again our boats were called upon to do a job of work!

    • By day by night they worked like hell, there wasn't a one that shirked.

  • Next came the soldiers, but different men they seemed

    • Nothing like those we put ashore, we remembered how they beamed

    • How they stepped ashore laughingly turned and said:

    • "We'll see you later sailor lads, when all the wops are dead".

  • They didn't know what waited them behind the hills so bare

    • Man to man they'd have held their own, but more than that was there

    • The Dagos they were three to one, and tanks they had galore

    • If you don't have arms that equal you'll never win a war.

  • Back they fought to Berbera, brave man one and all

    • British soldiers; Punjab soldiers, with their backs against the wall.

    • Gradually their ranks broke up, were scattered far and wide

    • And we picked them up along the roads, with rifles by their sides.

  • From off the desert they blindly came some more dead than alive

    • They struggled to the waters edge for drink they vainly strive

    • They even crawled on hands and knees they couldn't cry enough,

    • Considering what they'd all gone through, by gad those boys were tough.

  • We took them off the jetty, we took them off the beach

    • We took them off just every place where e'er our boats could reach

    • No preference given to black or white, to us they were soldiers all.

    • We took them to the waiting ships, then back to shore for more.

  • And there came the strugglers a ghastly sight to see

    • Who'd been wandering round the desert for days on end maybe,

    • No drink, no food, no rest, no sleep, and death so close at hand

    • And they'd kept the spark of life, Oh what a gallant band.

  • Then came the injured, with limbs so ripped and torn

    • Who never even murmured whilst from the shore they were borne

    • But how they must have suffered, only they can tell

    • Perhaps they thought how good it was to get back out of hell.

  • The Hobart stayed another day, perhaps a soul or two

    • May stagger from the desert, there might be just a few

    • Who were trying hard to reach their goal, the deep blue cooling sea,

    • Where they knew the Hobart lay at rest, and their hopes of rescue be.

  • All through the night we waited, we picked up just a few

    • And dawn came bright, and into our sight there came another two

    • We lowered a boat and took them off, my God they were a sight,

    • And we on board just thanked the Lord we'd waited another night.

  • And came the order to haul up boats and wait,

    • While glasses searched the shore again before it was too late

    • But not a soul there could we see, we'd done our best for them

    • So the Captain gave the order "Train the guns on Berbera men".

  • From where we lay at anchor we picked out spots ashore

    • We blasted buildings out of sight, by God our guns did roar

    • We razed the town to ruins, a shambling burning pile

    • So when the Dagos get there they won't live there awhile.

  • We steamed out down along the coast, our glasses on the shore,

    • Perhaps we'd see a straggler, but our lookouts saw no more

    • So we turned to seaward our hearts as heavy as lead

    • We lost three pals at Berbara, three gallant lads were dead.

  • We don't forget them on our ship, they gave their lives 'tis true

    • They left behind a memory they fought for me and you

    • All three men were single, so how proud their folks will be

    • In years to come, as they speak of their Son as one of The Gallant Three.

Found amongst the effects of 'Wombat' - Frank Sutton - who was serving aboard Hobart during the Berbera evacuation. He recorded events and feelings for the ship's Newsletter. Note: The Hobart gunners were not killed. Months later all three were released unscathed when an Italian POW camp was captured.

WAR AND HOW !

  • In September Nineteen Thirty Nine,

    • The outbreak of the war

    • A Sunday bright and fine

    • All leave expired.... Ashore.

  • At first the worst was Home Defence,

    • The Fleet in calling distance;

    • But "U boats" getting more intense

    • Called for our assistance.

  • The Sydney Heads we left behind,

    • And swung off to the north.

    • Some enemy ships we hope to find

    • The Hobart sallied forth.

  • At Darwin we spent half a day,

    • The town we never saw.

    • With fuel to see us on our way

    • We left for.... Singapore.

  • The ship's a breeding ground for mumps,

    • Caused ample discontent.

    • Faces swelled with ugly lumps,

    • and this is what it meant.

  • Singapore we never saw,

    • Because of quarantine.

    • To enable us to drink ashore,

    • They made a wet canteen.

  • Accompanied by "Birmingham"

    • We patrolled Sumatra's' coast.

    • Our plane met with disaster

    • And shattered all our boasts.

  • On returning to the airport,

    • We traded in our plane.

    • The old one ditched, a new one bought

    • We off to sea again.

  • As escort to the "Eagle",

    • An afrcraft carrying ship.

    • We led her to Colombo

    • A twenty-six knot trip.

  • Colombo's Rickshaw army

    • Four miles a rupee note.

    • They fairly drove us barmy

    • When we stepped off the boat.

  • After several days of leave

    • Our rupees all but spent,

    • Other places to perceive

    • A-way to sea we went.

  • We1d only been at sea a day

    • Then came an S.O.S.

    • We opened throttles all the way

    • The "Lieth" was in distress.

  • Soon the location found,

    • But not a distressed ship.

    • The helmsman turned the ship around

    • And continued with the trip.

  • We reached Bombay on Saturday,

    • The forenoon watch below.

    • And when the ship had ceased to stray

    • We let the anchor go.

  • We found this city of Bombay

    • An ideal place for leisure.

    • With modern customs of today

    • And houses built for pleasure.

  • The beat idea that did appear

    • Was leave for recreation.

    • The landing party packed their gear:

    • Four days of relaxation.

  • A taxi to Beach Candy  

    • For swimming we would go,

    • A glass or two of shandy

    • Then dance or picture show.

  • The shops they did a roaring trade

    • With sailors from the seas.

    • Rings inlaid with precious jade

    • For just a few rupees.

  • We lay in harbour for a week

    • Then on patrol again

    • The enemy we went to seek

    • Retiring all in vain.

  • But our return was not to stay

    • Of that there was no doubt.

    • The following day we pushed away

    • To take a troopship out.

  • The S.S.Akbar was the ship,

    • Indian troops her freight.

    • As far as Aden was the trip,

    • Four thousand tons her weight.

  • From dawn of day til sun did set

    • We gave her our protection.

    • A ship the Germans didn't get

    • To add to their collection.

  • And when with them we had to part,

    • Those India-n Soldiers fine.

    • They cheered us with an open heart,

    • As our band played "Auld Lang Syne".

  • We cruised about the sea that night

    • Just steaming round and round.

    • Next day the "Ettrick" came in sight

    • And we were Bombay bound.

  • Again in port to stay the night

    • And to set sail next day.

    • The news received was far from bright

    • A shipmate passed away.

  • At church our prayers were sent

    • For the man whose life had ceased.

    • His time on earth now spent

    • May he rest his soul in peace.

  • Now "Shifty" was our barber

    • A hearty chap was he

    • A seaman Petty-Officer

    • A worthy man at sea.

  • It was Sunday we were well at sea

    • With ships that numbered ten

    • Steaming Aden bound were we

    • With a crew of homesick men.

  • The fifth day of our Aden run,

    • A tanker hove in sight.

    • A British ship with covered gun

    • In wartime is not right.

  • Abreast of her the Captain roared

    • "Man where's your common sense,

    • To cover up that gun aboard;

    • Your one line of defence.

  • The convoy we were due to leave

    • Our turning point at hand.

    • With other; duties to achieve

    • And plenty in demand.

  • The fifteenth of December fell

    • And so the proud display.

    • With band in patriotic swell

    • We steamed Colombo way.

  • After five days steaming steady

    • In Colombo we arrived,

    • For leave the men were ready.

    • To drink and be revived.

  • Yes! all-night leave was granted

    • The first lot of its kind.

    • We had the fun we wanted

    • With the beer we didn't mind.

  • Two days harbour then to sea,

    • For gunnery exercises

    • Then for Malacca Straits to be

    • Escort for Indo-Chinese soldiers.

  • Christmas day on the ocean wave,

    • With duck of the Navy pattern,

    • Unstrained ale they freely gave

    • And duff to make us fatten.

  • With cruiser "Suffren" of proud France

    • And Convoy of the same.

    • We took position just advance

    • Proceeding back again.

  • So to Colombo we returned

    • Our oil fuel fairly spent.

    • There tied up to the buoy

    • Was the heavy cruiser "Kent".

  • Two days in with leave ashore

    • Where kegs of beer were dripping,

    • Then out again to do some more

    • For unprotected shipping.

  • Nineteen-thirty-nine went by

    • The New-Year took its place.

    • The ringing bells did not apply

    • Nor spliced we the old main brace.

  • The aircraft carrier "Glorious"

    • Her planes all roaring round.

    • An impression so victorious

    • The fleet-Air-Arm renowned.

  • With Cape of Guardafuiai near

    • Our journey half complete,

    • We swing around and reappear

    • Making our retreat.

  • After four long days and nights

    • Of tiresome weary watches.

    • We saw Colombo's lights again

    • And beer and whiskey scotches.

  • Taxi tours and picture shows,

    • Swimming baths and dances.

    • The dives and dens a sailor sees

    • In any place that chances.

  • The money soon was almost spent,

    • An ending to a spree.

    • On hands and knees aboard we went

    • And sobered up at sea.

  • Eastward to Malacca straits

    • To shadow ships of commerce

    • That carry war material freights

    • The Merchant-Navy's premise.

  • Working in the tropics,

    • Practising a shoot.

    • With the "Eagle" and the "Sussex"

    • Warships of repute.

  • Three days on the watery waste

    • Then a week of harbour free.

    • With provisions and oil replaced

    • We sailed.... for Trincom-alee

  • In Trinco there did once belong

    • A big Dutch population.

    • This little town in East Ceylon

    • Is now a Naval station.

  • Our stay was brief but long enough

    • As Trinco. is no heaven.

    • The A.I.F. were on their way

    • And this convoy we were given.

  • The "Empress of Japan", 

    • and old " Canadian Pacific"

    • The "Orcades" and "Orion",

    • "Otranto" so terrific.

  • The "Empress of Canada"

    • With "Orford" in her wake.

    • "Strathaird" and "Strathmore"

    • Ships of modern make.

  • "Sobieski", Rangitata"

    • With "Dunera" in the story.

    • Like the relic of a crater

    • Was the "Athos" in her glory.

  • Steaming in formation,

    • With convoy heavy-laden.

    • Red Sea our destination

    • Refuelling ship at Aden.

  • Battleship "Ramillies" together

    • With "Andes" clean and free

    • We were making easy weather

    • Across the Arabian Sea.

  • Colombo after twenty days

    • Of scran to make us heave.

    • And then the old Commander says

    • "Forty-eight hours of leave".

  • You'll find it's true in what they say

    • A phrase we all enjoy.

    • Excessive work and little play

    • Makes Jack the dullest boy.

  • Our next trip found us due south-east

    • To a position not afar.

    • Our boundary line had been increased

    • To the isles of Nicobar.

  • Returning at a crawling speed

    • With gunboats two in number.

    • For Trinco we were to proceed,

    • The sardines to Colombo.

  • When ship had fuelled at China Bay

    • For Bengal Bay we sailed.

    • Escorting "Eagle" all the way

    • Ensuring nothing failed.

  • The journey went without even

    • A four day trip return.

    • Four days in Colombo spent

    • A fortnight's pay to earn.

  • So to sea to see the sea

    • Bengal Bay again.

    • There we found the job to be

    • Escort to a sweeper train.

  • Four minesweepers strung astern

    • One behind the other.

    • And so we made our slow return

    • Like chickens with a mother.

  • Colombo March the twenty third

    • Awaiting further orders

    • Our homeward trip still un-referred

    • Though buzzes were aboard us.

Anonymous (anyone know the author?), but preserved by Syd Clark who also made sailor's uniforms on board HMAS Hobart with his sewing machine, as well as checked & taught use of amphibian's radio gearů

 

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