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Old 30th March 2019, 01:05
tsell tsell is offline
Organisation: Merchant Navy
Join Date: Apr 2008
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A Lad's Initiation - SS Sheaf Arrow 1950

I have posted this before - #116 Tusitala Tales 6/3/18. However, I repost it for our many new members since that time, some of whom are sure to have proudly worn the rating of Peggy... just kidding!
'Twas a dark and stormy night and the captain said to the mate... hang on, that's another story! It was dark and stormy though and I was bravely stepping out of the Galley firmly clutching the dixies containing the sailors' dinners, very, very firmly with both hands. The mantra, 'one hand for yourself and one for the ship', was furthest from my mind as my rapport in the sailors' mess, wasn't all beer and skittles.
'Never turn your back on the ocean', was another among so many things to remember - I'd forgotten that one too, so my legs were swept out from under me as I took a step aft and to sanctuary - of a sort! I never saw the dixies again!!

Big Fred Crowe from Tiger Bay, saved my life that fateful day: ( sounds like a line from a poem, eh?)



I had nothing to do for an hour or two,
so I thought I'd compose a short poem.

I would write of the sailors who taught me so well
and about the big debt that I owe 'em:

I first went to sea in a rusty old tramp,
full of thoughts and big dreams of adventure.

Signed on at the Pool by Bill Henke, the scamp
and away to my ship I did venture.

Many films had I seen of sailors so tough
on the screen, in my recent schooldays.

But I wasn't prepared - they were so bloody rough,
would I see any more my birthdays?

Soon we sailed away to the far shores of France -
it was far for me as a lad!

The excitement of landing made me piss my new pants,
if he knew, my dad would be mad!

Back at sea I worked hard and although I was sick,
they made me work harder and harder.

"Move it Peg!" they would say - Hell I can't take a trick,
it just made me get madder and madder.

Rough weather we struck in the Biscay Bay,
with sixty-foot waves high above us.

Just two thousand tons, we hardly made way
and we wondered, "Does God really love us?"

On deck, I was hit by a bloody great wave
and into the scuppers did go.

From the dark came a hand and this lad did it save...
'twas Jamaican AB - big Fred Crowe!

"It's OK me lad - grab my big black arce!"
and I flung my arms tight round his waist.

I owed my young life to big brave Fred
as he fought hard to safety in haste.

We just made it home - with a deep starboard list,
and the skipper yelled: "TO YOUR GODS PRAY!!"

We did, and ashore we all went to get pissed
and give thanks for that GLORIOUS DAY!

I signed three more times on that brave little ship,
and the sailors, they taught me so much.

Respect for the sea and the mates that you made,
in a life that most men wouldn't touch.

But the best part of all was it gave me some marrow,
as I grew from a boy to a man.

I learned to be tough and to face up to fear
and from terror, I no longer ran.

I will never forget the little "SHEAF ARROW"
as she fought through that raging great storm,

And the captain so strong, who stayed days awake,
to ensure we arrived safely home.

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