Charioteers of St Nazaire

by | Nov 17, 2007 | Poetry | 0 comments

When Jack was a lad of about three foot four,
He lived in a house at the edge of the moor.
The soldiers would pass by his rose-covered door,
And Granddad’s eyes twinkled at memories of yore.

“They sowjers baint sowjers as usually seen.
‘Cause all on ‘ems wearing their berets uv green,
An’ each man is part of a fightin’ machine,
As ‘ud make a King proud or, God bless ‘er, The Queen”

Jack would sit at his feet, and listen in awe,
And be told of the battles, of blood, and of gore.
Tales of marching for hours, “ ‘til me hob-nails was sore”.
And of places he’d been in the Second World War.

“I wuz wunst on a ship that snuck through the night.
To give they old Prussians an ‘eck of a fright.
We sailed up the Loire with great guns to our right
And just after one, we was caught in their sight.

We still ‘ad a mile to sail up to the dock,
Where th’Old Man would ram his ship into the lock.
Their guns opened up, you cud ‘ear me knees knock.
An’ me tabs started ringing from force of the shock.

Then Campbeltown struck with crunchin’ and gratin’
Us Commandos was off, all ready for faitin’.
For we knew, in the dark, they Prussians wuz waitin’.
As bullets all round ricocheted off the platin’.

We wuz off down that quay at a blisterin’ pace.
We’d a pump-house to find and explosives to place.
I felt like a Guy in some Bonfire-Night race
With me fizzog all black, like a chimney sweep’s face.

Then back to the boats as wuz tekkin’ us out.
But most wuz all burnin’ and no good for nowt,
An’ our rescue was lookin’ most likely in doubt.
No choice did we ‘ave but to double about.

The end of the story I tell with no shame
We wuz battered and wounded and some on us lame
Uz ammo was gone, ‘twere the end of the game.
In a cellar we ‘oled up, but captives became.

So there ends the fable of my wartime years.
Of young men who confronted their darkest of fears.
And I lift up my glass and I call for three cheers
To those proud to be known as The Charioteers”

Jack never forgot those tough soldiers he’d seen.
The Globe and the Laurel on berets of green
And for thirty-two weeks, in training he’s been
Now like Granddad before, he’s a Royal Marine.


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