Fighting Through Podcast WW2 Dunkirk and D-Day WWII 8 Margaret Jones 1940 cropped monolow res

The stories behind the story

Great, unpublished

history!

Facebook for FightingThrough podcast Twitter for FightingThrough podcast Pinterest for FightingThrough podcast envelope WW2 themed periscope scopes Back to page 2

Podcast 8 - D-Day the Poem! - The D-Day Poetry of CSM Douglas Gray

Back to page 1

When Company Sergeant Major Gray wasn't fighting for the Green Howards, sometime in 1944 he found time to compose some war poems:

 

D-DAY ARRIVES

 

Yes! It's four years today since we left France

In a very undignified way.

But four years has made a big difference to us

And now our debts we can pay.

 

We made a vow then, that we'd come back again

It has taken that long to get ready

But 'tis said Britain wins the last lap

And for that, we are now sitting steady.

 

We have left the shores of England behind

Said a sharp farewell to all

And the largest amphibious force in the world

Is set for the Western Wall.

 

A long time we've waited for D-Day

All preliminary work been done

And once more the task, is more than plain

Clear Europe and banish the Hun.

 

The bow of the boat is pointing due south

Our morale is high, you can bet

Though we've done it before and everyone knows

The kind of reception we'll get.

 

For guidance and safety in coming days

We pray to the unseen powers

We don't know if we're on God’s side

But we're praying that he is on ours.

 

 

 

ON THE WAY

 

In Southampton bay, at peace we lay,

On this the third of June

And to fore and aft, there are thousands of craft

We'll be heading for France very soon

 

The heart and soul of movement control

Lay in getting us down to the shore

While the organisation and administration

Is better than ever before

 

Here a Naval Commander, our welfare takes over

And gives us our landing orders

While high in the sky the RAF boys fly

And guard us from Jerry marauders

 

The vehicles are stored, the troops are on board

And the bridge orders, 'Anchors aweigh'

Then gently we glide, on the outgoing tide

To take up our place in the bay

 

Now our orders we know,

We just wait the word 'GO'

Then the world's biggest battle begins

It is not all in vain, France must live again

And the Nazis must pay for their sins

 

 

 

L.S.T. [Landing Ship Tank]

 

Who longs for the sea? I can tell you not me

My experience has not just begun

I have done many trips, on various ships

As a soldier, it isn't much fun

 

Now sailor, be frank, on a Landing Ship Tank

As far as the Tommy's concerned

Things are a bit flat, you'll agree about that

And I think something better we've earned

 

As a typical example, take this for a sample

More than five hundred people on board

The proverbial cat? There's no room to swing that.

You can't say that one lives like a Lord

 

The accommodation and bed situation

is six to one bed, Yes! it is

And the food that they rig

isn't fit for a pig

but they promise to get some that is.

 

At the signal to rally, we dash to the galley

for biscuits and bully beef stew.

Diced carrots and spuds with a dash of soap suds

and sloppy from yesterday's brew

 

At the next meal we get, the sloppy is wet

our spirits are too, but why worry?

We oft wait for hours, in hail, snow, and showers

but what of it? We ain't in a hurry

 

The NAAFI? There's none, ships library? No bon

they haven't a book in the place

Understand why I'm blue, I've nothing to do

I'd lay down, but I can't find the space

 

But we'll probably grumble, as on shores we tumble

and wish we could move in reverse

For we landing in France, and there's every chance

that conditions out there will be worse

 

The going may be tough, but we're made of the stuff

that real British Tommies are made of

Though we grumble and rile

in the true British style

there's not a damn thing we're afraid of (much)

 

So let's get at the Hun and get the job done

and get back to our loved ones at home

Let's forget about war,

Let’s have peace evermore,

so that never again need we roam

 

 

A LETTER HOME

 

Dear Mum and Dad, as you probably know

I'm in France in the fighting line.

But you've no need to worry about me at all

For I'm having a marvellous time.

 

We journey across on a Landing Ship Tank,

You know, those flat bottomed craft.

And our large sized bags vomit, were frequently used

And then thrown overboard aft.

 

About life on board, you will know quite a lot,

If you read those five verses of mine.

There's no room to move and nothing to do

I'll say, 'twas a marvellous time.

 

The landing was wet, I'll never forget

How we scrambled down ladders of rope

And there four miles out we proceeded to have

a bath, but we didn't use soap.

 

We were soaked to the skin by the time we got in

Hands and face had lost all of their grime

As we dodged shot and shell, one would think it was hell

But we thought it a marvellous time

 

Of the fighting on land I will not say a lot

I would say a bit if I could.

But as Jerry got tougher, the weather got rougher

And now the place is in flood

 

In the bottom of trench, there is mud inches thick

We just sit there and wallow in slime

We can't sleep a wink and we haven't for days

But we're having a marvellous time.

 

Our spirits are wet, clothes, blankets, you bet

But the battle goes on just the same

Each day we attack and each day we're thrown back

Then get ready to go in again

 

Still it won't be long now till the battle is won

Very soon, the sun's going to shine

In the meantime, best wishes from your only son

He's having a marvellous time!

 

D E Gray 1944

 

Back to page 3 Listen to podcast Back to page 2 Back to page 1 Back to page 3