- Smith, Peter Leslie, Actg. Ldg Stoker
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1983 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
In darkness and quiet of the morning,
As the squadron steamed steadily north
The admiral signalled a warning,
That Jap warships were–sallying forth.
We knew not their size nor their number
Their speed or their object that night,
But ours was to send them down under
So we steamed to the north and to fight.
One o’clock. and “stand to” is sounded,
And the speed is increased to our best
All’s tense – scarce a whisper is heard
Till we open our fire with the rest.
Action! full hot is the pace
Guns ablaze and shells scream through the night
Each man is closed up at his place
To fight for his cause and the right.
“Leander” was pouring out shell
Her hull rocked and reeled with the blast
A round us the “Yanks” gave them hell
For they knew how to shoot and shoot fast.
The Jap guns were flashing and roaring
And some of the shells landed near,
But our broadsides we see to be scoring
We’re making them pay and pay dear.
At the height of this furious show
A terrific explosion is heard
She shudders and reels neath the blow
And seems to go dead. Scarce a word
As we help with the dead and the dying
And feel our way round in the dark.
We know by the way she’s now lying
That a “tin fish ” has made us its mark.
No words I can find or can borrow
Can tell of the thoughts in our mind
Our grief at the bloodshed, our sorrow
For messmates cannot be defined.
We’re crippled-fight, steam we’re unable
A fine sitting shot for the Jap
But the “Yanks” – or those that are able
Haul in and get on with the scrap.
Now the days of “Zeander” were over
Were it not for the boys down below
Who wouldn’t admit they were beaten
And said “we will get her to go”:
They swore and they cursed – they were weary
They prayed as they coaxed her along
But they all stuck it out and were cheery
And even spared breath for a song.
Dawn found us still limping to southward
The victors, but we’d paid a price.
Jap bases were close on our starboard
They’ll surely be here in a trice.
With eyes that were strained and were swollen
The lookouts kept scanning the sky
And the sight of our own fighter squadron
Was a sight to gladden each eye.
Twenty-eight of us paid for this glory
For them all we offer a prayer
Their names will live on in our story
Their dear ones are safe in God’s care
Their sweethearts, their wives and their mothers
We’ll care for as though they’re our own
To their menfolk – their fathers and brothers
We promise to see this job done.