Do you hear the sea still calling?

When the First World War started, the Brixham fishing fleet found itself depleted with sailors and fishermen called away to war. Others stayed behind, exempt so long as they carried on supplying the nation with fish. Old sea hands found themselves back out at sea with cadets and schoolboys. But there was danger, beyond the usual danger, of mines and U-boats, and snagging nets on sunken wrecks.

Do you hear the sea still calling?

Sea-dogs and cabin-lads,
Cooks and schoolboys, cadets
And old hands with tales to tell.
It’s so dark at one in the morning.
Do you hear the sea still calling?

A generation called to war,
A fleet depleted,
A country undefeated,
Patriotic employment,
U-boat periscope deployment
Seemingly without any warning,
Do you hear the sea still calling?

A metal spike broke the surface,
Gift from a silent foe this
Mechanical creature from the deep,
‘Say your prayers, lads’,
And every hand dare not breathe lest
An errant wave should draw it to the hull . . .
Detonate
Deploy
Smithereens
Heart-rates slowly falling,
Do you hear the sea still calling?

Tin fish on the high seas,
Literal minefields,
Sweepers and sleepers
Trawler nets a-haul
Souls entwined in brine
The ceaseless march of time
Trawlers keep on trawling,
Do you hear the sea still calling?