Thinking of my time in North Africa and of my journey on that old troopship the Empire Windrush to Egypt, and strangely my return on the same ship three years later, and how things had changed in that period of time, and the missing faces of twelve of my colleagues and friends, from the thirty two of us who left those English shores all those years before. I decided to write this poem.
We left our barracks in Woking,
thirty two young men in their prime.
on way to Southampton, and joking,
to the ship in that dockside grime.
We sailed that day for Egypt,
a destroyer our escort grey
To Western seas, which winter gripped,
to the violence of Biscay's bay.
We lined the rails in Gibraltarís dock,
seeing the navy's magnificent strength,
and guns upon that massive rock,
guard the straits entire length.
Men went ashore, along our route,
Benghazi, Tobruk and Malta,
all good friends as we said goodbye,
little knowing whose feet would falter.
<------ Three Years Go By ------>
Three years later, we all went home,
and strangely the old Windrush was used,
and as I stood at the rail, and watched the foam.
I thought of my friends so ill-used.
Three long weeks on that troopship,
we were homeward bound at last,
surrounded by staunch friendship,
which would soon be in the past.
Three long years in that desert land,
as soldiers for the king.
A rough old life in that desert sand,
and the scorpions fatal sting.
Of we thirty two who had left home,
young men in the prime of life,
only twenty of us regained the foam,
the rest were lost in strife.
But those other lads were with us,
towards the land that gave them birth.
I heard their special soldiers cuss,
and their frequent soldiers mirth.
We lined the rails before dawn that day,
for the first sign of our shore,
Was that a hill, or cloud so grey,
we all glimpsed or thought we saw.
By mid-morning, we passed hills of green,
such a change from dust and sand.
Such pleasures deep, could oh be seen,
in gazing at our land.