We left Oran the twenty-fifth
Of November forty three
On His Majesty’s ship the “Rhona”
And headed out to sea.
We had no thought of fear that day
Our spirits soaring high,
And we never dreamed that danger lurked
In that calm and peaceful sky.
On the twenty-sixth at five P.M.
The Jerries came in fast
A destroyer sped across our bow
And gave the plane a blast.
Our guns were blazing all around
Their shots were not in vain.
A nazi plane went down in smoke,
Another burst in flames
The order came to go below,
We were not a happy bunch,
It as if we seemed to know
Or perhaps we had a hunch.
There were no hysterics of fear at all,
At least it didn’t show,
Some played cards, others smoked
While they waited for the blow.
It was dark and hot down in the hold,
We had no chance to fight.
Would we have a chance if the ship was hit?
We hoped and prayed we might.
The bombs were falling all around,
Our guns kept a steady roar,
They missed us time and again,
But still came back with more.
Every time a bomb fell close
Our ship would rock and shake,
Our gunners gave them all they had
There were so many lives at stake.
Suddenly the ship was hit
She split from stern to stem,
The lights went out, the engine stopped
And would never go again.
Shrapnel flew and men were hit
And timber fell like rain
The “Rhona” gave out a burst of smoke
And then burst into flame.
The order came from above
For all to come on deck
And that we did without a shove
And gazed upon the wreck.
There seemed to be no panic
We kept pretty level heads
Though many of the boys were hurt
And many of the dead.
Some of the boys were trapped below
In the hatch where the torpedo fell
What they went through we will never know
For none of them lived to tell.
We tried to lower boats and rafts
But all to no avail,
All we got was the small ones
Which we were throwing o’er the rail.
The water was rough and black with men,
In the quickly failing light.
We were fighting death with all we had
And prayed with all our might.
For two and one half hours
The Jerries gave us hell
But our thoughts were on surviving
The rough and angry swells.
We swam on and on as best we could
A mine sweeper was our goal
We knew we had no time to lose
For the sea was taking it’s toll.
The screams of men were sickening
They sent chills up and down our spines
We knew they were coming from buddies of ours
Friends of yours and mine.
The Nazis came back for a final attack,
Determined we were to lose
Many a man was cut to death
As he was sucked into the screws.
Night set in and was inky black
The water was freezing cold
We prayed for a ship to take us back
And a blanket in which to roll.
In the distance the “Rhona” gave a final shudder
She fought and she was brave
Until the moment she disappeared
Into her watery grave.
We lost a lot of men that day,
Two-fifths of us remain,
But we know the men who died that way
Have not done so in vain.
We all think of those buddies
Whereever they may be
And we will never forget the battle
Of men against the sea.