December 30, 1943 on the USS Pioneer
Now fill up your glasses folks, and turn off the the jazz,
Everyone lend all the ears he has,
I am going to tell a story dealt with fame and fear,
About an A.M. Sweeper called the Pioneer.
T’was deep in November and the winds were high,
Planes were reported racing through the evening sky,
The officers agreeing as they gathered around,
Those torpedo planes were German, and were convoy bound.
The wind had changed into a raging gale,
Our fighter’s spitting fire into the Nazis’ tail,
Flames and smoke closed around the enemy a cold gray pool.
While death was a-reaching for flying fool.
The captain got the word there were planes overhead,
And with a calm and steady voice, here’s what he said:
The Germans are attacking, “Flank speed ahead”
“Ring general quarters”, and start pouring lead.
The crew rushed to their stations kinda worried in their gaze,
They tried to penetrate that deep gray haze.
For off the starboard quarter a torpedo bomb fell,
Right then and there the crew knew they were in for hell.
The shells of antiaircraft had been brought aboard,
No. 1 reported ready as the forties roared,
Full right rudder was the order as the planes grew near,
And we started pouring lead without a thought of fear.
They dropped an egg but it failed to hit,
Right off the starboard beam is where it lit.
Three boys were wounded as the shrapnel flew,
Amongst the swinging fantail of our gallant crew.
They tried at least three times or more,
Our maneuvering was perfect and they failed to score.
Our guns were firing heavy on the Nazi mark,
As the Jerries hit a transport just as it grew dark.
Now the mighty “Rohna” was in the race,
And the name they gave her, she was no disgrace.
First a cloud of smoke and then the flame,
But she’ll always be remembered as a ship of fame.
Now for twenty-seven minutes she stayed afloat,
It gave survivors time to lower a boat.
They were all turned over by the mad cold seas,
And men struggled in the water like a hive of bees.
Now the plane that got the Rohna quickly fled,
But it found it couldn’t beat hot lead,
For off port quarter she missed and stewed
And finally headed downward losing altitude.
Captain looked at his compass, he was sailing blind
and this getting dark, kinda eased his mind.
We picked up the suffering, as we heard them call,
Six hundred and six survivors we picked up in all.
Now I’ve heard them moan and I’ve heard them cry.
I never knew disaster til I saw some die.
Now some were burnt and some were froze,
Others fell off cargo nets in eternal doze.
Sleeping quarters were covered with blood and sweat,
and those doughboys faces I will never forget.
The Doc was busy doing all he could do,
I bet he pulled a least a hundred doughboys through.
Now the fight was over, the results were fair,
Twelve Nazi bombers were forced out of the air.
Now with the help of God and the angels,
The mighty baby escort Pioneer pulled through.
Now the Pioneer was fighting for our colors,
Fighting for the land we love to roam.
We’ll fight right on until we hear the whistle,
Then we’ll lash our hammocks and we’ll all go home.