Submarine silhouetted starkly
On the silver platter, toylike,
For the slaughter.
Clearly as a ringbarked naked tree
Against the hot and glaring mallee,
The blood-lusting shark itself sweet prey
To eagle wings avenging.
How often in like manner had
The U-boat crept upon the victim.
Stealthy shadow lacking profile,
Dealing death when least expected
To lonely merchantmen.
Suddenly from utter blackness
Comes the aircraft spitting madly,
Hate for hate with savage purpose,
Death for death with bell-like fury,
Bombs away upon the enemy.
God oh God, why must man kill
Why must we train for self-destruction.
How we yearn for love and laughter.
Children yet in throbbing heartbeats
But so barbarous.
God oh God forgive we mortals
Who rupture peace and follow orders,
Who feign heroics and win our medals
For slaying others.
With German U-boat 385 - a naval submarine - in the crosshairs, the brave captain dropped his payload. The vessel was crippled from beneath the surface from the plane's depth charges and left dead in the water. Flying above, Mr Southall circled overhead as the Navy moved in to collect more than 40 survivors. 'It was terribly deliberate,' he later wrote of the attack in a book titled 'They Shall Not Pass Unseen'. 'It was premeditated murder ... their white faces in the moonlight, looking up at me.' The Captain was promoted to Flight Lieutenant a few months after. 'Suddenly you understood what it meant to defeat a U-boat,' Mr Southall wrote. 'Through circumstances over which you had no personal control, you have been given the chance to justify your crew and yourself.' Upon landing safely, the future award-winning author detailed his pure dread of the experience in the form of a poem.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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• Last Modified: 22 March 2022, 13:08 •