Saga of the Murmansk Run

This poem was written by George X. Hurley
It is just one of the items you get when you purchase the book "No Surrender"
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Saga of the Murmansk Run (Originally written on paper bags in 1943) by George X. Hurley Liberty ships are rusty and slow But where they sail, I must go Scarred old derelicts, sweet piles of junk I walked your deck, slept in your bunk I felt like a bird in a steel nest To me you were a home, I loved you best Things I learned while still on shore Was Liberty Ships were winning the war No finer ship ever sailed the blue Than a Liberty Ship with it's Armed Guard crew There is no glory delivering by the ton So just enjoy it, have your fun England was tough, we all agree Tanks in a storm, they all broke free Then a collision, we all should be dead Ammunition stored safe in its bed. I am a sailor, a Liberty Man I do my best, the best I can I will protect you from all in the air You're all we have, we really care But now it's different, I don't feel well We're going to Russia "the Gateway to Hell'' I know we can make it, I will return Minus the bow, probably the stern Scotland was great, kilts are my style Forming our convoy takes quite awhile Escorts are ready, prancing ahead Don't leave us behind, we all will be dead First day out, I'm chilled to the bone Even in convoy you just feel alone Cooks are like witches making your brew Gallons of coffee just for the crew Coffee, oh coffee, drink all you take Black and steaming to keep you awake Depth charges dropping most every night Keeping the submarines deep out of sight Every few hours alarms seem to screech Run to your guns, close up the breech Twenty millimeters ready for hell "Come on you bastards" That is your yell One ship explodes just down the line Up goes a tanker two ships behind Sea's all afire, kissing some ships I heard a scream, was it my lips? German planes came making their run Earning their cross in the arctic sun God be my judge I'll never tell How often I softened on the "Gateway to Hell'' J.U. 88 you won't hear us beg Be careful of us, we want your egg Shrapnel, like rain, falls on our deck I've had this trip up to my neck Where is my jacket, my rubber suit? No one will answer, they're all scared mute "Wake up you dummies, I will survive'' I'll leave this ship free and alive Powder and smoke, low flying planes This was a day just made for dying Heroes so many they can't be counted Here they come! Another attack mounted Death you seem so friendly a hand Torturing the souls of this tired band No one can ever describe this story Of these fighting men, men without glory Ice and the cold, you too are our foe Taking your toll, laying us low Someday with pride say to your son "Your father survived the Murmansk run'' A separate war fought by a few Merchant seamen, an Armed Guard Crew British Navy fighting with pride Out in the Arctic, no place to hide Ducks in a pond, I know how you feel Waiting for death, this is for real No movie, no newsreel, no happy end Death sits and waits just down the bend I'm saying my prayers, my gun is so hot Don't say I'm scared, I know that I'm not All of my fear is now just a rage I'll make some history, if only one page Stand by your gun, there's no place to hide Fight like a tiger, where is your pride? Let them all know we must be free England can crow but we rule the sea My officers babbling "Change the barrel, son'' Why am I smiling? This isn't fun "Sorry, Sir, I respect all your freight The barrel's in the tube, froze very tight'' Old Joe, the boatswain, picking up the shells Mike the Messman hit and he yells All brave men fighting as one Giving their all 'til the battle is won Look to our Captain, he never broke Giving his orders in all of the smoke Chain of sailors, some on the bridge Passing the shells in this cold fridge Planes like bees searching for honey It is so bright but it's not sunny If we had fog we'd prolong our doom Don't get downhearted, we don't need gloom Life or death is only a thread Speak to a shipmate, then he's dead Ocean's just a graveyard of sorrow The tonic is hope, a wish for tomorrow Rosary beads are my frozen tears Will they thaw in future years? Valor so common not recorded in history Ships just vanish, a Russian mystery Ships keep moving, Pied Piper calling Bringing aid to dictator Stalin Young blood and some so old Will their story ever be told? Who were these men? Someone's son There is no glory on the Murmansk Run Men so brave slaughtered like cattle Don't ever mention this Russian battle Bodies like chocolates dipped in black oil Your journey is over, free from toil Blinking red lights, not summer fireflies Everything's quiet now, no more cries Give no quarter, fight till the end No surrender, iron men don't bend If I survive and again reach shore I'll never knock at this Russian door My feet are so cold but this gun is manned Body is aching, I can't feel my hand But my twenty millimeter is working fine We'll keep firing till the end of time No life boat for me, I die where I stand Like an icicle, shiny and grand The Arctic is neutral, it takes no side All dressed in white, waiting for its bride We are so cold but we will deliver Even polar bears are cold and they shiver Why God made this place I'll never know Keep all your ice, send it below Temperatures so cold it cast a spell No one can live in the devil's well Slowly more bodies in clusters float by Eyes frozen in sockets turned to the sky Twelve submarines circling the foe Where is the heaven sailors go? Another destroyer torpedoed twice Luck just ran out like the roll of the dice Now comes the fog, can we hide? Keep your position on this suicide ride Coffee please, till the battle is done How will we tell who lost or who won? But the planes see our mast Dropping bombs in another pass More ships hit, more men die I only looked, too cold to cry Dear friend, Jesus, to You I call Help your lambs before we fall I can't promise I'll be good tomorrow But the Bible says you watch the sparrow If I should die in some ship's wake Don't tell St. Peter, give me a break Just try and judge good intentions My black deeds, don't even mention Churchill said "We have no ships'' Roosevelt said "Ours are on the Pacific trips'' Stalin boasted "I fight all alone Deliver the goods and go back home The Kola Inlet is bleak German planes have access to the air Air raid shelter is hit, where are you God? Hundreds buried under Russian sod No place a haven, only a death trap They try to bomb it right off the map No buildings are standing, everything's down Pocked by craters, there is no town No water, no lights, no scraps of food All is depression, death is the mood Bodies all over killed by some hand No one gets buried in this frozen land A pretty asked me, "Do you have some bread?" She told me her mother and sister were dead I gave her my sandwich and an old candy bar I looked to the sky, God was so far Everyone runs at Stalin's call But this is a war hurting us all Who is this man, butcher of men? Hitler or Stalin, who is our friend? I won't forget till I'm peaceful and dead I carry these scars deep in my head Life will go on but I'll never lose sight Of freezing peasants, starving but right They're forming a convoy, we're going back No one can sleep, not time for the sack Submarines lurk to kiss us good-bye Drop all your depth charges, let them fly Alarms, alarms, you're always ringing Sounds like a devil chorus singing But I could care less, gone is all fear Stumbling to my gun with all this gear Ghost of ships carrying young men They'll never be seen in this world again If weather and ice don't sink your ship Submarines and planes will finish your trip Nothing more cruel was ever done to man Send you to hell on a rusty tin can God will forgive, that's a sure bet I may forgive, but I won't forget Frozen toes, fingers that pain Cheeks that you rub, seems all in vain Wind like a knife cuts through your clothes it's part of learning, I suppose Where is everyone? Have they left too? Am I alone in this cold stew? Cool off your barrel, hey, wait a minute Here comes a plane, we're right back in it Down goes the plane, whining in flames Cursing us all, who is the blame? No iron cross, pilot so brave Only reward is a watery grave Step out on deck, breathe that cold air Lift up your heart, who's left to care? Submarines below, planes up on high All I can say "It's a good day to die'' We're the warriors, like Roman Legionnaires Like great Sioux Chiefs, men without fear Armed Guard sailors such as I Showed all the world just how to die What would life be under Germany's heel? Concentration camps, bars of steel So no surrender, fire to the sky We'll leave as free men if we say good-bye No one is talking, I hear no voices Am I spared? Has God made his choices? Why did he leave me, I'll never know But it looks to me like the end of the show No one relieves me, I stand by my gun Looks like it's over, who really won I'll never go back, just hear me tell Close to the door to the gateway to hell Sailors are dead, frozen and stiff Lifeboats with bodies floating adrift Smoke in your eyes, can't hardly see But I made my payment to keep us free Please more coffee, I can't go below Not for a moment, they won't stop the show Each day we're closer, Scotland is home Where are the escorts? Are we alone? "Silence is golden'' my mother once said It's really quiet, is everyone dead? But we're still moving, still afloat Our only damage, a shattered lifeboat Peel off your clothes, they stick to your skin We get a shower, I guess we win Shave off your beard, put on something nice Clothes thrown overboard, covered with Lice Dear old Scotland, open your gate For many sailors it opened too late I feel this surge, I made it back Frozen and tired, my brain's out of whack A drink with a lass with skin so fair No war stories, she doesn't care We never existed, the Navy won't tell All those ships on the bottom, in hell Drink a toast to the bastardly sons Don't mention the battle we surely won God took a vacation, left us alone Out in the ocean, so white with foam Pretend we're not there, we'll go away Carrying a suitcase, holding our pay Marines guard the street, singing their hymn But we guard the gates, we let you in Oh we cursed you, old ship, you were so slow But you took us there, where no one would go Brought us back to the American shore No one could ask for anything more Today l'm a man, I'll curse and I'll drink No longer afraid of torpedoes that sink I have survived, I'm a better man My gun is my arm, we made our stand So much suffering, so many dying So many shipmates died just for trying All of their labor, all of the toil All of the bodies covered with oil I only lived with memories of home As I watched the sky, frozen alone With this door to my mind I could escape Back to my childhood, away from this place My mother at the table looking so fair Serving the meal with face, oh so fair My brothers and sisters, all in a dream But then there's a noise off the port beam When men go to sea and the stories are told I'll only say that I was cold Nights in the summer, heart all aquiver Every so often I still will shiver When there's a homer and people cheer One thing haunts me forever, I fear It sounds like the noise when people are dying I still remember, but I stopped crying So I'll go to my grave, at least on land Don't ever tell me war was so grand My mother, dear mother, didn't raise a son To live or die on the Murmansk Run The gateway to hell will never fade There's not enough money could ever be paid So old Joe Stalin, when you rot in the ground Where was your help? Never around Arctic winds blow, sea moves at night This watery grave is still quite a sight All the young men, so brave and so bold Now, at least, they're warm from the cold No man in his right mind should make this trip For sure he'll come back, not with the ship Mother, oh Mother, don't raise your son To have to die on the Murmansk Run.

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