On the short strand where the Red Wharf Bay Sailing
and Water Sports Club has its clubhouse,
the salvaged HMS Thetis was grounded
the day Chamberlain declared war on Hitler.
The last human remains were slow marched,
with muffled drums, up the narrow, high banked lane.
For want of an escape drill and a pinhole
ninety nine men had died from carbon monoxide.
Raging Achilles, scion of the Greeks,
prince of the Myrmidons, slayer of Hector,
was son to Thetis, a nymph of the sea.
The First Lord took no blame, kept secret the
misapplied drop of enamel paint,
the panic – and compensated no one.
With muffled drums up the straitened lane
they bore the dead that sunny Sunday –
before the beaches were edged with tank traps,
the coasts sealed with barbed wire.