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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.




© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • John Chapman
    July 22, 2016

    First Lords as with many more in high office are there to blame, never to take the blame. The lowly amongst us are there for that purpose.

  • John Huddart
    August 16, 2016

    A sad story and a shocking end for so many. The full story of HMS Thetis/Thunderbolt repays studying on so many levels. I was intrigued to learn that Ice Station Zebra employed the blocked inspection pin hole as a plot device.

    And the first casualty of war has often been…….

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