The Poetry of Tony Chapman

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013 in D-Day Poetry

Tony Chapman, an associate member of the LST and Landing Craft Association, shared some of his moving poems about D-Day with us. We are pleased to be able to share these with you. Tony's inspiring words remind us of the terrible cost associated with Operation OVERLORD.

Thanks Tony for making these available.

Poetry by Tony Chapman
Associate member of the LST and Landing Craft Association.

All copy and content herein is copyright February 2002. No part of the content herein is to be copied or transmitted without prior permission from it’s author.

Contact:
Tony Chapman:
148 Station Road, Wigston Magna, Leicester. England. LE18 2DL
a.chapman11@ntlworld.com

Dedicated to the men of D-Day in Normandy
June 6th 1944.

Never again
A dawn will see
Those ships that day
Off Normandy.

At Dawning

On June the 5th of '44
The armada it did sail
Determined that whatever
The landings would not fail
Five thousand ships or more they say
Were underway that day
Destination Normandy
A hundred miles away
Before they left…. a quiet time
For men to kneel …and pray
From all along the coast that day
The landing craft moved out
Never… in the mind’s of men
Was victory…. in doubt
In line astern they made their way
The the northern coast of France
The gunners on the craft that day
To the sky did often glance
For fear the German Luftwaffe
Might happen by perchance
In the early hours of June the 6th
The landing ships arrived
Twelve miles off they stood that morn
Waiting……..for the dawn
While out at sea, the LCT
Advanced .…though heavy laden
Churchills, Shermans, Centaurs too
Each craft it’s awesome burden
The sea swell grew, the wind it blew
And craft began to founder
Men in the sea, shouting a plea
All of them ignored
The CO's of the craft assigned
Were acting under orders
Make for the beach…. whate’er the cost
Do not pick up survivors
The rescue boats will pick them up
Don't worry… they'll be fine
The soldier… in the water sir
Please stop….he’s a friend of mine
From line astern to line abreast
The landing craft stood in
While at the rear, bombarding ships
Sent shells a whistling in.
From twelve miles off the boats filled up
With troops to storm the beaches
They circled once...they circled twice
This time lads…..came the cry
AWAY ALL BOATS…..ALL BOATS AWAY
God speed….. and don’t delay
Keep your head's down …. soldier boys
At last…..we’re on our way
And so they went… that distant dawn
That dull …and windswept morn
Craft were tossed and men were lost
With many….seasick too
Soldiers couldn't wait
For the beach to be in view
To hit the beach then … run like hell
Avoiding shot and shell
Was to them… far preferable
To that remorseless churning swell
On they sped those LCA's
In the morning mist
While out to port and starboard
Other craft were seen to list
Amid the shouts and noise and din
The assaulting troops went in
This was D-Day….Normandy…..a battle, to begin.
To Sword beach out at Ouistreham
The British 3rd Division dashed
8th Brigade were first ashore
With the beach by bullets lashed
Canadian 3rd to Juno beach
Where amid the waves they splashed
7th, 8th…..then 9th Brigade
Through obstructions crashed.
The Hampshire’s and the Dorset’s
Went to Gold at Le Hamel
Jig Green, Jig Red… the beaches
Crossing them… was hell
On their left…at La Riviere
69th Brigade did well.
Present in support that day
The landing craft assigned
Each craft with a task
For which they'd been designed
Royal Marines with Centaur tanks
Went off LCT(A)'s
Squatting… at the water’s edge
Gun howtizers did blaze
LCT(R)'s with rockets
And a few LCT(CB)'s
With tanks to silence pill-boxes
Concrete Busters these.
To each beach a squadron
Comprising LCT's
Battle ensigns… raised aloft
Snapping… in the breeze
At Courseulles…it was K Squadron
Beaches Mike Red and Nan Green
Struben’s men with four flotillas
Present at the scene.
N Squadron …at Bernieres
And St Aubin that day
To beaches Nan White and Nan Red
Arbuthnot led the way.
To the east on Sword beach
E Squadron stood four square
Watched by Commander Sellars
The squadron officer there
Queen Red, Queen White the beaches
Which many… never made
Cut down…. on their arrival
Those men……of 8th Brigade.
To the west on Gold beach
D Squadron stood their ground
Squadron Officer Langley
Commanding could be found
Defenders on the beaches
Viewed the ships and craft with awe
All this… while on to the beaches
The British troops did pour
But those men were not untested
Of sturdy stuff… were they
They were the British 50th
And they would not give way
Into Le Hamel they went
And to Les Rocquettes
This would be a day
That no man would forget.
The Green Howard's and East Yorkshire's
To the east at Ver sur Mer
King Green, King Red, the code names
For the landing beaches there
The craft that took them in that day
Those ships….without a name
Bore but a simple number
Too many to proclaim
Many craft were hit that day
And some indeed… were lost
If men were killed…their shipmates
Were left… to count the cost.
All along the beaches
Obstructions were in place
Designed to halt the landing craft
In their hell-bent race
Commandos and Royal Engineers
Strove to clear a path
In order for the soldiers
To make their headlong dash
The longest run.. of their young lives
For many…it was hell
For there… upon the beach that day
Young soldiers….. they fell
Others…. in the water
Swept away by the tidal swell.
But onwards still those landing craft
With troops and guns and tanks
Making for the beaches
To swell the growing ranks
The LCT's did rise and fall
As into waves they crashed
But having once…. attained the beach
Down the ramps…. their cargo dashed.
Two beaches not yet mentioned
And they off to the west
Defenders…on one that day
Put Americans to the test
The name it bore was Omaha
Another landing beach
The US 1st and 29th
Assigned that day to breach
Three sectors bore the code name Dog
Their colours..White, Green, Red
Many….on their way that day
Were later…discharged dead.
Withering fire…. cut through them
Scything down…. those struggling men
Many there….who fell that day
Would never…rise again.
Soldiers fell….within their craft
Just as the ramps went down
Others….in the water
So heavily weighted down
While struggling… to release their packs
Were shelled...or shot...or drowned.
For several hours on D-Day
The landings there were stalled
As troops… caught on the beaches
For safety there...they crawled
Engineers and soldiers
Eventually…did pour
Through gaps blown in the defensive wall
By the awesome… Bangalore.
To the east of Dog was Easy
Two landing beaches there
Easy Green and Easy Red
Of fighting saw their share
The remaining beach
For men to reach
Bore the name Fox Green.
The final beach to mention
Out there to the west
Had two sectors assigned to it
Tare Green and Uncle Red
The planner’s named it Utah
Where the US 4th gave of their best.
Initially..the landings
Appeared quite unopposed
Even as the landing craft
Towards the beach they nosed
Later waves they had it rough
But the US 4th were tough
They were off the beach quite rapidly
So inland began to push
Two hundred men died there that day
LCT's… were lost
Landings unopposed…..?
Not when you count the cost.
Rudder’s 2nd Rangers
To Charlie sector..Pointe Du Hoc
Assigned as all the others
In the race against the clock
Their LCA's attained the beach
Grappling hooks were fired
Rudder…..there with them
His Rangers…..inspired
Their task to scale the cliffs that day
German guns..to sweep away
Sadly....so many....off the beach they did not stray
Later waves they landed
With the 29th on Dog
From there… it was through Normandy
On foot….they had to slog.
June the 6th of '44
Was the opening of the door
Which would bring a final end
To that terrible six years war
The landings there on D-Day
Were…so historians say
The greatest ever mounted
And will remain that way.
Ten thousand men. ……did pay the price
Not all….of course, were lost
Wounded, dead and missing
A terrible human cost
Many there were wounded
But have no scars to show
The sights they saw… so terrible
The memories…they can’t let go.
For them… it is not easy
To speak of things they did
The sights..the sounds..their memories
They prefer to keep them hid
So ask not of a veteran
His memories recall
For many…..even now
Will never.…speak at all
Their memories…are theirs alone
Of friends…and pals… they’d known.
On that now distant summer morn
June 6th of '44
So many men they landed
On that distant foreign shore
Within minutes....even seconds
So many....were no more
For many months they'd worked and trained
So each their part could play
Tragically….for many
It was the shortest...longest day
In Normandy they landed
It is there…that they remain
They died that day for freedom
But they did not complain
In Hermanville and Ranville
Bayeux and St Laurent
Lie men whom we should honour
Brave men… who knew the score
So visit them when passing
Stand with them there a while
Yes...we must remember them
Those men… who knew such trial
A few quiet words..is all it takes
To tell them how you feel
When doing so…..remember
To bow your head….and kneel.

47 Commando

47 Commando…were present on D-Day
With the 50th…on to Gold beach
Went their LCA
The landing ships Victoria
And Josephine Charlotte
Carried 47…to that awful war torn plot
Resistance met…at Le Hamel
By the Hampshire’s caused delay
The fighting there…was fierce indeed
And went on..through the day
This unforeseen situation
Had to be resolved
The commandos..in their LCA's
To the eastwards…they hoved
Landing close by Le Roquette
They quickly stormed ashore
The immediate requirement
A foothold..to secure
Once there..and established
They carried out the plan
Marching back…to the westward
To take..Port en Bessin
The march they made..that summer day
Their objective…to secure
Is written…into the history..of June 6th of '44
The men of 47..who landed there that day
Their ranks..now sadly thinning
As with time..they march away
But the memory..of what they did
Our freedom…to secure
Ensures their place..in history
Both now….and evermore..!!

A Silent Prayer

For twenty hours..we've traveled
Across.. this stormy sea
With these tanks
And these soldiers
My shipmates..and me
The waves are breaking o'er the bows
Our tank deck..it's awash
Soldiers..they're all saying
Please God….just let us off….!!!
They're ill…and they are sea-sick
I don't envy them…their plight
When the door goes down..at H-Hour
It is then….they've got to fight..!!
I'll stand and watch..the tanks roll off
The soldiers..close behind
How many here…will make it..?
Passes through my mind
They're only lads these soldiers
A life…they've yet to live
Some of them....this morning
Their life….they'll surely give
This LCT….that we’re all on
She'll be…. a target too.!!!
As we hit the beach
Amid bullet and shell
She'll doubtless…take a few
That's why Lord….we’re all saying
A silent prayer……….to you.

Any Moment Now

Any moment now
The noise…..it will begin
As bombarding ships and rocket ships
Send their salvo's whistling in
Any moment now
These landing craft will move
Making for the beaches
Defenders….. to remove
Any moment now
There will be many a silent prayer
As these craft attain the beaches
So close now…. see them there
Any moment now
Men and craft they will be hit
It is then…..we'll be required
To show we have true grit
Any moment now
I will be watching comrades fall
Be ready Lord…..above the noise
Listen…..for my call
I do not know…..if I will cope
Please….stand by me…show me how
I’m going to need you…..more than ever
Any moment now

Away They Go

Away they go….those men and craft
Cruising………in line astern
One…behind the other
Some…..may not return
Away they go…those men and craft
Cruising……day and night
Destination….Normandy
Where they will be…at dawn's first light
Away they go…..those men and craft
All……….with a quiet prayer
That tomorrow Lord….in Normandy
You….will be with them..there.

Bunts

For many years…we'd been great pals
No truer friends…than we
From early years
Through schooldays
It was always…….him and me
In '39 the war came
We joined the navy then
Thereafter…it was several years
Before we met…..again
One day…whilst in the harbour
Aboard our LCT
I heard a voice shout…..Wires…!!
Over here………it's me….!!
I turned to look,,,and there he stood
My best pal……once again
But now…..he was a Signalman
Or Bunts……as they were known
We sat and talked..for hours
Fond memories….of home
For many weeks thereafter
We worked and trained all day
Working-up..for Normandy
And victory…..come what may
Then came that day..of June the 5th
Our flotilla…..underway
Departing from Southampton
Our craft…she made her way
My mate Bunts….was on the bridge
As we cruised…. in line astern
Heading south….for Normandy
How many….would return…?
Our gunners…ever watchful
Both through the day… and night
The following morning …June the 6th
By the rays of dawn’s first light
We saw the landing beaches
Now………we had to fight
I looked astern….towards the bridge
My mate Bunts….was there
Hands held high…and signalling
His flags… cut the morning air
Thereafter…we were busy
Getting tanks and troops ashore
The landings…they were awful
Of that… you can be sure
It was later…that I noticed
Bunts missing….from the bridge
A shell.. had passed straight through it
Taking Bunts and our CO
I oft now sit and wonder
About that morning long ago
And wonder… if Bunts
Knew it was his time to go
I would like to think
My life-long pal
Upon the bridge so high
That in…. his final moments
He signalled me…….Goodbye….!!

Hold on to the Hold

Hold on….to the hope lads
That we see…this long day out
Despite….if some around us
Are wary….and full of doubt
Hold on…to the hope lads
That before…this day is through
We’ll be heading back…to England
Still………with our full crew
Hold on…to the hope lads
As the sun…begins to rise
That tomorrow….at dawning
We’ll all….still be alive
Hold on…..to the hope lads
As we face….this dreadful morn
That the good Lord…up in heaven
Will not leave us…..hurt and torn
Hold on….. to the hope lads
That if we…. should die this day
That the good Lord…..up in heaven
Will carry us…….away

I Remember

It's their faces…..I remember
Men whose names….I can't recall
It was Bunts and Sparks and Wires
Just nicknames…that's all
It's their faces….I remember
Their jokes, their smiles, their grins
It's their faces…I remember
And that day….I saw them fall
All I have…are nicknames
Which do not help…at all
As I stand……..amongst these headstones
Seeking names…………I can't recall….!!!

I Stand Here Now

I stand here now
Amongst…. brave men
With whom…I’ve stood before
The last time…. when we landed
On June 6th of '44
Back then….we were all young men
Eighteen…or little more
Their lives…cut short…that morning
On this distant…windswept shore
I stand here now…and wonder
What would they…have become
Had they survived…that morning
Their lives…..allowed full run
One thing…I know…for certain
Of which…there is…no doubt
These brave young men
My pals….from then
Would....be old
White haired….with wrinkled brow
Just like me…
As I stand here…..now

If Only

If only… I could see them
My friends… who died here…that day
Dear Lord…I would feel…..far better
Than I do…standing here…..today.

Keep Moving

Keep moving lads…….keep moving
Don’t huddle……. on this beach
Don’t make yourselves a target
For those guns up there to reach
Keep moving lads…….keep moving
There’s the seawall….over there
Keep moving lads…keep moving
Don't falter…or despair
Don't look…..at comrades falling
Around you…..everywhere
Keep moving lads…keep moving
We can take this…on the chin
Keep moving…..and keep praying
Before those guns…they zero in.

On This Bridge

On this bridge….I stand looking
At those troops..and tanks below
And yes……….I'll still be here
When it's time…for them to go
We’re getting closer..by the hour
If they're scared….it doesn't show
Watch them Lord…look after them
Although you will…I know.
We're closer now…..I'm ready
In front of us…..the beach
There are men there….in the water
Can't stop….they're out of reach
They're shouting…….and they're pleading
For us….to pull them in
Close your ears….don't listen
Can't hear…above this din
Steady Coxswain…..straight ahead
Stand ready…..at the door
Gunners…..pick your targets
As you have..so oft before
Stand by to beach……get ready
Winch party……….down door…!!!
I'll say a prayer….for all of you
Will it never end….this war…?
The tanks are off…and rolling
Firing…as they go
Soldiers fall..around them
Can’t look….don't want to know
I'll never forget..this morning
For as long….as I may live
The sounds and sights..I witnessed
While standing…….on this bridge.

A Quiet Place

It's quiet here, so quiet
Standing on this hill
But if I stand here too much longer
My eyes with tears will fill
Looking down…….I'm there again
On that beach……just down below
Far different…to that morning
That I remember so
That beach…..it was a hell on earth
Where no man…. should ever go
I remember
I was down there
I should know
Don't cry now…dear old soldier
That was many years ago

The Coxswain

There are forty of us waiting
In this little LCA
We sailors…and these soldiers
We're taking in today
They came aboard our mother ship
Now several days ago
They're growing very pale
As the strain begins to show
They're only boys…the most of them
Eighteen to twenty three
For some of them…..tomorrow
Is a day……they'll never see.
I can't promise we'll all make it lads
But I'll do my best…you'll see
I'll remember you….you young soldiers
This day….in Normandy
God bless you lads….and keep you safe
We'll meet again….one day
This is it then lads…..keep your heads down
AWAY ALL BOATS………AWAY

The Visit

Hello lads….it's me again
Called by…to see you all
To remind you…of the old times
That I often….now recall
We were lads….remember…?
That day….now years ago
The passing years.. have aged me
I'm ancient now ….I know
My wife….is here with me
My children…they're here too
They all…wanted to meet you
As our friendship..we renew
For you and I…were shipmates
Proud members…of a crew
Who landed here…on D-Day
Precisely….when due
But that was then..and this..is now
So many years…between
And now…we're back together
Amid this quiet ….tranquil scene
Forgive me lads….if I just wipe
These tears...from my ageing eyes
I stand here now…just thinking
Of what life could..have been
For you..and I…were shipmates
Proud members….of a crew
Who landed here……on D-Day
Precisely………..when due
The shell that hit..to starboard
It took you…all away
And that.. is why…we are standing here
Visiting you……..today.

Thirty Five

Thirty five men…we carried
To the beach….that distant day
Off Llangibbey Castle
Canadians…..were they
We…were Royal Marines…557 LCA
Thirty five men…we landed
On the beach there
At Courseulles
They went off…with a spirit
That would not..be denied
Resistance met…..was fierce indeed
For certain…..many died
Even now….all these years later
I think… of those brave…thirty five
And oft times…..I still wonder
How many………survived….?

This Beach

This beach…could tell a story

This beach…it would not lie

Could we…..but only listen

This beach….would make us cry

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