Bowthorpe Church – November 2019 Remembrance

The poem below was written in memory of an old Second World War naval veteran who died a few years ago. Although it is focussed on those who served at sea, it is also to help us remember all those who gave their lives in conflict. It expresses something of the horrors of war and the lasting effect war has on people’s lives.

The Sea My Friend

I will forever be a sailor, and the sea my friend.
The sea has been my friend and my enemy.
At times it is calm and easy, but at other times it is wild and angry.
On the ship sailing for distant lands
we leave shore in the hope of a safe return
and in the hope of adventure and heroism.
Leaving port there is excitement and dread,
all mixed up in the pit of my stomach.
As we steam away from home, I wonder will I ever return to these shores.
Day turns to night and the cold of arctic seas.
Thoughts turn to sleep only to be woken by the turmoil of enemy attack.
Scrambling to my position amid the chaos of death and destruction,
I see my pal, with eyes vacant, frozen by fear.
Around him lie sailors, blue from cold, red from blood.
It could have been me. It could have been me.
And then I awake from the nightmare of battle,
only to do my daily battle within me.
Now I am far from sea,
but the sea has captured me and I am forever in its grasp,
never to escape the adventure, the horror, the fear.
“Those were the days” we said,
days when we felt alive
and life was a mixture of courage, self-doubt and the taste of salt water.
Those were the days that made me, changed me, and still hold me.
I will forever be a sailor, and the sea my friend.

By Mark Elvin


This month as we remember the sacrifice of those at home and abroad, we remember those for whom the memories of war never leaves them and blights their lives for ever. In Psalm 23 we read, `Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff they comfort me.’ In this month of Remembrance, we can hold onto the hope that whatever horrors we are facing, God is there to walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We don’t stop there, we walk through with God’s help and comfort close at hand.

Until next month,
Revd. Mark

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