Engine Room Artificer 4th Class William T. H. Morris
Unit : HMS Saracen.
Service No. : P/MX89090
POW No. : 1359
Camps : Marlag und Milag Nord
William Morris served aboard the British submarine HMS Saracen. The boat was scuttled in the Mediterranean on the 14th August 1943 and Morris became a Prisoner of War in Italy, later moved to Marlag und Milag Nord in Germany. The following are extracts from his log book, kept during this time.
"Omnia Vincit Amor" (Love conquers all)
To My Wife, September 25th, 1944:
"A truer, nobler, trustier heart, more loving or more loyal, never beat within a human breast."
June 18th, 1942. Perhaps many ships were commissioned, but none of interest to us, but "Saracen", in those days only a number "P.247". The name "Saracen" was adopted from the famous Arab tribe which gave so many gallant battles to "Richard" the "Crusader King". The submarine P.247, later given the name of "Saracen", proved herself worthy to carry the name, under the able command of Lt. M.G.R. Lumby, D.S.O., D.S.C., M.I.D.
The first venture on the high seas, as a fighting unit, was very successful, a German U-boat No.335, being sunk in the North Sea, from which there was one survivor, by name Rudolf Younker of Kiel, aged nineteen... Saracen returning to base flying the German Naval Flag under the White Ensign, denoting to all, her first kill. The Officers and Crew are proud men indeed, at this time.
August 23, 1942 marks the departure from England of this tiny fighting unit, 805 tons of machinery, 42 men her crew, heading for the West, to fame or destruction, as fate decreed. A patrol from the "Gateway" of the "Med" resulted in no further additions to the laurels of "Saracen", so onward, westward she sailed. While on the way an attack is carried out on a German U-boat, missing with her fish, gun action was given, Jerry did not wait, he dived to safety.
Malta, that "Island of Courage", is the future base of operations. Food is short, cigarettes and tobacco practically none existent ashore, sufficiency of air raids, which were conveniently arranged by the enemy, usually meal times. "Saracen" with her fighting sisters of the Flotilla clothed daily in numerous, stinking and filthy smoke screens, duty watch cursing the raiders, with illustrious curses. Football, swimming, runs ashore, the raiders could not stop the submariners' fun. Lady Luck once again smiles on "Saracen" her next victim being an Italian U-boat of the new "Metal" class, her name "Cobalto", no survivors.
December ushers in a change of base, this time to the East "Saracen" sails, arriving at Algiers in time for Xmas dinner. On the way East a small convoy is sighted near the Bay of Tunis, an attack was carried out, owing to presence of numerous aircraft, the attack was not successful, Enemy aircraft counter attacking, giving "Saracen" her first war scars. The next success is scored on an Enemy convoy off Bizerta, one of the escorting destroyers getting the real benefit of four torpedos. No counter attack was even attempted by the other destroyers.
To Genoa sails a ten thousand ton tanker, a grand sight thro a periscope, range unfortunately, being extreme. A fish of "Saracen's" finds it's way, a large hole, a nice hole, appears in the tanker, and a few depth charges for "Saracen" is her reward from the enemy. (Tanker skipper makes port with his damaged ship and is given an Italian decoration.)
Attacks on a cargo ship and an Italian U-boat failed to bring results, not so the gun actions in which an Italian A/S schooner, two German sea going tugs, met their doom, plus two practically completed schooners on the stocks of a shipyard. This action did not suit the enemy, shore batteries opening fire and giving "Saracen" her second lot of battle scars.
The great opportunity occurs, to add even greater laurels to the fame already won. For a change, a real convoy, off Bastia, Corsica, an Italian liner carrying troops, an armed merchant cruiser and a destroyer are safely stowed away in Davy Jones' locker. A salvo of six, three ships, a grand record. German ammunition for the destruction of Allied Troops in North Africa, passing Monte Cristo, this ship did not arrive in Africa. A cargo ship from Bastia, death to the enemy, and yet another ammunition ship fails to arrive at her port, her last resting place, the bottom of the "Med" also. Bastia, a fateful name to "Saracen", one visit too often and two German destroyers, three corvettes, five E-boats attack. "Saracen" mortally wounded is compelled to surface, but not to surrender. The crew calmly but sorrowfully "abandon ship", the ship they love is on her last patrol, with no guiding hands. "Saracen" dives, a perfect dive, a proud farewell, her funeral dirge the cheers of her crew. Truly a gallant ship, a fighting ship, and as such may she always be remembered, by her crew and the public of England.
Hail and Farewell, "Saracen".
July 10th Saracen was badly damaged by depth charges off Bastia. Navigating lights blown off the bridge, hull sprung port side, starboard shaft put out of line. Twenty seven decorations were earned by various members of the crew during "Saracen's" commission.
August 1943. Friday 13th "Saracen" attacked 23:55
August 1943 Saturday 14th "Saracen" sunk. Survivors taken to Bastia, Corsica (Naval Barracks) by Italian corvette "Minerva".
August 1943. Thursday 19th Survivors transported by corvette to Italian mainland, "Piombina harbor", thence by train to Lake Bracciano "Campo No.1. Marina" for an interrogation by Italian and German officers.
September 9th 1943 Information of Italian Armistice. Released with request to stay at the camp. German unit seen proceeding to take over the camp, upon receiving this news, survivors were promptly evacuated by Captain who acted as guide for the party, travelling four days into the mountains, German patrols evaded. Captain left the party at a village. Party broke up into small groups, each group proceeding, on it's own route. Our party route as follows:
Boggette to Cantaloupo, arriving September 19, 1943 Cantaloupa to Aspra, arriving October 30, 1943 Aspra to Vallepietra, arriving December 9, 1943 Via: Roccasecca, Oliveto, Rocantigua, Collegovi, Petro Secca (ten days in transit)
Vallepietra - Trevi - Filletino - April 4, 1944
Filletino to Casino Via: Campo Varno, Vico nel Lazio, Certora de Trisalti, Santa Nichola, Santa Francesca, Arpino, Terrelli, Belmonte - returning same route to Filletino, substituting Guarcino for Campo Varno.
Recaptured Saturday, May 13th, 1944.
"De stars all a-gwine put dey little ones to bed,
Wid dey "hush now, sing a lullaby,"
De man in de moon nod his sleepy, sleepy head,
And de sand man put a little in his eye."
We flatter those we scarcely know,
We please the fleeting guest,
And deal full many a thoughtless blow,
To those we love the best.
Measure thy life by loss instead of gain:
Not by wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth;
For love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice,
And he who suffers most, has most to give.
"What I am Today"
He grabbed me by my slender neck,
I could not call or scream,
He dragged me to his dingy room,
Where we could not be seen.
He took from me, my flimsy wrap,
And gazed upon my naked form,
I was so cold, so scared, so damp,
He was so big and warm.
He put his feverish lips to mine,
I gave him every drop,
He took from me my very soul,
I could not make him stop.
He made me what I am today,
That's why you find me here,
A broken bottle thrown away,
That once was full of beer.
Rewritten from a POW logbook, August 19, 1944
That sir, which serves and seeks for gain,
And follows but for form,
Will pack when it begins to rain,
And leave you in the storm.
But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?
But the Dwarf answered: "No, something human is dearer to me than the wealth of all the world." - Grimm Brothers
Here gather where the lovely odor flows,
Philosophers and men who come to sit,
When the stools of rumor and debate,
When nature calls and they are full of wit.
What great decisions have been slowly born Herein,
despite the odor assailing the nose,
Alas, that rumor ends up like something else,
When comes the wagon, with the honeyed hose!
Folks We Met:
Family: Mamma Ibo, Virgilio, Pepi, Ammanda, Carlo Enricho, Innando, Fernando (Family name Ibo)
Pappi Guiseppe, Aspra, Sabina, Rieti, Italia
Johann, Valletino, Alberto, Lumberto
David Paullette, Arizona
Sonny Farsoulis, New York
Reme Delouche, New Orleans
Donald Roulene, Wisconsin
Poucho Confortsi, Rome
Bill Nelson, Virginia
John, New York
Ken Johnson, Moline
American Army Air Corps, Pilots, Bombardiers, Navigators
Frank Seaton, Leeds, Royal Navy
Arthur Billington, Whitley Bay, R.A.F.
Wilbur MacCoombes, Nova Scotia, R.C.A.F.
Ed Hudson, Lower Tranville, Arma Co. N.S. Canada
J.B. Dyck 307 Dilbruck St. Nelson, B.C. Canada
Seaforth Highlanders of Canada
September 19th to October 30th, we stayed at Cantaloupo with Ibo and family, we were treated as sons of the family.
October 30th to December 9th we stayed with Guiseppe, who with his companions rented a house on the main street of Aspra for us, despite the eight active Fascists in the village.
I like my grub, it pleases me,
Better than love or amity;
Eggs and ham, bacon, liver,
An Easter lamb, trout of the river.
I dream of pie, instead of Cupid;
A broken heart is very stupid,
Except the heart of sheep in gravy,
Give me that, and Heaven save ye!
I have a pal, so fine, so true,
Loyally mine, thro many a year,
Of her, I dream, when I am blue,
Then this madness, I do not fear.
While I'm away, she serves at home,
Tho it palls, there's no complaint,
As all her life, she has been a saint,
God grant her pluck, to do alone,
My home duties and her own.
She is there and standing fast,
Braving this storm of dread and strife,
Dreaming and smiling o'er the past,
Cheering me also, to the last,
God Bless, my pal, my wife.
One day soon, we'll meet again,
No more heartaches, no more pain,
For faithfully I'll serve, the rest of my life,
My pal, my wife.
August 30, 1944
"Know thy self, reflect into thy mind, see in thy heart a god enthroned, and obey the mandate of that god, which is the mighty shadow of a man's own self." ... Bushido
"If in the shadow land of life, thou hast found one true heart to love thee, hold it fast, love it again, give all to keep it thine, for love, unlike anything else in the world, can last."
Help me, O God. My boat is so small and thy ocean so wide. "Prayer of the Breton Mariners"
"But words are things, and a small drop of ink, Falling like dew upon a thought, produces That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think." ... Byron
A Two Man Submarine Operation:
Sailed from Malta at 1800 Dec. 24 '42 on board H.M. S/M Thunderbolt, arrived off Palermo, Sicily, Jan. 2 '43. Left Thunderbolt five miles out at 2100. Proceeded on surface, owing to adverse wind and using a street light instead of a pilot light. Was delayed, dived 25 yds from the breakwater and proceeded into harbor at 0200. Passing under or thro the boom net at 60 ft. continued up harbor, sighted main target, 8" gun cruiser at 0330. Placed charge just forward of "A" bracket, fuse set 0630. Placed limpet mines on three out of four destroyers of secondary target. Carried out unsuccessful search for fourth destroyer. 0500 too late to make rendezvous with S/M P.46. Decided to get out of harbor and scuttle, unable to find harbor entrance. 0530 Lt. Greenland out of oxygen, put him aboard motor launch secured to jetty. Placed scuttling charge on instrument panel and scuttled. Joined Lt. Greenland, had breakfast 0600, walked out of dockyard, into and out of Palermo. 1400 apprehended by Carrabiniere.
"Ferriere" awarded C.G.M. for above operation.
A Wife's Prayer
A lonely wife sat by the fireside one night,
Clasping her daughter's hand, ever so tight,
She gazed at the embers, then said she could see,
A picture of Daddy, now over the sea.
"Oh! Look there dear" she smilingly said,
"Can you see Daddy, in that little bit of red?"
"He looks so well and he's as brown as can be,
But I wish he were here and me on his knee."
The fire flamed up - this wife looked divine,
With her fine wavy hair and her blue eyes ashine,
"Oh God, please guard Hubby, don't let him despair"
This was this wife's fervent prayer.
A prisoner lay sleeping, in a land far away,
He'd been hungry and cheerless all thro that day,
But a smile creased his features as he lay in respose,
For God answered her prayer, as soon as it arose.
The wind went down with the sunset
And the fog came up with the tide
When the Witch of the North took an egshell
With a little blue devil inside
"Sink" she said, "Or swim" she said,
"It's all you will get from me,"
"And that's the end of him, she said
And the eggshell went to sea.
The wind got up with the morning
And the fog blew off with the rain
And the Witch of the North saw the eggshell
And the little blue devil again
"Did you swim?" she said, "Did you sink?" she said
And the little blue devil replied
"For myself, I swam, but I think," he said
There's somebody sinking outside."
OK 'til Friday the 13th, Bill!
All the best, Paddy
Goddess of Mercy
Goddess of mercy, in whose hand,
The charities of Jesus lie,
Thy goodness shadows every land,
Tho red the trench, tho black the sky.
See how we in exile raise,
Our grateful eyes in solemn prayer,
A sign that sisterhood put there.
Why, without thy far flung ministry,
Our days were longer, leaner - lost,
What the angels send us o'er the sea,
The symbol of the crimson cross.
Frank Stebbing, POW
June 4, 1940
We shall not flag nor fail, we shall go on to the end,
We shall fight in France and on the seas and oceans,
We shall fight with confidence and growing strength in the air,
We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be.
We shall fight on the beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets, and on the hills.
We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island, or a large part of it, were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the sea, "armed and guarded by the British Fleet", will carry on the struggle, until in God's good time, the New World, with all it's power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the old.
Sept. 25th, 1944
Lovings greetings, my dear, this day of '43
Tho I'm in exile o'er the sea,
Keep smiling Sweetheart and believe
In God and ultimate victory.
So from my heart I wish you well
Of everything you'd wish yourself,
Sincerely hoping that in '44
Together, to celebrate, your day for sure.
Do not worry and have no fear,
This war, the end, is very near,
Then home again, with you I'll be
To commemorate your day and victory.
Today, no nearer England's shore,
Your day slips by in '44
Another year perforce I send,
My greetings, my Love, without end.
Every time the sun goes down,
My thoughts return to you,
We're wandering thro dreamlands wonderland,
Our kiddies, myself, and you.
Laughingly, carefree, as of old,
Serene in the happiness always known,
Our thoughts, our words, all unfold,
This lasting love, that is our own.
Yet soon will dawn our great day,
When dreams will be a sweet refrain,
Of peace returned, please God to stay,
Our kiddies, you and I, as one, again.
Never more, shall we part,
As life's span is too short by far,
A day to spare from you, dear heart,
A lesson taught by war, not art.
So when all my dreams come true,
My fellow men cease to irritate,
This POW will no longer be blue,
For, ever together, our happy estate.
H.M. Submarine H.49
We left Harwich Oct.17, 1940, arriving off the Dutch coast the following day. About 1300 hours, we surfaced to take a sight, a few seconds afterward, the klaxon sounded and we crashed dived, got underway again. Bulkhead doors opened, word passed.. we were being hunted. Twenty minutes after, depth charges exploded. Engine room lights out, motors stopped, we hit the sea bed. A period of silence, bulkhead doors again opened, broken lights replaced. Report of hydroplane gland blown in, tube space flooded. Twenty minutes after first attack, pinging started again, more depth charges, attack lasting ten minutes. C.E.R.A. orders passing out of D.S.E.A. sets. Air pressure in engine room so high there was great difficulty in breathing. I heard some one venting the hatch, then must have lost consciousness for a few minutes. Seeing a round green light, I fought my way toward it, the air pressure being released, I was carried thro the hatch, fouling the jumping wire on my way up. I kicked free and reached the surface. After being twenty minutes in the water, I was picked up by a German A/S trawler, been taken into "Harlegan" from there to Wilhemskaven, to Thorn, Poland thence to Marlag.M. Five German A/S trawlers took part in this action. I was the only survivor and with no D.S.E.A. set, as I had to leave myself without, being one short, when serving them out.
The boat, later to be named H.M.S/M Saracen, was first laid down as H.M.S/M P.213. Thinking the 13 in the number to be tempting providence, a request was sent to the Admiralty for a change of number. This was granted and the boat became H.M.S/M P.247. It was not noticed that 2 + 4 + 7 = 13 and 247 is divisible by 13, 19 times. Her first operational patrol was in July 1943 and 13 months later at ten minutes to twelve on the night of Friday the 13th of August, the boat was spotted on the surface by enemy anti-submarine craft. Forced to dive, the ensuing action resulted in the boat being so badly damaged that the captain was forced to surface, abandon and finally sink the gallant little boat. Superstitious, you bet!
Marlag, Germany '44
An Ode to a Woman
Woman is the greatest of all contradiction,
An angel in truth - a devil in fiction,
She's afraid of a cockroach, she'll scream at a mouse,
But she'll tackle a husband as big as a house.
She'll take him for better, she'll take him for worse,
Split his head open and then be his nurse,
When he is well and can get out of his bed,
She'll take up the teapot and throw at his head.
She is faithful, deceitful, keen-sighted and blind,
Crazy and simple, cruel yet kind,
You'll fancy she's this, and find out she's that,
She'll play like a kitten, and scratch like a cat,
In the morning she will, in the evening she won't
You think that you know her, and find that you don't
A man is a man, alone he can stand,
But a woman is what? He'll never understand.
Tom Heath, H.M.S/M Sahib
Extracts Old and New
The widest land doom takes to part us leaves thy heart in mine,
With pulses that beat double. What I do
And what I dream include thee, as the wine
Must taste of it's own grapes. And when I see
God for myself, He hears that name of thine
And sees within mine eyes, the tears of two.
Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live.
So long as we are loved by others, we could almost say
that we are indispensable; and no man is useless
while he has a true friend.
Whatsoever you would laugh at in others, laugh at in yourself.
We tried the same two years ago,
To smash this Nazi's wall,
And tho we failed to overthrow,
We made a decent haul.
By haul, I mean statistics and types of craft to use,
The strength of Jerries' wire, the layout of the beach,
The calibre of his cannon, the timing of each fuse,
All this and more - they took - to learn - and then to teach.
And now it seems our effort - was worth it after all,
Yet while they took it from the land, - they didn't break the wall,
Now who did solve this problem? That's what I'm waiting for,
The men who died in forty-two - or the boys of forty-four.
See all, hear all, say now't,
Eat all, sup all, pay now't,
If ever tha does owt for now't,
Allus do it for thisen.
J.H. Harrison (Dieppe 19/8/42)
Some Sense ??
Just a little cradle,
Just a little child,
Just a few, fast fleeting years,
Then a boy so wild,
Soon he reaches manhood,
Then comes on old age,
Thus we have the journey from
The cradle to the grave.
Some Nonsense ????
You're so beautiful, you're like a rose,
I'm telling ya, an I'm a guy what knows,
Your eyes are like the shinin' stars,
Dey remind me of my Ma's,
I t'ink you're a swell kind of a goil,
I bet a neck like yours never had a boil!
Here's to Us
(With no apologies to the Big Ships)
Here's to the gallant submariners,
The boys with their torpedoes, by gad,
Those cool, imperturbable, calm, indisputable,
Nervy, inquisitive lads!
Each time they seek out enemy tubs,
Their marvellous deeds we should bless,
These bold, reprehensible, brave, indispensable,
Sensible lads of the subs.
But why do I talk of death?
That phantom of grisly bone,
I hardly fear his terrible shape,
It seems so like my own.
It seems so like my own,
Because of the fasts I keep,
O God! That bread should be so dear,
Yet flesh and blood so cheap!
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