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I have been given the copy of a poem composed by a man who was a frequent visitor to Bishop Burton in 1939. He was Sub Lt. Peter Collingwood who was friendly with Doreen Young, the daughter of James Young the estates agent who lived in Woodridge House.

In April 1940 Peter was serving on board the anti-aircraft light cruiser H.M.S. Carlisle which, at that time was trying to give protection to the jetty at Namsos in Norway where they had landed troops and stores. His ship was being frequently attacked by German dive bombers and although not receiving a direct hit, suffered causalties through shrapnel from near misses and machine gunning, among those manning exposed positions. Peter was the gunnery control officer for one of the ships 4 inch anti-aircraft guns. This unfinished piece was penned, probably between attacks, and sums up the feelings of the crew.

When death comes slinking through the sea

And shrieking from the skies

And men can scarcely draw their breath

When panic stricken eyes

Gaze fearful, wondering at the hell

Created by a bursting shell.

 

Then God I pray that I may show

No fear, so that to the men who in me trust

May not from traitor members know

My limbs are as liquid and my heart is dust.

This unfinished poem was returned with his personal effects that included another poem, too long to quote, except for one verse

 

            There’s terror in the dark grey wave,

            And terror in the dark grey cloud,

            A sea grave is the deepest grave,

            And none return, or strong or brave,

            Wrapped in the salted shroud.

 

He died of wounds received during a later attack and was buried at sea off the Norwegian coast.  There is no doubt that he was a very gifted poet.

Peter is commemorated at the Chatham War Memorial and in a book dedicated to those who lost their lives at sea which is at the All Hallows by the Tower church in London.