The Cruel Sea, by Nicholas J.T. Monsarrat – 1953 [Ray Pease]

the-cruel-sea-nicholas-monsarrat-1953-ray-pease_edited-1So their battle ended, and so,
all over the Atlantic, the fighting died –
a strangely tame finish,
after five and a half years of bitter struggle.
There was no eleventh-hour,
death-or-glory assault on shipping,
no individual attempt at piracy after the surrender date:
the vicious war petered out in bubbles,
blown tanks, a sulky yielding, and the laconic order:
“Follow me.”
But no anti-climax, no quiet end,
could obscure the triumph and the pride inherent in this victory,
with its large cost –
thirty thousand seamen killed,
three thousand ships sent to the bottom in this one ocean –
and its huge toll of seven hundred and eighty U-boats sunk,
to even the balance.

It would live in history,
because of its length and its unremitting ferocity:
it would live in men’s minds
for what it did to themselves and to their friends,
and to the ships they often loved. 
After all, it would live in naval tradition,
and become legend,
because of its crucial service to an island at war,
its price in sailor’s lives, and its golden prize –
the uncut lifeline to the sustaining outer world.