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THE GUN

In Bangor’s Ward park, County Down, is a German Submarine gun from U.B.19, to commemorate the exploits of the Hon. Edward Barry Stewart BINGAM RN who won the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Jutland on the 31stMay 1916. He was rescued from the sea by the German Navy after his ship HMS Nestor was sunk and he remained a prisoner of war until 1918.  He was later promoted to Rear Admiral and died at London in 1939.

This poem reflects on the gun, circumstances surrounding it and Lieutenant Commander Otto WEDDIGAN of the Imperial German Navy, who inflicted serious losses on the British Royal Navy whilst he was in command of submarines. Lieutenant Weddigen did not survive the Great War and perished with his crew in U.B.29 after attacking the British Grand Fleet on the 25thMarch 1915 as it returned to Scapa Flow.

 

THE GUN

 

A cannon from battles long in the past,

Engineered and rifled its death to cast;

Accoutrements missing, with vacant breech,

Quadrants calibrated to measure its reach.

 

‘Twas never meant a trophy to be,

The spoil of war for the foe to see;

Anchored now on its plinth of stone,

Shells on the sea long since sown.

 

This ‘Naval Piece’ from U.B. Nineteen,

That iron fish, both sleek and mean;

Challenged the might of the Royal Navy

From beneath the northern sea.

 

A Captain of such menace below,

Observed three Cruisers, unaware and slow;

Clearing torpedo tubes at each in turn,

He saw them sink, explode and burn.

 

Then a day came, no return from the deep,

Commander and crew in eternal sleep;

To serve the fatherland never again,

Gone their anguish, fear and pain.

 

A worthy tribute to a Bangor son,

Is one formidable assailant’s gun;

Remember those men in conflict cast,

Forever lost in the mist of the past.

 

Monty Alexander 26.2.97

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