Now each of us from time to time, has gazed upon the sea.
And watched the warships pulling out, to keep this country free.
And most of us have read a book, or heard a lusty tale.
About the men who sail these ships, through lightening, wind and hail.

But there’s a place within each ship, that legend fails to reach.
It’s down below the waterline, it takes a living toil-
A hot metal living hell, that sailors call the “HOLE”.

It houses engines run by steam, that make the shafts go ’round.
A place of fire and noise and heat, that beats your spirits down.
Where boilers like a hellish heart, with blood of angry steam
Are of molded gods without remorse, are nightmares in a dream.

Whose threat that from the first roar, is life living doubt,
That any minute would with scorn, escape and crush you out.
Where turbines scream like tortured souls, alone and lost in hell,
As ordered from above somewhere, they answer every bell.

The men who keep the fires lit, and make the engine run.
Are strangers to the world of night and rarely see the sun.
They have no time for man or God, no tolerance for fear,
Their aspect pays no living thing, the tribute of a tear.

For there’s not much that men can do, that these men haven’t done.
Beneath the decks, deep in the holes, to make the engines run.
And every hour of every day, they keep their watch in hell,
For if the fires ever fail, their ship’s a useless shell.

When ships converge to have a war, upon an angry sea,
The men below just grimly smile, at what their fate might be.
They’re locked in below like men fore doomed, who hear no battle cry,
It’s well assumed that if they’re hit, the men below will die.

For every day’s a war down there when the gauges all read red,
Twelve hundred pounds of superheated steam, can kill you mighty dead.
So if you ever write their sons, or try to tell their tale,
the very words would make you hear, a fired furnace’s wail.

These men of steel the Public never gets to know
So little’s heard about the Place, that sailors call the hole.
But I can sing about the place, and try to make you see
The hardened life of men down there, cause one of them is me.

I’ve seen these sweat soaked heros fight, in superheated air.
To keep their ship alive and right, though no one knows they’re there.
And thus they’ll fight for ages on, til steamships sail no more,
Amid the boiler’s mighty heat and turbines hellish roar.

So when you see a ship pull out to meet a warship foe.
Remember faintly, if you can, the men who sail below.

Author unknown, but no doubt an old snipe.



I am a 77 year old retired Northrop-Grumman Corp. Facilities Engineer. I worked at Northrop's Pico Rivera and Palmdale facilities for a total of 13 years, and retired 1n 1995. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for over 54 fantastic years, and we have 3 excellent children (all boys) 7 wonderful grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild. My hobbies are playing the piano (actually, more like learning HOW to play the piano) and restoring a 1937 Plymouth, although sadly, I have made very little progress on it in recent years. I drove road race go-karts until the age of 71. I never grew up, I just got old.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A SNIPES LAMENT

  1. Bill Snipes says:

    A great web page, Junior, and one to which I can relate. I sailed in the merchant marine and am retired from the Dept. of the Navy (Puget Sound Naval Shipyard). I had a friend who restored a 1938 DeSoto and I wish you would post of photo of your Plymouth, just because I too, love old cars (I’m 72). Oh, and I am a real Snipes in more ways than one. . . . .

    Bill Snipes
    Bremerton WA

    • JUNIOR says:

      Hi Bill,
      With a name like that, I just made you an Honorary Snipe. Did you check out the entire USS Hyman Snipes site, or just the one page? If you want to check the entire site, here’s the link. http://www.usshymandd732snipes.wordpress.com My Plymouth is nothing to look at right now, with fenders removed, interior gutted, and the body in primer, but I’ll post it after it’s completed. Thanks for writing. Cheers. Junior

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s