“Servigliano Calling” Poem #32

This is another of Cpl. D. Nevitt’s eight poems in Robert Dickinson’s journal.

Like several of the corporal’s other poems, “Escarpment Escapade” is a ballad of an event during the war.

Escarpment Escape:
An account of the June encounter

The dawn broke clear and crimson,
With a halo of golden rays,
As the Tommies woke up early,
For this was a day of days.
Today the “Wops” and “Jerries”,
Were to get a big surprise,
And not a pleasant one at all
By the look in those soldiers’ eyes.

At zero hour the trucks moved off,
Arcoss the yellow sand,
The sight they made, dispersed for miles,
Was nothing short of grand.
The men all joked as usual,
And sang any old refrain,
Although they knew that some of them
Would ne’er see dawn again.

They stopped, at last, to let the tanks
Wake Jerry from his bed,
He didn’t get hot coffee that morn,
But hot lead instead.
For above the roar of artillery.
Came the Besa’s deadly rattle,
And the men slide on their bayonets,
Then charged into the battle.

The Jerries lay inside their holes
And tried to make a stand,
You should have seen the fireworks
As we charged across the sand.
There were Tommy guns and Bren guns,
Anti-tanks and rifles too,
With the usual grenades and pistols,
Just to mention but a few.

But as that ring of steel came nearer,
They surrendered straight away,
And you should have seen their prisoners
At the end of that first day.
Although the men were tired
Of bullet, bomb, and shell,
Before the darkness had fallen
Fort Capusso was ours as well.

Next day, attacks were numerous
By Stukas and Messerschmeidts,
But they kept high when Beaufort guns
Had blown a few to bits.
And although British blood had made
Those yellow sands dark red,
For every British body, there were
Lots more Germans dead.

The weather was hot and scorching,
The men were parched with thirst,
But before they meant to turn it in,
They’d get the Germans first.
But outnumbered they appeared to be,
By almost four to one,
And had to withdraw that very day,
Nothing else could be done.

The sands of Sollum are yellow,
The desert empty and bare,
But in places it is holy,
There are Tommies buried there.
They gave their lives for freedom,
So that this war would cease,
So take your hats off to these men,
May their bones rest there in peace.