The Men Who Sail Below

This article contributed by Donna Toney after her husband, Hugh Toney BT3,
passed away.  She found it in Hugh's collection of Navy items.  It was written
during WWII by one or more members of the Engineering Division of the
USS Borum DE-790.

                              "The Men Who Sail Below"

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 book, or heard a lusty tale,
About the men who sail these ships thru lightening, wind and hail,
But there's a place within each ship, that legend fails to teach.

It's down below the waterline, it takes a living toll,
A hot metal, living hell, that sailors call "The Hole."
It houses engines run by oil, that the shafts go 'round,
A place of fire, noise and heat, that beats your spirits down.
Where engines like a hellish heart, beat until you scream.
Are of molded gods without remorse, are nightmares in a dream.

Whose threat that from the engine's roar, is like living doubt,
That any minute would like 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.
And men who keep the fires lit, and make the engines 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 hole, to make the engines run.
And every hour of every day, they keep the watch in hell,
For if the power ever fails, the ship's a useless shell.

When warships converge to have a war, upon an angry sea,
The men below just grimly smile, at their fate might be.
They're locked 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' a war down there, when the gauges all read red,
A loss of oil and bearings seize, thrown rods can kill you dead.

So if you ever write your sons, or try to tell their tale,
Your every word would make them hear, a labored engines wail.
An people, as a general rule, don't hear of the men of steel.
So little's heard about the place that's closest to the keel.
But I can sing of this place, and try to make you see,
The hardened life of men down there, because one of them is me.

I've seen these sweat soaked heroes fight, in superheated air,
To keep their ships alive and right, though no one knows they're there.
And thus they'll fight for ages on, 'til warships sail no more,
Amid the monster's mighty heat, the engine's hellish roar.
So when you see a ship pull out, to meet a warlike foe,
Remember faintly, if you can, the men who sail below.

Black Gang
USS Borum (DE 790)
'43 - '46


WWII Era | Korea War & '50s | Viet Nam & 60s |  Reunions | All Links Page  Search & Rescue

Memorial | Poetry  | Enemy Below | Taps List | Photos/Armament | History | Crews Index | Home