A TRIBUTE TO THE "SUPPLY"
BRANCH OF THE ROYAL NAVY
a branch you may not notice for their stations are below,
In the cubby holes and lobbies where the sailors do not go,
They were wont to call them "idlers" with a curious sense of fun,
For their watch was never ended and their work was never done,
They were always known as "Daymen" just because they slept at night,
Though they had to get some sleep in, and it didnt seem quite right.
galleys or the kitchens, in the bakeries and stores,
You may find them tending pots and pans or merely doing chores,
Mincing mutton in a hobart, kneading dough or scrubbing tins,
Stirring cocoa in a cauldron, shaking salmon from a tin,
Cooking tasty meals for officers, or plainer meals for men,
Six or seven in a galley only eighteen feet by ten.
often see them sitting in an office or a den,
Filling up strange forms with figures and a stylographic pen,
You can hear their busy fingers clicking far into the night,
Typing reams of flaccid foolscap by an insufficient light,
Taking half a dozen copies with a carbon wearing thin,
Or a hundred with a hectographic jelly in a tin.
setting out the tables for the officers to dine,
Serving tots of gin and bitters, mixing cocktails, bottling wine,
Meditating over menus in conjunction with the cook,
Making out the monthly mess bill, writing up the daily book,
From illegible inscriptions on soda sodden chits,
On a guest night staging banquets like a Carlton or a Ritz.
many thousand items in a modern vessels stores,
And they issue them by ounces and by hundred weights and scores,
You will see them on the messdeck, having tried the safety catch,
Swinging down a steel runged ladder, through a heavy armoured hatch,
To compartments filled with firebricks, sacks of flour and cotton waste,
Cabin furniture and bedding, frozen fish and potted paste.
ship goes into action their commitments do not stop,
They are wanted up the conning tower or in the spotting top,
Plotting splashes in the ocean, noting flashes in the sky,
In the surgeons first aid party, at the eight inch gun supply,
Passing cartridge, shells and cases, hoisting high explosive loads,
Turning P/L into cipher, using transposition codes.
smoker wants his baccy, if a topper wants his rum,
They produce it from a packing case or draw it from a drum,
If he lacks a feather pillow or a blanket for his bed,
If he needs a new souwester or a helmet for his head,
If he needs a black silk necktie or a flannel or a shoe,
He has only got to ask for it and sign a chit or two.
activities are endless, and they function all the time,
Unrecorded in the daily press uneulogised in rhyme,
In the background of the picture, in the outfield of the game,
In the shadows of the limelight, in the anterooms of fame,
You are apt to overlook them though they never swing the lead,
And theres never any searchlight focussed on their main masthead.