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Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War

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Chief Skipper Martin Fielding, RNR, provided what he termed "a bit of doggerel" for the use of Dorling, T. ("Taffrail") in his 1935 publication Swept Channels: Being an account of the work of he minesweepers in the Great War. It relates to a real incident in the minesweeper 452, the Vindelicia

'Now gather round, my hearties, and listen to this tale.

How the 452, a minesweeper, was diddled by a whale.

'Twas off the Point of Flambro' a submarine was spied;

It looked a very large one, upon our starboard side.


Now submarines are funny things, and this one was a Hun.

The 452 was eager; but we hadn't got a gun.

So we gave the information to the captain of a sloop

Who had a good quick-firer a-mounted on his poop.


The sloop sent up a signal, which gave us quite a rub,

"Investigate strange object, and see if it's a sub."

Our skipper got his pistol, getting ready for the fray,

"Remember it's promotion, also lots of extra pay!"


Away we steamed toward it, all out to give it hell,

And were about to ram it, when we smelt a fearsome smell,

He hadn't got no gas-masks, and the look-out calmly said,

"Why, it's a blinkin' whale, sir. It's been a long time dead!"'


From Dorling, Captain T. (Taffrail), 1938. Swept Channels. p226