MY PASSAGE OUT TO SEA

This first appeared in issue #1 of 'History Notes', compiled by the late Phillip Bruce. It is reproduced here on Gwulo by kind permission of Mr Bruce's family.

The following poem has been provided by Bob Yates. It was written in Shamshuipo camp by Lieutenant Alan Potter, of the First Battalion, The Royal Scots, who fought in the 1941 battle.


My prison window opens out, upon a vista wide.
An island-studded harbour with hills on every side,
and right ahead, aye calling me,
an open passage to the sea.

My prison house is fenced around with lines of knotted wire,
and weaponed guards keep vigil there to foil my heart's desire.
'Tis naught, for fancy lets me free
through yonder channel out to sea.

When morning breaks along the hills and floods the bay with light,
I rise from my dream-haunted bed, and first direct my sight,
where running tide goes flowing free,
through that blest channel out to sea.

And when the sun's flaming ball, stoops westward to his bed,
and Tsing-I Isle stands castle-like against the flaming red,
and sunset streams beckon me
to sail that passage out to sea.

When night enshrouds the silent camp and slumber holds me fast,
'Midst all the dreams of distant ones that conjure up the past,
the constant vision comes to me,
of that near channel out to sea.

Though comfort small this place affords, my constant joy is found,
in all the sweep of hill and bay, that rings our camp around.
And for supremest luxury,
I have my passage out to sea.

In self-same manner is our life, in narrow limits cast.
In action cramped, with vision wide, our mortal days are passed.
But freedom for eternity,
waits through that channel out to sea.


Alan Potter left Shamshuipo camp in 1943 on board the Lisbon Maru bound for Japan. The ship was torpedoed near Shanghai and he died.

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