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Death of a Piper

Piper Alpha survivor John Fyvie’s reflections on the disaster that killed 167 people
John Fyvie, Friday, August 17th, 2018

The following poem was written by John Fyvie, a Piper Alpha survivor. It was recited by Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell at this week’s Reflections on Piper Alpha conference in Aberdeen.


Come in a standby vessel,

it’s Alpha Sixteen.

It’s a comfort to know

that you’re there on the scene.


I’ve a desperate feeling

this midsummer’s night,

There’s a stillness unusual,

Something’s not right.


The dayshift is sleeping,

the hour is nine.

There’s a valve that is missing

on a high-pressure line.


The stillness is broken,

what a terrible howl.

Demented and rabid,

like wolves on the prowl.


The gas it’s escaping,

now fire teams wait.

There’s a call for a muster

but I fear it’s too late.


An inferno is raging.

God! I’m standing alone.

The steel it is melting

like flesh from our bone.


Oh! The fire it is spreading

and panic is rife.

A scaffolder cries out

then jumps for his life.


Look! Here comes the Tharos.

But it’s doing no good.

Now black smoke engulfs us,

like a hanging man’s hood.


There’s men going crazy

and screaming in pain.

The sound of the dying,

it drives me insane.


Up on the derrick

a roughneck, in vain,

screams for his mother

to come ease the pain.


Another explosion.

God! That makes it three.

The quarters we lived in

now slide in the sea.


Inside, men are weeping,

not really in fear.

The thoughts that torment them

are of folk they hold dear.


For never to see them

saddens their heart.

For the death and oblivion

will keep them apart.


And now, Occidental

your debt you must pay.

For the death and the sorrow

you caused on that day.


God! I hate all those bastards

who don’t give a damn.

Oil bosses and Thatcher

we know you’re a sham.


A word of condolence

then you leave us to grieve,

while you sit in your penthouse

and laugh up your sleeve.


So, remember the Piper

you, who are to blame,

when you’re sent to the Devil

to burn in his flame.


To the lads of the Piper,

you’ve not died in vain.

We’ll remember you always

and inherit your pain.


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