Your Country Needs You

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Doug, a dear friend of mine, died recently at the age of 95.  In 1943, at the age of eighteen, he was drafted into the Royal Air Force and trained as a pilot. In the latter stages of World War Two he was posted to the Cocos Islands in the East Indian Ocean from where he carried out several missions.  At the end of the Far East War in September, 1945, he took part in the relief of Changi prison, the notorious Prisoner of War camp in Singapore where the Japanese interred many of their prisoners.

I have written this poem in an attempt to understand something of the situation which he and many other young men faced in those precarious times.   

TO  DOUG

Given a bomber at twenty one
A young man’s coming of age
Told to use it wisely
On the far east’s war-torn stage

A Lancaster
A lethal gift
To war’s sad sorry tale
An airborne killer
Sky high thriller
Death following in its trail

You grow up quickly in a war
No marking time
No second thoughts
Prevarication precluded
No time for rage
Get on with it
With reality engage

This his introduction
No subterfuge
With minimal instruction
No simulation
Taught to deliver destruction
Reality games now

Yes, young man,
Your country needs you
To fill the gaps left by those
Who bought it
– For their country –
Before you do the same

But, chin up
Soldier on
stiff lip and all that
Who knows
You may be home by Christmas

 

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Ground crews of No.356 Squadron RAF based at the Brown’s West Island, Cocos Islands, celebrate on hearing the news of the surrender of Japan.  (Published under the terms and conditions of the Imperial War Museum Non Commercial Licence, including use of the attribution statement specified by IWM. For this item, that is: © IWM (CI 1557)

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Bombs Away

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Retro Advert seen in a charity shop in Devon, UK … Photo – WHB 2016

Bombs Away . . . Keeping our boys Regular

A provocative
narrative
Re a sanative
laxative.

As an ex-airman I can say

Advertising ‘Bombs Away’

Should not be a cause of laughter

I have heard of nothing dafter.

I consider it a waste,

Certainly leaves a nasty taste.

This advert I would call a fail,

In fact it is beyond the pale.

So airmen of the world unite,

Stop them talking utter tripe.

Dropping Bombs is not a joke,

Save it for that Hitler bloke.

He’s the one deserves derision,

Not our brave boys on a mission.

Nothing regular about a war,

Always ends with blood and gore.

So don’t make fun of our boys in blue,

Or the next one missing could be you.

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