Air Force Poetry
During 2024 we will be sharing Poems written by men who served in the Air Forces.
A new Poem will be posted each month by sharing an excerpt via our Newsletter & Social Media Channels.
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Reported Missing by John Bayliss
With broken wing they limped across the sky
caught in late sunlight, with their gunner dead,
one engine gone - the type was out-of-date -
blood on the fuselage turning brown from red:
knew it was finished, looking at the sea
which shone back patterns in kaleidoscope,
knew that their shadow would meet them by the way,
close and catch at them, drown their single hope:
sat in this tattered scarecrow of the sky
hearing it cough, the great plane catching
now the first dark clouds upon her wing-base
patching the great tear, in evening mockery;
so two men waited, saw the third dead face,
and wondered when the wind would let them die.
John Bayliss (1919-2008) was a British Poet & Literary Editor who served with the RAF during World War 2. Born in Gloucestershire he was an undergraduate of St Catherines College in Cambridge.
The Pilots' Paradise by O.C. Chave
High above Betelgeuse, they say,
Beyond Orion’s questing eyes,
Ten million star-strewn years away,
There hangs a pilots’ paradise.
Thither when airmen’s bodies fall
Their spirits climb on eager wing
To greet old comrades and recall
Old days of earthward sojourning.
They talk of flak, intruders, beams,
Of dummy runs and how to weave,
Sorties and Strikes, and tales like dreams
Which none but airmen would believe.
From aerodromes like cloth of green
Mid cloudless skies for ever blue
They sport themselves; and each machine
Is every morning bright and new.
And every pilot when he lands
Three-pointed sweeps the glossy lawn;
With young keen eye and strong young hands
He climbs to meet each glowing dawn.
What dawns are those, what noonday sun
From which no enemies descend,
What flights when duty here is done
To enter at your log-book’s end!
Flight Lieutenant Owen Cecil Chave (1912-1943) was the Son of Sir Benjamin Chave, K.B.E., and Lady Chave (m.s. Morgan), of Highfield, Southampton, he was married to Joan Sanders. Serving as a Pilot with 15 Squadron his Stirling Aircraft (BF448) was shot down by a night-fighter on the 14th Feb 1943 whilst taking part in an operation to Cologne. All seven of the crew lost their lives & are buried at Heverlee War Cemetery in Belgium.
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