A Gunner’s Vow

A friend sent me this poem.

I wish to be a pilot
And you along with me,
But if we all were pilots,
Where would the Air Force be?
It takes guts to be a gunner;
To sit out in the tail
When the Messerschmitts are coming,
And the slugs begin to wail,
The pilot’s just a chauffeur,
It’s his job to fly the plane;
But it’s we who do the fighting
Though we may not get the fame.
If we all must be gunners,
Then let us make this bet —
We’ll be the best damned gunners,
Who have left this station yet.

Author Unknown


An Air Gunner’s Lament

Posted by Ken Marshall

So time for a poem. This was one was written by Sqdn.Ldr. ‘Dusty’ Miller, an air gunner who flew with 38, 69, 115, 148 and 458 Squadrons. He certainly got around and I’d love to know how many ops he completed. It was written, I think, when he was a Sgt. Air Gunner, before he reached his later rank.



You helped ’em get their DFCs
And, now and then odd OBEs
Whilst down the back you sit and freeze
And just press on rewardless.

It seems to be a pilot’s war,
They go on rest – you do four more;
But belt up son, you know the score,
You’ll just press on rewardless.

It would be nice to win more rings
All up your sleeve – or gongs and things;
But till you wear a pilot’s wings,
You’ll just press on rewardless.

And when I reach St.Peter’s door,
It won’t be long, I feel quite sure,
He’ll ask « Just what are you here for?
Shove off Jack. » – Still rewardless.

‘Not Forgotten Lady’


`Not Forgotten Lady’

We first met in 1944, when I was twenty years old.

She was much younger than I, but I took, to her on first sight.

There was no reaction from her, but then I didn’t expect there would: be.

The relationship, as far as she was concerned, was of a working nature,

As long as I carried out my part of the bargain to the best of my ability I would hear no complaint from her.

Her function was to carry out the purpose for which she and I had been engaged

And in doing just that, we would get along fine together.

We didn’t spend all our time in each other’s company,

I often went out with my pals

Whilst she was occasionally taken out by someone else.

This arrangement in no way affected the close relationship which was forged between us.

I was with her on the eve of my twenty-first birthday and we didn’t get back home ‘til early next morning.

There were times when our partnership hit a rough patch and if it had not been for her tenacity, all my efforts might have been to no avail

The relationship lasted for just over four months, when I was obliged to move on

She passed into partnership with one of my colleagues after I left.

It is now over forty-seven years since we severed our relationship, but I shall never forget her as long as I live.

Farewell- LK809, ‘H-How’ Halifax Mk.III

– ‘One of the very best!’

Ken W Marshall DFC (1991)


Untitled Poem

Shared by Ken Marshall


Painting by Nico M. Peeters

I suppose they’ll say his last thoughts were of simple things.
Of April back home and the late sun on his wings.
Or that he murmured someone’s name,
As earth reclaimed him sheathed in flame.
Oh God! Let’s have no more of empty words,
Lip service ornamenting death!
The worms don’t spare the hero;
Nor can children feed upon resounding praises of his deed.
« He died who loved to live, » they’ll say,
« Unselfishly so we might have today! »
Like hell! He fought because he had to fight;
He died, that’s all. It was his unlucky night.






Absent Friends


A poem shared by Steve Allen

Absent Friends

Still, I see them marching by
One by one,
Though I know their lives have gone
One by one
But they sing a happy song •••••
And they call: “It won’t be long –
Till you are marching – singing – with us,
One by one

And they tell us to be cheerful and be glad.
Sing and drink and laugh away,
Don’t be sad.
Drink another one for me
For very soon you’ll be
Marching here with us – you’ll see!
One by one

I see them in their flight
As off they go.
Dark in the fading light,
In sunset’s glow.
And I hear the Merlin’s roar,
As to the clouds they soar
Heading out towards the Ruhr,
One by one.

They were young – just boys – but men,
So long ago
Just how they all were then
We surely know
They would smile to hear us sing,
As we make the rafters ring;
Maybe – they all join in •••
One by one.


« Ops on » by Ken W. Marshall DFC


“Ops On”

I dreamed last night I was back again, with the chaps once again I stood;

There was Trev and Jimmy and Gordie – and: Dick in serious mood

Geoff and Jack in a huddle, checking the course and the height,

Making a note of the weather, ‘Buttoning the job up tight.’

The Winco giving his ‘Pep’ talk, Intelligence giving the ‘Gen’,

The Met bloke with the usual Bull, ‘Good cover chaps – bout Ten-Ten’,

But clearing up at the target, giving a spot-on view. ‘

‘OK chaps’ says the Wingco, ‘Best of luck now it’s up to you.’

Out we stream to the crew truck, around the perimeter track,

Off at the kite and start checking, Where’s that b– trolley-acc?’

Give the old engines a warm up, check, them to see they’re OK,

Ground crew busy around us, ‘Right chaps -Chocks away!’

Taxi her round to the runway, ‘There goes the green, this is it.’

Roll her on for the take off, check her for maximum power,

Check skipper’s safety belt fastened; take one last look at the Tower.

Geoff puts the power on slowly, the ‘Old girl’ responds with a will,

We swiftly climb into the darkness, ‘a Night hawk out for the kill’.

– written by Ken ‘Watson Marshall DFC (1949)

The third and final one of Ken Marshall’s  poem next Monday.

`Not Forgotten Lady’


Ken Marshall is sharing a poem

This was written by an air gunner, Harry Brown of 50 and 223 Sqdns after a visit to a Remembrance Service in the little Dutch town of Dronten with the Air Gunners Association.

Ken Marshall



We did not weep – nor count the cost,
As one by one our friends were lost.
Nor wept we when the war’s great toll
Took all the best of our young men.
We did not weep as we saw them go
Down to the storm of the mighty foe,
We did not weep – not once – not then,
Nor in the years to come,
When on parade to do them honour,
Came Kings and Queens and Chiefs of state
In pomp and splendour to relate,
How their cause was just and justified
By the freedom bought as they fought and died.

We did not weep, not once – until,
In a little Dutch town, in a silence still;
The children came to honour our dead
Quietly – from out of the crowd,
With just a few flowers – their little heads bowed,
In a line they came to lay them down
By the Lancaster prop – in Dronten Town.
And then – and then – despite our will,
We felt our watching eyes o’erfill
With tears – and yet we smiled.
How great the power of an innocent child.