Ken Marshall’s son wrote me this message to share on my blog…
This one was written by my Dad in 1944, and he later dedicated to one of his friends, Sgt. Reg Castle Hall, who went ‘Missing in Action’ on 5th December 1944. Dad served a full tour as the F/E on Geoff Saunders crew at Burn on 578 Sqdn, from April to the end of September, 1944.
You knew them when the skies were grey, those carefree chaps with soul so gay.
You knew them in the local inn, you took them home, you asked them in.
You’ve seen their crazy, happy games, you knew them all, but not their names.
You’ve seen them rolling back at night, ‘another crazy airman – tight’.
But did you know the other fellow, cool – though scared, he wasn’t yellow,
When he helped to fly a plane, he prayed that he’d come back again.
Yes, scared he was but on he flew, the night was cold and friendless too,
For out there in the inky black, were foemen waiting to attack.
He longed to see this horror through, he yearned to see his loved ones too,
The home he loves waits his return, ‘Pray God, tonight is not our turn.’
He sees the target up ahead, a stick of greens, the fading red,
The time has come to keep the date, ‘Press on you chaps, we can’t be late.’
His brow is cold, and yet it’s wet. ‘It’s too damn cold, it can’t be sweat.’
He feels his pulses beating fast, how much longer must this last?
A voice speaks – somewhere in the nose, ‘Left, left, steady – there she goes.’
The aircraft lifts, the bombs away, another little debt to pay.
The flak is rather heavy now, a little frown is on his brow.
A sudden jar, a burst of flame, a shell – it must have had his name,
He strives like mad to gain control, to get back home his only goal.
But all his struggles were in vain, they saw his prang, they felt his pain.
They came back home the tale to tell, how well he flew, how brave he fell.
Your eyes grow dim, you droop your head, you can’t believe that he is dead.
Your soul within you now is stirred, your mind recalls a poem you’ve heard,
He is not dead, he could not die, so young he was and gay,
So gallant and so brave a soul could never pass away.
Ken W Marshall, DFC.
Please note that the word ‘gay’ in this poem is used in the sense of its original true meaning (Happy and carefree). NOT what it has come to mean today.