The Unveiling of the Bomber Command Association’s Statue of Sir Arthur Harris

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Poster by Ken Marshall

Poem written by Ken J. W. Marshall shortly after the unveiling of the Bomber Command Association’s statue of Sir Arthur Harris, by H.M. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on Sunday, 31st May, 1992.

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In Memoriam

We’ve erected a statue to Harris, we’ve unveiled a statue of ‘Butch’.

Our governments couldn’t be bothered, for a man who gave Britain so much.

We’ve erected a statue of Harris, the men of Bomber Command

Butch’s ‘Old Lags’ have never forgotten the man for whom they’d still stand

But it’s not just a statue of Harris, it’s in memory of all those who died,

The fifty-five thousand five hundred who gave of their all for ‘our side’.

It’s a constant reminder of honour, standing up there in the Strand

Of the selfless devotion to duty by the men of Bomber Command.

We’ve erected our statue of Butch, a leader of stature so tall.

We’ve put up a memorial to Harris, who did what he did for us all

A symbol of all our endeavours, a memorial to all those who fell.

To a man who did what he had to, and he did it so bloody well.

The Germans and others objected, from somewhere they found the sheer gall,

To complain that we shouldn’t remember the man who made Germany fall

They all got up and protested; with moans about Dresden, Cologne

And Berlin and quite a few others, forgetting the guilt that they own.

And what if that shiny black jackboot had been on the other foot?

They’d have erected their statues to Goering, and Goebbels and Hitler to boot.

But they wouldn’t have confined them to Deutschland that we all could tell,

They’d have stuck them in occupied countries, we’d have had them in London as well!

We could understand all the furore, if we’d put Harris up over there.

If we’d stuck him in Essen or Hamburg, somewhere we’d bombed from the air.

But we’ve erected this statue of Harris, we’ve put him outside Clement Danes.

We’ve put him up here in London, which was bombed by Luftwaffe planes.

We’ve erected our Memorial to Harris and to each and every ‘Old Lag’,

For the things we remember and others we can’t, that at our memories nag.

Yes, we’ve unveiled our statue of Harris, it’s up there so noble and new,

For the chaps whom we knew that didn’t come back, it’s for them and Bert Harris too.

‘Not Forgotten Lady’

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`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)

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« Ops on » by Ken W. Marshall DFC

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“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’

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Bomber Command by Ken W. Marshall DFC

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.

Bomber Command

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.

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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.

The Pilot by Philip Nicholson

Ken Marshall, whose father was a Flight Engineer with RAF 578 Squadron, posted this poem on a Facebook page.

This poem was written by a gentleman called Philip Nicholson. Ken knows nothing more about the author. The poem is about…

THE PILOT

Who is the man up front, this Driver-Airframe?

Pilot? Captain? What’s in a name?

Let’s say he’s just another member of the crew

But this description will not do. He’s trained to fly this kite – agreed.

But more, much more, he’s there to lead: To bring us back, unscathed and sane,

Not once, but time and time again.

We looked to him for miracles of mind and will.

For deeds beyond the range of human skill:

What words of ours describe him well?

No words suffice: we called him Skip and followed him to Hell.

This is Ken’s father.

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Ken W. Marshall DFC (courtesy Ken Marshall)

Ken W. Marshall DFC wrote some poems also.

I will show you more next time. Meantime here are some pictures from my collection of pilots with 425 Alouettes.