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Poetry of Direct Personal Experience
Our Collection of Aviation and Military Poetry

Another Op
Unknown

Bumping down the runway

With the turret on the beam,

Flashing past well-wishers

Lit by the drem’s dull gleam.


The pulling of the stomach

As we slowly climb on track

Setting course to eastward –

How many will come back?


The clipped command to alter course

As we cross the Anglian shore,

Then extinguish navigation lights

As the engines increase their roar.


The throbbing of the engines

Disturbs the fading light

As onward, ever onward

We fly into the night.


Routine settles to a rhythm,

And those ‘up front’ dictate

The course, the speed, the height

And the passage of our fate.


Searching ever searching,

The turret turns to and fro,

Looking, always looking

For our enemy and foe.


The sound of throbbing engines

Envelopes our immediate night,

And the clammy taste of oxygen

As I adjust the dull ring sight.


A quiet statement from the Nav –

‘Enemy coast a head’,

The blood flows quicker thro’ the veins –

Our training stifles the dread.


Searching ever searching,

For that darker smudge of black.

Looking for the fighter

That could stop us getting back.


The Nav again is heard to say

‘Target. Dead ahead’.

The tightening of the stomach

Is the only sign of dread.


As a lonely, cold rear gunner

I always face the rear

And never see the target.

Till the aircraft’s there.


Flying ever closer, closer

To that awful scene.

Every nerve is strung so tight

You stifle the need to scream.


The observer now takes full control

And by his directed call

Keeps the tingling nerves on edge

Till he lets the bomb load fall.


With the sudden upward lift

We all expect the worst,

But heave a sigh of intense ‘relief

As the aircraft changes course.


Nose well down and increased speed

To escape from that dreadful sight.

We race across the crimson sky

To the safety of the night.


As those up front now search the sky

For the fighter that lurks in the dark

While I at last see the target fires

Where we have left our mark.

Reproduced with kind permission of  Broody’s War

The poem was found in a collection of items of his Grandfather -  it is not known who wrote it. Perhaps you do?

Rear gunner

Tail Gunner

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 • Last Modified: 03 July 2015, 11:11