The Forgotten Hero

The Forgotten Hero

The old man, stooped and shabby dressed,
With faded ribbons on his chest,
The clipped moustache, still neat, now grey,
A tribute to his yesterday.

He shuffles through the city streets,
Forgotten now, his selfless feats,
“Scramble A Flight!” A memory cries,
And once more, he’s in the skies.

Festooned with kit, and parachutes,
Leather jacket, fur-lined boots,
Sidcot suits and maps and charts,
Cracking jokes, and having larks.

The ops phone rings, and rest is over,
“B flight – Scamble, raid at Dover!”
Swallow tea, the lumbering run,
The Merlin’s running – now where’s the Hun?

Line her up, green light from the tower,
One deep breath, apply full power,
The mighty Merlin’s marvellous sound,
A rumble, bump, then off the ground

Look up sun, then left, then right,
“Close up, red two, and watch your height”
A glint, a flash – they’re just below,
Someone shouts “Tally Ho, Tally Ho!”

Mouth dry with fear, and stomach churning,
A Spit screams down, yellow flames, – Oh God it’s burning!
One in the ring sight, squeeze the tit, feel the shudder,
Hold the deflection, a little more on the rudder

The enemy’s hit, and rolls onto its back,
Spewing out smoke, thick, oily and black,
All of a sudden to the skies empty once more,
And gone in a heartbeat, the engines of war

Back in the mess there’s a binge in full swing,
Young men getting plastered with whiskey and gin,
The CO’s passed out, the adj is unstable,
Two drunken lads dance a waltz on the table

The horrors of war, overlooked for a night,
Tomorrow’s soon enough to get back to the fight
When once again hundreds of nineteen year old boys,
Will exchange a Spitfire for childhood and toys

So, now, old man, who gave your youth,
Must face the cold and ugly truth,
That battles fought in angry skies,
Have earned you but a pack of lies,

This England that you fought to save,
Has turned it’s back on those who gave,
A paltry pension, breadline existence,
Whilst thieves and thugs receive assistance

Old man with ribbons on your chest,
Clipped grey moustache, and shabby dressed
You’re not forgotten, you will not die,
Remembered still by us who fly

Mark Charlwood
06 June 1986

 

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