Friday, 6 July 2012

Saluting Bomber Command

[Update May 16th 2018]: On the night of 16-17 May 1943, the RAF's 617 Squadron carried out an audacious bombing raid attacking dams serving the Ruhr valley, leaving German factories and mines badly damaged.] RT

On June 28th, almost 70 years after the end of the war, Her Majesty the Queen unveiled a memorial in London’s Green Park to remember those men from the UK and all over the Commonwealth who served with Bomber Command during World War 2; it is in bronze by sculptor Philip Jackson.

Thousands of brave young men died to bring all of us peace in our time, and it is only fitting they should have their own memorial here at last.  They helped bring Hitler’s Third Reich to its knees and, yes, cities like London, Berlin, Coventry and Dresden suffered terribly, but such is the awful tragedy (and reciprocity) of war.

This poem is a villanelle that I wrote to mark the occasion and will include in a final collection - Diary of a Time Traveller - scheduled for publication in 2015 (when I will be 70).


Where Bomber Command once flying
the gamut of heavens and hell;
so many young men, so few returning

Among birds of prey, resolutely diving
a ghastly, deadly, smoky swell
where Bomber Command once flying

For many, no glorious homecoming
nor a single passing bell;
so many young men, so few returning

No glory, only necessity in the bombing
and a faith that peace will prevail
where Bomber Command once flying

Haunting the brave veterans surviving,
a face for every bomb that fell;
so many young men, so few returning

Our thanks, far too long in the waiting,
its last crew, a fitting memorial;
where Bomber Command once flying,
so many young men, so few returning

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

A Lancaster bomber dropped 82,000 poppies over London to remember those who died. 

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