Colin Ian Jeffery
Airgunner - Poem by Colin Ian Jeffery
My Uncle Stan was a sergeant air-gunner on Wellington bombers during the Second World War. He was a tail gunner and flew twenty-three missions over occupied Europe, and six over Berlin. The life expectancy of a rear-gunner was seven missions.
Wellington bomber's engines roar
Stench of burning oil
In darkness heavy plane rises.
There is no moon or stars only inky darkness
An icy cold chilling the soul.
Flying over the white cliffs of Dover
Fires guns - - testing them
Ready for German fighters
Swooping like hawks against the bomber
Darting from darkness guns blazing.
Over Holland joined with other bombers
Flying formation towards Germany
Searchlights seeking them
Ack-ack shells colouring the night
Trying to bring the bombers down.
Fighters like angry hornets sweep in
Bombers reach Berlin
Path-finders have lit-up the target
Below all seems a sea of fire
Hitler's punishment for London's blitz.
Bomb-aimer takes control of the plane
Guiding pilot over target
Where he presses the plunger
Bombs dropping screaming as they go
Exploding a factory making tanks.
Bomber makes two runs
Turns for home caught in searchlight glare
Illuminated for fighters and gunners
Too slow it tries climbs beyond the light
Swept with machine gun fire.
Burning bomber reaches England
Pilot dying, crew bloody and afraid
Crash landing on the airfield
Rear-gunner pulled from his turret
Weeping, he has survived another mission.
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