On ANZAC DayApril 25, 2010 at 2:11 am | Posted in Society, War and Conflict | 2 Comments
Tags: Anzac Day, duty, flying, heroes, responsibility, war
Today is ANZAC Day in Australia, where we remember the fallen of the wars in which we have been involved. Particularly, society remembers Anzac Cove in Turkey, where Aussie and Kiwi troops endured their first major, and bloody engagements.
The following poem, “At The Museum”, is dedicated to my Dad.
He was a fighter pilot in the Defence of Britain during the Second World War, and the poem is based on actual occurrences from that time. My husband and I took Dad to the Air Museum at Narellan in May 2005 so that he could be with planes again. Though he is almost completely blind, he could see those planes in his mind’s eye – as they were when he flew them – and he marvelled at what he had done then. It was a coincidence that examples of the first and the last planes that he had flown were actually standing side by side on the floor. That is what gave me the inspiration to write the poem, and the opening lines.
When Dad “read” the poem, he said that I had taken a lot of poetic licence, and that he was nothing special. Maybe he is right – in the context of those days. There were a great many heroes then who would have scorned that title we give them today. Many fought and died. Many were wounded in body and or spirit. All were affected in some way, though in their own eyes they were just men doing their duty.
I think of them as heroes. And my Dad was one of them.
At the Museum
Vultee Vengeance and Tiger Moth
Stand side by side on the floor.
He looks at them now with a different view,
To how he had viewed them before.
He’d wanted to fly since he’d been a boy,
And with the misfortune of war got his chance.
In the machines that he flew, as his confidence grew,
He learned how to make those planes dance.
Many planes Britain used in defence and attack,
And many of these he was able to fly in.
Tiger Moth to Oxford; then Tempest and Typhoon –
But the Hurricane was the best plane to fight in.
He looks up at the Vengeance and wonders aloud
How he’d climbed up there as if on a bike;
To fly that machine with great skill and élan,
Firing machine guns and cannon alike.
He was a daredevil, and he wouldn’t deny it,
But he learned to control his high spirits.
He’d seen too many mates die when they’d lived too high,
And he’d vowed to himself he’d come through it.
The pride of the squadron he’d quickly become
Because of his skill and his daring.
He could make a plane do just what he wanted it to,
But it was because of his great love of flying.
He remembered one flight where he’d encountered a storm
And the visibility was down to near nothing.
He’d found the runway through the shining “chance” light,
And his landing, though rough, was quite stunning.
At least twice he’d flown on when he should have turned back,
With a plane whose condition was dicey.
He’d kept to the flight so he’d not miss the dance,
And his sheer skill had got it through safely.
He looked now at those planes standing next to each other,
The small Moth and the big fighter bomber,
And he marvelled again at what he used to do then
With these, the first and the last planes that he’d flown.
(c) Linda Visman. Originally written 21st July 2005
25th April 2010
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