Another 'Op'



Another 'Op'


A poem about flying operations.



Three typewritten sheets


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MGilbertAC186764-161013-010001, MGilbertAC186764-161013-010002, MGilbertAC186764-161013-010003


[underlined] Another 'Op'. [/underlined]

Bumping down the runway
With the turret on the beam,
Flashing past wellwishers
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 ahead',
The blood flows quicker thro' the veins –
Our training stifles the dread.

[page break]

Searching, ever searching
For that darker smudge of black,
looking for the fighter
That could step 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 worse,
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.

[page break]


The kite at last is cloaked by night
As I my vigil keep
Feeling relief I'm still alive
And the strong desire to sleep.

The journey home drones on and on
As the sky gets lighter.
Yet still we scan from beam to beam
For the flak and the odd night fighter.

When the skipper is heard to say -
'Enemy coast ahead'.
The tension eases for us all
With the cold, the fear and the dread.

Then we cross the anglian coast
And see our lighted drome.
Lower wheels then full flap
And we touch the soil of home.

With rum and tea, a welcome smoke,
Tired and weary too
We smile amongst ourselves and say –
'That's one less op to do!'


“Another 'Op',” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 28, 2024,

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