Poem for a Rear Gunner and A Gunner's Vow



Poem for a Rear Gunner and A Gunner's Vow


Two poems, the first written by Ted Russell, the second unknown.






Two printed sheets


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MWestonF126909-161113-030001, MWestonF126909-161113-030002


Poem For a Rear Gunner

Tonight I go out, come back I may
For that is a problem, on which nobody can say,
If that is my fate, then that's OKAY
Although I should like to live, yet another day.

Halfway to heaven, up in the sky
Or as near to the other, if I'm going to fry,
At least we have an original shroud
The dying sun whitens the lowering cloud.

The engines blend in constant sound
Far below, the darkening ground,
A yellow moon, no more daylight
A false sense of security to fright
I wonder what they are doing at home
Probably like me, she is alone.

This REAR TURRET, so remote and small
Contains a man, not so tall
Controlling four guns at his will
His deadly purpose is to kill

Approaching the target, a reddish glare
An aircraft in front, drops its flare
And now the flak comes up in streams
Surely a hideous fancy of my dreams

But No, No, I am awake
A difficult objective, no piece of cake
My nerves are tense, I strain my eyes
At any moment, Death may strike from these dark skies.

A shadowy blur, My word one of these huns
I give him a burst from all of my guns
He disappears' into the gloom,
Who knows! Perhaps to his doom.

Our bombs go down with adept skill,
A few holes in the morning Jerry can fill
Now, lets get out of this wilderness
To a glass of beer in the nice warm mess.

It seems I am going to keep our date
Find you rigid, for being late
Now let me see that's my number five
I can shoot a few lines on being alive.

The light grey sky, the sleeping towns
The very English wavy downs
Shrouded in early morning mist our 'drome
Who care's, not I, we are at home

A Poem written by Ted Russell (Navigator) for Jack Leigh (Rear-Gunner) 624 Squadron in 1944

[page break]


I wish to be a pilot
And you along with me,
But if we all were pilots,
Where would the Air Force be?
It takes guts to be a gunner;
To sit out in the tail
When the Messerschmitts are coming,
And the slugs begin to wail,
The pilot's just a chauffeur,
It's his job to fly the plane;
But it's we who do the fighting
Though we may not get the fame.
If we all must be gunners,
Then let us make this bet --
We'll be the best damned gunners,
Who have left this station yet.

~ Author unknown ~



Ted Russell, “Poem for a Rear Gunner and A Gunner's Vow,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 21, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/35616.

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