Thursday, November 11, 2010


My grandfathers hardly ever talked about their service during the war.  But it affected them deeply.

Most war poetry has been dulled by GCSE syllabus drudgery , but some of it is still very powerful.  Here is a poem written by Flt Lt Rupert 'Tiny' Cooling, which he recited during an excellent BBC documentary on Wellington Bombers (sadly, I think, not still on the iplayer).  He cried as he read it.  So did I.

This muster of names,
This directory of faceless, formless beings
Suffocates the mind.

Is it solely a tabulation as on
pages of Smith's in volume S to Z?
Or a company of friends
Awaiting recognition
Amidst a legion of Strangers?

In the quest, shadows emerge,
Forgotten faces relive
Brief moments of shared experience
And call upon yet others to be identified …

Now what became of him? And him?
And their names too are
carved in the roster.

I dare not look for my own,
it should be there.

Our Flight Commander, Hinks,
Quiet Ronnie Frost (he joined with me),
Young Naylor who was lost in the North Sea …
Was he twenty when he came into my room
and cried like a baby the night Bob Hewitt died,
leaving a pregnant wife?

Three weeks later
I helped to clear his room,
And found his Bible by his bed.

And, to cheer you up after that:

No comments: