Tag Archives: war

1939

She did not weep,
nothing so soft or poetic,
my grandmother sobbed long and hard
remembering war-crippled brothers, war dead father.
She had nursed soldiers, married one,
spent recent years in dread.
A few words on the Wireless,
a husband mustering with his gun,
and the nightmare returns.

As a child, thirty years later,
I saw hunger in her old eyes
a longing for security from fear
that she never lost.

Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond

For Ethel Maude Wellsted Brown (known as Maude), orphaned by the Boer War, Pharmacist during the 1918 Flu pandemic, wife and mother to Airmen and Airwomen. My beloved maternal Grandmother who married a poor boy from Malta and, despite the attitudes of the time, danced with black GI’s in Wiltshire  as they waited to fight in D-Day and the liberation of Europe.

The photo is of her and her children in the mid-1930’s. The little girl in white grew up to be my mother. The three larger children were all in the RAF or WAAF in World War 2. They and their father came through the war unscathed.

According to my mother (who was eleven at the time), Maude sobbed for hours after the declaration of war was broadcast in September 1939..

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Pt Off. John Gillespie Magee, Jr, RCAF, 1941

 

John Magee was a Canadian Spitfire pilot in England in World War 2. He died in 1941. This poem is just wonderful and has been quoted again and again —I remember Ronald Reagan quoting it after the Challenger crash.

I wish I could write like this.

Herepath

Herepath

Wide as ten men abreast
The old military road
Cuts between farms
Dips down to the river
Rises up over the moor
Rabbits lollop along it
Lambs bleat in fields beside it
Rosebay glows at sunset
Where were the wars that you marched to?
What were the victories that you won?
Here on the old Herepath
The road truly goes ever on

Copyright © 2017  Kim Whysall-Hammond