"I was twelve in 1944 and had returned briefly from evacuation to be with Mum just before she had my third brother. Dear little Royce Kenneth was born in a London hospital and they kept Mum in for two weeks."
During this time, I stayed with my paternal grandmother, and on the 5th June, we heard a thunderous noise and rushed upstairs to look out on the main Ripple Road. What a sight met our eyes! A seeming endless column of military vehicles carrying hundreds of men snaked before us, on its way to Tilbury Docks, and we yelled out 'Good luck' and 'Come back safely!' Gran's eyes were moist for her son, Uncle Bernard, aged 22 years old, had been missing since 1941. His body was never found, but she refused to wear black, living in hope that 'One day he'll return.."
IN A FEBRUARY SKY (1941)
Alien 'birds:' gargantuan
spewed fire - sent seagulls
scattering to hover low -
to chill their white underbellies
on the grey, choppy waves.
War confuses, muddles facts...
Did our young airman:
tall and blonde as a Viking
breathe his last on 'that' day or
"On escort duties in a Blenheim 4"
which failed to return?
Left behind were a balsa wood
Spitfire dangling from a
a hooked rug under a bed
and a budding romance, all
"Missing" became "Presumed Killed."
An iced birthday cake remained uneaten:
its candles unlit.
Death's hand is decisive no matter the date.
Many pillows and eyes drowned...
(My father's brother, Bernard, served in the Royal Air Force and was the youngest of five sons.
He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.)
A blue-serge-clad, fresh-faced youth:
'broom handle' back,
standing "At ease" proud -
gazes at me, unseeing,
from his sepia world.
Blue eyes filled with
he flies in fancy with the stars
by night - gazes with ardent longing
on the winged air-borne phantoms
silhouetted against the moon.
No clairvoyant messenger
foretold the future.
How could he have known that
in but two decades,
he would, again, experience the horrors of war;
be captured for posterity in similar stance?
The burning question remains unanswered:
What to do with tyrants?
Could genetic engineering one day hold the key?