The Royal Air Force Association
RAFA Beccles and Southwold Area Branch (1214)
Registered Charity No. 1129736
RAFA Beccles Salutes “The Few”
Members of the Public are invited to attend the Church Service of Remembrance for “The Few” who made the Ultimate Sacrifice to protect the Nation against Nazi Tyranny in The Battle of Britain in 1940. The Service will be held in St. Benets Minster, Beccles at 3:30pm on Sunday, 19th September and Conducted by the Rev.Dom. Antony Sutch OSB MA(Oxon). An address will be given by Air Vice-Marshall Grahame Jones CBE RAF who will also take the Salute with other Senior Officers in the Parade following the Service, together with the Mayors and Civic Leaders of local Towns. RAF Veterans and Members of the RBL will also be on Parade with Standards.
During the course of the Service, a Senior Cadet will read the Poem, “Fighter Pilot” by local Author and Poet, Roy “Skip” Stroud. RAFA Beccles Branch Chairman Brian Vousden commented “We are amazed that Skip, who has no Military experience, has captured the fighting spirit of our Pilots and produced a work that gives an insight to the anxieties and heroism experienced by those taking part in the battle”.
This poem is dedicated to the young fighter pilots of the R.A.F. who fought in the Battle of Britain June-October 1940
Outside Dispersal he sits in a chair,
He’s only nineteen, with short curly hair,
Too young to fight, and too young to die
High up above, in the clear summer sky.
Sitting around him, are other lads too,
Reading or smoking, with nothing to do.
Alone with their thoughts, awaiting the bell,
Will it be heaven or will it be hell.
Young as they are, they know what to do
In the Battle of Britain, they are but a few.
Then comes the call, and the waiting is over,
‘Angels-One-Five, are now passing Dover!’
Red Section scramble! it’s time to go,
Climb in the cockpit, prepare for the foe.
Soon they are airborne and gaining in height,
Course set for London, to join in the fight.
Then in the distance, on a bright summer’s day,
The enemy are seen, not far away.
Hundreds of bombers, escorted by fighters,
‘Red Leader calling, let’s get the blighters!’
The Spitfires descend out of the sun,
And dogfights ensue, to the sound of the gun.
The enemy has seemingly, unbeatable odds,
And victory is in the lap of the Gods.
Inside the cockpit, his hand on the stick
Aerial combat, must know every trick.
Rolling and turning, and sometimes a dive,
Climbing and banking, and staying alive.
Over the radio a scream, or a shout,
Keeping alert and looking about.
Looking behind, to the left and the right
Thumb on the button, enemy in sight.
Browning machine guns, four on each wing,
Rip into a Heinkel, and havoc they bring.
A Bomber’s on fire and is seen to go down,
And canopies of silk drift over the town.
The battle rages, amid shot and shell
And if they sruvive, they’ll be stories to tell.
Friend and foe sustain several hits,
In a contest of skill, courage and wits.
Many an aircrew cry out in pain
As their aircraft is hit again and again.
Strafted by machine guns, piercing their side
In the skies over England, that’s where they died.
Other young men never returned,
Screaming in cockpits, trapped, where they burned.
Missing in action, just like the others,
Telegrams sent to fathers and mothers,
Germany’s Luftwaffe suffers defeat,
As bombers and escorts, limp home in retreat.
Persued by Spitfires, with speed and the power,
For young fighter pilots. it’s their finest hour.
R . G . Stroud