Officers Mess RAF Scampton Lincolnshire  617 Sqd Base The Dambusters

This site is dedicated to the air and ground crews of the Royal Air Force, in and around the county of Lincolnshire in the United Kingdom during the period 1939/45 of the Second World War. 
The poems on this web site have been written by myself over a period of years, but eventually they will be collated into book form.  I do hope that you will enjoy the poems as much as I have had in writing them. They are both happy and sad and reflect the reallity of life in and around RAF bases throughout the Second World War conflict in both hot, and some times very cold conditions. Except for a major repair, like an engine change, a lancaster or similar sized aircraft was serviced outside in all weathers.
More poems from my collection will be added to this site in time.
Several other poems can be seen on:

The poem 'Real Aviator's' on this page is dedicated to the majority of aviators, aviatrix, and the builders and inventors of the flying machine, who were prepared to give up both life and limb for the sake of aviation and the chance to sore like the birds. 

Deep Winter 1940

The only noise to break the eerie silence is the creaking of the bed as I rise. Hot ash drops through the grate of the stove as I pass revealing bright red embers of the fire as it gradually sheds a long finger of light all around the room.  I quickly wash and shave, trying not to make any noise which may disturb my fellow pilots, dress, and very reluctantly head towards the door.  Once outside, the comforting warmth of the room is soon forgotten as I become completely surrounded by a bitter winters morning.  Hoarfrost soon begins to nibble at my extremities, and grass crackles underfoot as I leave a very distinctive path accross winters fresh white carpet.
My expelled breath hangs around me like a cloak before condensing away, a bit reminiscent of a turkish bath I had taken while on leave in London.  The small amount of heat left in my body oozes away at every opportunity, leaving me shivering to the bone with a figure of collective form behind.
I quicken my pace, and although clothed in a thick jumper and two pairs of socks, the thin sharp air soon begins to penetrate through to my temperature reducing mass below.  My RAF issue sheepskin lined boots although normally very good are no match for this type of weather, and my toes tingle as the cold seeps in making it much harder to walk.
I swiftly make for the aircraft but the time seems eternal, my equipment is gradually becoming much heavier as it twists around my legs and slowly begins to slide to the ground.  I stop for a moment to recover my breath, dulled tones drift accross my frozen ears sounding much more like a foreign language, and just as bad to decipher.
Upon reaching the aircraft I stoop holding my knees and gulp air to gain breath and regain my posture, my legs bend as if made of rubber, but I recover just in time to prevent myself from sinking to the ground.  Breathing has now become forced and my chest is heavy as if it may cave in at any moment.  I struggle to climb onto the wing and into the cockpit, but I manage to close the canopy behind me with a swift action as a voiced chorus with a never ending echo rings around my head.  I begin to feel a little sick as dizziness caused by lack of oxygen tries to take over my brain, but I try to think positive.  The cold metal stings and sticks to my skin, chilblains rush to my fingertips as I reach for my flying gloves.  I rub my hands together and begin to feel a little warmer as the circulation begins to return, which allows me to adjust the parachute and harness as I settle down to start the initial start up checks:
1  Undercarriage selector lever down, light on.
2  Flaps up, landing lamps up
3  Contents of lower fuel tank, thirty seven gallons
4  Both fuel cock levers on
5  Throttle open half inch
6  Mixture control, rich
7  Airscrew lever, fully forward
8  Radiator shutter open
I prime the engine, and switch on the ignition while at the same time pulling out the pump handle to give the engine one more prime.  I press the starter button and with a reluctant cough the engine begins to turn over.  A couple of more minutes pass while cranking the engine before it begins to fire more evenly.
When the final preparations and vital actions are complete I slowly taxi accross the grass to depart. I open the throttle through the gate and hold the lever hard against the quadrant in boost position, three thousand revolutions per minute, boost plus twelve and a half.  I am soon rolling and quickly become airborne to leave the still white undulating fields below.  Three hundred and forty miles per hour, and with a quick half roll I turn to starboard and head south, the aircrafts rivets pulsating to the growl of the Merlin as I set course in the early morning sun.  My body has now recovered from it's early baptisme of a frozen world, but I keep an ever watchfull eye all around.

John C Haywood Copyright © Poetry In Action

1667 H.C.U. Sandtoft

Round and round with the H.O.C. mind that chimney mind that tree, throttle control, don't let it sink, or we'll be floating in the drink

Circuits and bumps both day and night, will we ever get this flying right, single, twin and now the heavy, it's time for the pub, a wad and a bevy

Well it's got to be done, and it's got to be right, and flying tomorrow will be all done at height, so an early bed makes an early day and increases by twopence our weekly pay

We've got the instructor, on this our last flight, so let's show him we're ready to handle this kite, 'now how about corkscrews' it's sure to impress 'is it rudder left over' or yoke, what a mess

We should have been higher to miss all the trees, as we came straight and level we rolled ninty degrees.  Well I don't think he noticed the engineer said, as he lay in the bomb bay rubbing lumps on his head

I think that was good lads, let's head back to base 'what's that Tom's just shouted 'he's picked up a trace, 'did he say it was foe like' or just a good friend  Oh! here comes the runway, thank God it's the end. 

John C Haywood Copyright © Poetry In Action

                                        Home Run Woodhall Spa

            Rolling mist that covers all, with chorused song begins to call
         Entwine the Sun to greet the dawn, returning craft on early morn

       As times long finger quickens on, this deadly flight has almost gone
           In depth of blue an open sky, loves triumph lost or passing by

              Clouds aloft so whisper thin, guarding aircrew held within
Awake the night to close the day, infused with colour from lights last ray.

John C Haywood Copyright © Poetry In Action
                                         The Watchtower
         Enter the realm of the watchtower  Drown in nostalgia here-with
         So the airmen who gave their lives freely  Rest with the thoughts that we live
         Soak up the spirit abounding  Let-all your senses take heed
         Spare a thought if you will for these people  Who rallied to call and to need
         Remember the scene in this tower  Leave with a memory that's true
         And think of the airmen still resting  Watching the sky from the blue.
John C Haywood Copyright © Poetry In Action

Dawn Departure

Metheringham watchtower stands forlorn
as hoar frost swirls to break the dawn

Soon sleepy airmen will appear
their thoughts beholding hidden fear

Who knows what fate there is in store
till whence returned from foreign shore

All watchful eye's see them inside
a metal tomb on deadly ride

Four-engine start up cuts the day
while ground crew struggle 'chocks away'

Each craft departs with waves good-by
to slip it's bond and climb on high

As one by one they disapear
reluctant ground crew shed a tear

For well they know with every flight
of aircraft who, just out of sight

Will not return or reach this base
their names are posted 'lost no trace'

Some crews are back their luck held right
as dying day sinks quick to night

The talk of missing fills the air
as lonely room seeks empty chair

New friends are made old friends are lost
but what of others 'count the cost'

John C Haywood Copyright © Poetry In Action

Engineers Dilemma Caistor Aerodrome

Trevor travels from his home to work at Caistor Aerodrome
repairs and service every day with overtime to boost his pay

The sergeants taken on this kite and given him a nasty fright
'It needs an engine and lot's more' as Trevor gasps and grabs the door

'Bring in the challenge' Trev's eyes go shifty 
'This kite needs more than just a fifty'
much hard work and within one week, he brings the aircraft to it's peek

Just as the Lanc is signed complete, his thoughts are on a flying seat
but wait, alas, his airborne feat, Trev's name was never on the sheet

And all his work, and all his pain, has come to sorrow once again
as 'Sergeant Beeky' at full strain shoots out the hangar like a train

So Trevor could but stand and stare as Beeky's Lanc rose in the air.

John C Haywood Copyright © Poetry In Action

Last Leg to North Coates

Locked in silence homeward bound, engine noise distracted sound
Ever near so safe to be, last leg down o'er cruel sea

A one o nine is on the tail, of this, a burning aircraft's vapour trail
He's running low and turning right determined now to stop this flight

Half roll round he blasts our ship, the flight look's doomed, but not this trip
Spitfire's appear from out-the-sun, and soon our attackers on the run

Our lucky day is hear at last, such fateful times are in the past
none but those who stand and stare of broken bodies dark despair

It's our last trip we're due for leave, but other ground crew stand and greave
their precious craft has not returned, posthumous 'gongs' so sadly earned.

John C Haywood Copyright © Poetry In Action

Second Thoughts of Bardney

Is this my life that's passing by unfolding 'Hells' most deepest thoughts,
so shallow now at deaths great door, a moments glance a second look

Can I stand back and trace my steps
 I bow my head the door shuts tight
all thoughts have gone the flight is long
can I return to better days
I don't think so those times are dead
the only way is forward now.

John C Haywood Copyright © Poetry In Action


British and Nederland crews about to depart East Kirkby

Dog of Night

While Lancs go forth consuming flight
ascending safe through edge of light

The dog of night keeps Scamptons Gate
caressed by sleep whence time will break

In dreams and thoughts another day
of aircrews, grass and hours of play

His restlessness his turn of eye
a welcome touch, a voice, a sigh

Forever held no more to roam
Hells darkened depth to be his home

When ships return may he awake
and from this hole, his life to take

Soon voices free will cut the tie
to bring together both on high.

John C Haywood Copyright © Poetry In Action 


Crews about to depart East Kirkby

Count them back

I stand and count and count again                                                        
adrenaline blocking thought and pain

No more my friends their laughter shown
around this place now sombre grown

Oh! where Oh! where my thoughts run wild
as lips respond like gibbering child

I stand and count and count once more
then finally turn and close the door.

John C Haywood Copyright © 
Poetry In Action

The Real Aviator's

Pilots and navigators, the adventurers of old
sometimes quite crazy, but most of all bold

Bleriot Sikorsky Alcock and Brown
they came from your city, they came from your town

And who would have thought it so long ago
that aerodynamics be part of the show

From Sopwith and Cierva Lockheed and Spad
so many killed though, the memories are sad

Handley Page, Messerscmitt, Short Brothers and Yak
remember the pilots who never came back

Then there's our Amy, Lindbergh and Wright
the thrill of the take-off, the tension, the flight

But those with the calling were pioneers all
and they relished the flying, the lift, and the stall

I could go on for ever with tales of the few
about dare-devil aviators resting up in the blue

We won't forget Vicker's and Hawker, the best
in year 1940 they surpassed all the rest

From box-kite to jet plane in such a short time
they had a good reason and a good rhyme

Frank Whittle and Avro had come a long way
but air transportation was now here to stay

So when next in an aircraft think of these guy's
watching your progress in their conquered sky's.

John C Haywood Copyright ©
Poetry In Action

The Lanc's of  Manby

Oh! faithful Lanc in flight so high, bearing airmen through the sky
Roaring Merlins carry back, commited airmen through the flack

Hour on hour of dulled distraction, signalled by the right of action
Born aloft from base in flight, returning wounded in the night

Surviving crew another day, carry those who have no say
Tour of duty in their stride, checked by ground crew with great pride'

John C Haywood Copyright © Poetry In Action

Warrior of the Sky

On trusty stead I mount the sky, as whispered cloudlets rush on by
I dive, pull back, invert and climb, till blinding lights dull space and time

Then roll and turn, leave fields below, while power surges on as though
I've lost control of all I sought, adrenaline bending every thought

Regaining charge my head now clear, so close disaster seconds near
As one we ride through wave and crest, decending mighty beast to rest

To ride on high another day, foreboding foe for you to slay
With lions roar and proof of worth, caressing trees we kiss the earth.

John C Haywood Copyright © Poetry In Action

Kirton Lindsay

'I'd like my friends' to tell a tale
of open sky's and vapour trail

Our climb to height, our rush to Earth
all sinews taught, as if at birth

When whispered clouds brush metal skin
and face distorts all cramped within

The compressed torso cold with sweat
is forced by acts so quick to set

But nerves of steel come into play
and help us through another day.

Copyright John C Haywood © Poetry In Action

Tail End Charlie

I'm the tail end charlie at the rear of every ship
dreadfully cold, on each and every trip

Surrounded by perspex and stuck here every night
no room to manoeuvre, when the doors are all shut tight

I love the terra firma, but I'm the last to leave
you can say it's rather silly, and maybe quite naive

But when the aircraft leaves the air, and we come into land
guess who's last to leave the ship, now you'll understand

Why the tail end charlie, on each and every mission
is such a solitary lonely guy, stuck in a daft position.

John C Haywood Copyright © Poetry In Action


First Air Ace of the War March 1940

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