Tears, that I have no wish to stem, run down my cheeks whenever I visit old, derelict, airfields that, when young, were such an emotional part of my RCAF flying days, 1942-1966. Memories engulf me as, emerging from decay, the runways, the hangars, the barracks, the mess hall, the girls, but above all the thousands of young men, so full of life and promise who were denied my good fortune of growing old, come alive again to me if only for fleeting moments.
Reflecting my emotions is this 1975 poem by Walt Scott who was a WAG (wireless operator and air gunner) on 630 RAF bomber squadron that was formed with Lancaster bombers 15 November 1943 (8 months after I was shot down from a different base to survive as a POW) at East Kirby near Spilsby, Lincolnshire. Its call sign was “Silkscreen”. Among other operations 630 Squadron took part in all 16 raids during the Battle of Berlin.
I lie here still beside the hill
abandoned long to Nature's will
my buildings down, my people gone
my only sounds the wild birds' song.
My mighty birds will rise no more
no more I hear the Merlins' roar
and never now my bosom feels
the pounding of those giant wheels.
from the ageless hill their voices cast
thunderous echoes of the past
and still in lonely reverie
their great dark wings sweep down to me.
Laughter, sorrow, hope, and pain
I shall never know these things again.
Emotions that I came to know
Of strange young men so long ago
And now as evening shadows meet
Are they with me still, a phantom fleet?
And do my ghosts still stride unseen
Across my face, so wide and green?
If in future should structures tall
Bury me beyond recall
I will still remember them
My metal birds, and long-dead men.
Now, weeds grow high, obscure the sky.
O, remember me as you pass by
For beneath this tangled leafy screen
I was your friend, your home “Silkscreen”.
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