Triplane Builder

Poems by Triplane Builder - William (Bill) Woodall

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In the thin cold blue of the stratosphere these bombers ply their trade;
Contrails streaming along their wakes foretell the coming raid.
Oxygen sucked to straining lungs-the piercing cold-so fine-
Eyes alert for things that flash-(contesting fighters sign).

Turrets spin as the gunners peer-- await what is to be-
Landscape and cloud flow far below-up north-- the sparkling sea.
In "boxes" the big 'birds' seek to fly-- to maximize defense-
The sky is black with aluminum shapes---ten thousand men are tense.

The coming raid is known- flak bursts come to stay-
Mushrooming puffs of blackish smoke greet bombers on their way.
Shrapnel flung from exploding shells seeks to do great harm-
Gunners firing far below aim-- to make this welcome warm.

Some planes are hit, and some will fall and others take their slot-
The pace though fast seems very slow-- as they practice what was taught-
The initial point has now been reached-- formation starts its turn-
The bombsight now will fly the lead-- their drop point will discern.

No evasive action now-the final course dead straight---
Ground-bound gunners can take dead aim-- fill the sky with hate-
With bombs away-those who can---turn--and northwest fly-
Form again to defend themselves-- in a very hostile sky.

The flak bursts stop-this means one thing-fighters are in the air-
Starting their runs from "12 O'clock" since fewer guns will bear-
Gunners yell on the 'inter-coms' as they fire-and alert the crew-
The path an enemy fighter takes--- if it passes right on through.

Planes are hit and blossom fire as fuel tanks alight-
Parachutes are seen from some-- ere they tumble out of sight-
Some fighters also share this fate and parachute out too-
But they may live to fight again-unlike a bomber's crew.

"Little friendlies" now appear-- clear the air for the homeward bound-
What is left of what went out--- seek the safety of the ground-
Flares announce "wounds aboard" and priorities are set-
Landing aircraft fill each field---welcoming ground crews-met.

This was but a one day's work, and tomorrow's another day-
After de-brief-a good night's sleep-they're earning that 'hazard' pay!!

Bill Woodall

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