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At First Sight
How Could Life Be Any Sweeter? - John Watt

Originally scribbled on a piece of Mess writing paper one wet morning at Woodhall Spa in 1944!

Leaping out of bed at daybreak
Rising early in the morning
627 Squadron rising
Yet another day is dawning
Icy winds and drifting snowflakes
Fill our lives so full of pleasure
Waiting in the draughty crewroom
Filling in our hours of leisure
Weather prophets forecast scrubbings
Why do we look so downhearted?
"All the crews in Operations!"
Then the panic really started
Big White Chief and Master Minds there
Bending over ghastly flight plans
Dread has now on all descended,
Lesser chief arrive in flight vans
Navigators sharpen pencils
Pilots listen to flight planning
Frantic groundcrews rushing wildly
To the aircraft they are manning
Meal is over, briefing ended
Packed the crew bus to the ceiling
Parachutes and nav. bags mingling
Can you guess how we are feeling?
Squeezing through the narrow hatchway
Running up the engines quickly
Lightning flashing in the Heavens
And the snow is falling thickly
No chance of scrubbing, no more hoping
For the runway all are making
No session in the bar this evening
All these hopes they're now forsaking
Nipping smartly down the runway
Navigation lights are glowing
Through the snowflakes whirling downwards
Woodhall wonders where they're going
Flying through the deepening twilight
Out across the North Sea water
Navigator losing pencils
Saying words he didn't oughta!
Pilot's digit well extracted
Now they're over Nazi flak guns
Flaming tracer sailing upwards
Red ones, green ones, dirty black ones
Speeding onwards in the evening
Now the fighter flares descending
Awful panic in the cockpit
O'er his chart the Nav. is bending
Twenty minutes to the target
And he finds his log is showing
That the wind has ceased its blowing
Frantic alterations quickly
And a new course they are flying
Now the last and final traces
Of the twilight swiftly dying
Outer flak defences shake them
Searchlight beams are there in dozens
Heavy flak is dead ahead now
Past the cockpit shrapnel buzzing
"There they go" - the flares are dropping
Brightly shining on the river
"That's a close one to the starboard!"
Feel the aircraft shake and quiver
"There's the target", naval dockyards,
Factory chimneys, then they're turning
Screaming down with mounting airspeed
Marker flares are slowly burning
Bombs selected, and the fusing
Set and ready for releasing
Bombs doors open, "let them go now!"
Smokey flak bursts still increasing
Flaming red stars start cascading
Falling to the earth in streamers
Pull the stick back - nothing happens
And the pilot's got the screamers!
One more heave and up they're climbing
There's a sound of something clanging
Navigator's rules, protractors,
No, it's not tonight they're pranging!
Push the throttles slowly forward
And upon the altimeter
Twenty thousand - home to supper
How could life be any sweeter?!

John Watt - 1944


Copyright 1943-2012 627 Squadron in Retirement or as credited