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Author Topic: A tribute to all the airmen who died on or around Christmas
Member # 1127

posted 12-20-1999 01:15 PM     Profile for Gavin   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post

(Reposted from:
Christmas, 1939--Somewhere in France
Friday, 17-Dec-1999 17:07:12 writes:

'Twas the night before Christmas
And all 'round dispersal,
Not a creature was stirring,
This was too like "rehearsal".

Our Hurricanes were lined up,
'Round the airstrip with care
On the off-chance that Jerry
Might take to the air.

Poor Poland was finished,...
Czechoslovakia, too...
The game was Herr Hitler's...
The score "nought to two".

So we're posted to France,
Far from the pubs and the pints,
With wooden props (fixed pitch)
To power the kites.

We've no armour behind us,
Nor any before...
But our eight .303 Brownings
Might even the score.

Our guns are all harmonized,
Through the pipper's reflection,
At six hundred yards,
"Per Air Ministry Direction".

All these would change,
Along with much more...
But we'd no way of knowing,
As we endured "Phony War".

When suddenly, from the mess...
There arose such a clatter,
That I wandered on over
To see what was the matter.

One of the older Lieutenants,
One of the "long-service" type,
Was lecturing his number two,
As he puffed on his pipe.

"It'll not stay as quiet, Simon,
As it seems in our region.
The Hun's have been practicing
Since the Condor Legion.

There'll be no reinforcements...
No Spits...that's for certain.
Old "Stuffy" will save them
For the "Second Act Curtain".

You think I'm an old fogey...
You think "Past his prime..."
But I've learned a few lessons
In all of that time.

You think you're a game **** ,
With fifty hours in type,
But we'll learn in the morning
If you've earned that half-stripe.

"Defensive Manuevers"
Will be our next session...
From spring chicken to shite-hawk
In one easy lesson.

So finish that whisky,
Have one more if you like.
They hit the sack early, boy
It's "tea up" at first light."

Then he knocked out the embers
From his well-worn briar,
And stared for a moment
At what's left of the fire.

"Merry Christmas, Simon...
And hallow the season.
But never forget...
We're here for a reason.

And if someday I don't get back,
From wherever we roam...'re all there is...
Between Hitler and home."

With that, he nodded...
Tossed his blouse over his shoulder;
Grabbed some lumps from the coal scuttle
...Upstairs would be colder...

He looked back at the young ones...
Thought "They're so full of stuff..
Please some of them..
Be just good enough."

And he trudged up to bed...
To rest up for the fight.
And said "Merry Christmas to all...
And to all a good night."

Author unknown.
This handwritten note was found inside a battered cigarette case located in what has been identified as the
wartime wreckage of a Royal Air Force Hawker Hurricane Mk I that was recently unearthed during the
construction of the new shopping centre near Abbeville, France. (Associated Press-Europe)

Posts: 370 | From: Victoria, BC, Canada. | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged
Member # 1189

posted 12-20-1999 08:41 PM     Profile for No105_Archie   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
Great poem. Here's another tribute to flyers and Christmas .

There is a story called "The Sheppard" in which an RAF pilot in the 1950's is flying home to England in his Vampire jet from a posting in Germany. His electrics go bad and he gets lost above heavy cloud. No altimeter, no radio, no radar. He is low on fuel and circling above the clouds when he sees below him a Mosquito circling with him. He slows down and decends so the Mossie can reach him and the old plane leads him to an obsolete WW2 RAF areodrome. He lands, gets supper and is given a bed by the old steward. He sees a picture on the wall of a Mosquito fighter bomeber with the same squadron markings as the one that brought him home. He asks to meet the pilot and the old steward tells him that the pilot went missing during the war on Xmas eve. He used to take the Mossie up and fly toward France and "sheppard" crippled bombers home. One foggy night he never returned , but every time there was fog on xmas eve you could hear the sound of twin Merlins away in the distance.

I don't know if it's true or not but it's a great story and I'd love to know where I could get a copy of it.

Posts: 498 | From: St. John's , Nfld. Canada | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged
Member # 139

posted 12-20-1999 09:24 PM     Profile for Karnak   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
Bart, I've read that story, except in the version that I read it was an American who was lost at night in bad weather, in a Corsair jet. He was low on fuel and just about to give himself up and eject into the channel when, as he slowed, a Spitfire formed up on his wing and guided him in. The rest of the story is the same, except that that was the last night that that field was to be manned.


Posts: 461 | From: San Rafael, California, USA | Registered: Sep 1999  |  IP: Logged
J Salty Salter
Member # 1514

posted 12-20-1999 11:35 PM     Profile for J Salty Salter   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
Some great stories! I remember a great pilot by the name of George Preddy, one of the leading aces of the 352 FG. He was and still is the top Mustang Ace, having shot down 23.83 aircraft in air to air combat. All but 4 kills were against single engine aircraft BF109s and FW190s. On a sorty, Christmas day, 1944, he was hit by flak from friendly fire and shot down. He died in the wreakage.

Posts: 3 | From: Utah, USA | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged
Member # 666

posted 12-21-1999 06:25 AM     Profile for Tannethal     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
No offense,

but how the heck can someone shoot down 1/3 or whatever divison of a plane?
Just curious

Posts: 537 | From: Olbernhau Germany | Registered: Oct 1999  |  IP: Logged
Member # 125

posted 12-21-1999 06:52 AM     Profile for Opa   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
Could they be probables/damaged?

Der Opa

Posts: 710 | From: Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway | Registered: Sep 1999  |  IP: Logged
Member # 116

posted 12-21-1999 07:04 AM     Profile for JWC     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
You guys are being facetious, right?
Posts: 1633 | From: College Station, Texas, USA | Registered: Sep 1999  |  IP: Logged
Member # 1039

posted 12-21-1999 07:12 AM     Profile for JG5_WrangleWolf   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
S! i thik they are shared victorys
Posts: 54 | From: Cunit, Tarragona (Spain) | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged
Member # 1076

posted 12-21-1999 07:16 AM     Profile for JG5_Jerry   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
Yes, they are shared victories. Unlike the Luftwaffe, theses types and ground targets counted as or towards kills.
Posts: 702 | From: Kingston-Upon-Thames, UK | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged
Member # 116

posted 12-21-1999 07:55 AM     Profile for JWC     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
In World War 2, the USAAF assigned partial credit for victories. You get .83 victories by getting one half of a kill (.50) and one-third of a kill (.33). This was done in cases where more than one Allied aircraft inflicted damage on an enemy who was eventually destroyed.

Ground kills (aircraft destroyed on the ground) were awarded by the 8th Air Force, but not officially by the USAAF. Bill Kepner, VIII Fighter Command leader, began the practice of allowing his pilots to include ground kills in their victory totals due to:
1) VIII FC needed to destroy as many German aircraft as possible in keeping with the POINTBLANK objectives (to destroy the Jagdwaffe).
2) Kepner was encouraging his Fighter Groups to "visit" known German fighter bases on the groups' egress during bomber escort missions.
3) strafing airfields soon became EXTREMELY dangerous due to the large amounts of light automatic flak added to the airfields' defenses.
4) allowing "ground kills" to count in the victory totals encouraged pilots to brave the flak to go after German aircraft on their own airfields (or at least provided some reward for doing so).

Again, this practice was only in effect in the USAAF 8th Air Force in England during World War II. It was NOT an official practice in other US Air Forces (with the possible exception of the 9th AF, also based in England) or in other theaters. All official (current) USAF records only count air-to-air victories. All US historians that I am aware of today differentiate between aircraft shot down (in the air) and "ground kills". Only aerial victories count toward an American pilot's total score. If he had any "ground victories", this is noted separately.

The RAF also awarded fractional victories during World War II. At some point later this practice seems to have been changed. Thus Johnny Johnson was said to have 38 victories at the end of WWII, but his score is now usually written as 34 solo and 7 shared destroyed.

As you're probably aware, the Luftwaffe never awarded partial victories. If there was debate about which pilot was responsible for the destruction of an enemy aircraft, then it was up to the pilots themselves to work out which one would file the victory claim with the RLM. On the other hand, if a Luftwaffe pilot damaged a bomber and knocked it out of formation, then another pilot came along and finished off the damaged bomber, NEITHER pilot would receive credit for a victory. So you could have a plane shot down, but no victory credit!

[This message has been edited by JWC (edited 12-21-1999).]

Posts: 1633 | From: College Station, Texas, USA | Registered: Sep 1999  |  IP: Logged

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