Those who are old enough to have been around at the time will recall the RAF pseudonym for "Hard luck !" in the title. The verse is in memory of Frank Hart, a boyhood friend. At the time of his death he was piloting a Flying Fortress over Bergen, and was hit with bombs on. His death must have been mercifully swift - which is the only merciful aspect of it. The facts were, as I later learned from one of his friends in the same squadron, that the Americans had advised the RAF that the Flying Fortress which they had supplied for our use was a gun platform and bombing machine which was intended to operate at maximum ceiling, and to be long gone before enemy fighters could reach it. But our bigwigs knew better and decreed that the first bombing run was to be made at about half the recommended heights. And the result, his friend put it was this,

"We went in too low, and the ME's were in among us like flies !"

One's sometimes given to wonder who are a combatant's worst enemies . . .

Last night, for no good reason, I remembered him;
Frank, as he was, nineteen and flying bombers,
Tossing fair hair aside with flick of head,
And how long dead ?

He'd have been forty-five today if they'd let him live,
But they seduced him with a plane for flying
And sent him in over Bergen at fourteen thou.,
And where is he now ?

Bent his father's back, whitened his mother's head,
Took at a stroke child and grandchildren too;
Left them a dry remainder crust to spend,
And stole my friend.

When the news came through it seemed a squalid waste.
(The talk we'd have had, the beer we might have sunk !)
I'm older now, but I'm even less inclined
To change my mind.

If it ever happens again, I'll tell my sons
To let the old men who make wars fight them too.
Let the stuffed Caesars pull their bloody rank;
Remember Frank !