War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

xmas

this beautiful peaceable land. so lucky. the snow so lovely. and plenty. good water. good air. good food. we worry about waistlines not whether there will be life tomorrow. blessed. blessed country of ours.

this morning I had luncheon with the elders in our family. the old RCAF man in our life who spent the war installing radar in the “Lanks” (Lancaster Bombers), the Lanks that helped to win the WWII. the Lanks flown across the Atlantic by civilian pilots without any navigational tools other than the sextant I suppose.

so the old RCAF guy tells us of Xmas Eve 1944 when he was stationed near York. in a British pub, pissed, utterly pissed because it was Xmas Eve and that’s what you do when you’re 20 years of age and in the RCAF stationed far from home and there’s a war going on. and someone comes in and tells the boys they have to return to base immediately and get ready to fly in an hour. a sortie I guess they’d call it, a flight to drop bombs over Germany. Xmas Eve.

and the old RCAF guy tells me how the boys took off that night were absolutely wrecked. they’d been drinking all afternoon in the pub. three of them didn’t even make it off the airfield right away in one piece. crashed into each other at take off. he doesn’t know how many made it back alive that night. and our old RCAF man shakes his head. sadness turned to disgust at decisions made that night to send men into the night, that night.

he’s old now. lives in a Veteran’s home. his memory folds like a mediocre bridge hand sometimes. but some things are sharp, sharp in his memory. he remembers Xmas Eve 1944 like it was yesterday. at 86, the loss, fresh as today’s new Xmas snow.


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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled xmas. It was posted here on December 25, 2011.

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