“Be alert, they’re on the move,”
the squawk-box chirps, “Be warned!”
Through clack-clack bursting fiery flak,
his Supermarine droned on.
It’s October 27th, 1941
Above The Battle that must be won.
Hunted by a hound unknown,
on gusts of fate, he’s blown.
It’s said, the Spitfire won the war.
Nimble and sleek, this fighter was;
Winged Rolls-Royce of British lore,
a legend many still adore.
Suddenly, his plane’s out-flanked.
A Messerschmidt flew up, and banked,
the demon stabs his cabin’s hull,
jolting slams against his skull.
the panel instruments go insane,
dowsed with fuel, now he’s aflame
ejected, how? he can’t explain,
aloft, on fire, outside his plane.
On straps, he hangs, charred & seared,
the bird approaches as vision cleared.
It’s coming right at him, why? He knows.
He draws his last breath before he goes.
Managed to flash his signature smile;
He’d make his exit dressed in style,
He saluted the enemy, smiling, midair –
The pilot saluted back but only could stare.
a 6-foot-6 man, with clothing afire,
harnessed and torn, scorched & bleeding,
but for a miracle – his funeral pyre,
rain-clouds quenched him, interceding.
He fainted, covered with his own vomit,
passed through the sky, a smoldering comet.
Descended on Dunkirk, with Nazis awaiting;
four years a prisoner for their hating.
50 years later, dying, he lay
shrapnel scarred from that earlier day,
hemorrhaging inside, the doctors all went
his words as he crashed,
“… I’m in a hell of a predicament…”
But as he descended
through the cloudy unknown,
was caught up with a smile
that resembled his own.
Loved ones were waiting
to welcome him home.
This is a tribute to my father, Brian G. Hodgkinson Sr. 1914-1999. He flew for the 401 Squadron of the RCAF over The Battle of Britain. He was shot down by the WW2 fighter ace of the Luftwaffe, Adolf Galland. He spent 4 years in German prison camps. After the war, he and my mother became American citizens. They adopted my brother and me in 1960, who were then 3 and 4.
Excerpt from Wikipedia about Adolf Galland:
On the German side, Luftwaffe commander-in-chief Hermann Göring asked Luftwaffe fighter ace Adolf Galland about what he thought about shooting enemy pilots while in their parachutes, even over their own territory. Galland replied that, “I should regard it as murder, Herr Reichsmarschall. I should do everything in my power to disobey such an order”.
Brian Hodgkinson Jr. 2016