British Airborne East of river Orne



This page is dedicated to Sgt. "Ginger" Woodcock
9th Para Battalion 6th Airborne Division.
He wrote this poem on June 5, 1944.



When first you read of what we have done,
Your hearts will fill with pride for your sons.
Will they return to tell of the life they have led.
Or be like so many who just lay there and bled?

It's "D" Day tomorrow, but we've known that for ages.
Are young lives nearly finished? Can we turn back the pages?
Can we regain the thrill of the day of our wings?
Are feelings too morbid? Should we think of such things?

We keep playing cards to fill in the gap
But thoughts keep drifting back to that map,
The battery at Merville at the side of the Orne,
Will the landing be deadly, will the reception be warm?

What tensions possess us! Concealed deep there's a pain
But someone says "Your deal". Let's get back to the game.
We chatter and laugh over trivial things
To cover the nerves that this suspense brings.

In the flicker of candlelight young faces seem old.
Even the quiet ones are acting quite bold.
The cards are cursed frequently, the betting is rash.
This time tomorrow what value in cash?

Yet another look at our watches, just four hours to go.
"Let's blow to the NAAFI". No-one says no.
It's just wet and warm, yet they call it tea,
And it's a cheap way of turning those four hours to three.

Do they keep shouting orders to increase the tension?
Who starts all these rumours, too countless to mention.
Have you got all your ammo? Is your camouflage good?
Are you sure of the rendez-vous at the end of the wood?

We are rushed to the airfield, if we're dazed there's no wonder.
Some planes ticking over, some roaring like thunder.
A few scattered handshakes with the pals we know.
Weak jokes with the aircrew, the Yank pilot nammed Joe.

A word from the Padre, he wants us to pray.
Not even the ungodly refuse to-day.
The weight of equipement - it's murder to kneel.
Though the gravel cuts knees, the pain you don't feel.

The prayer is quite simple,it's one of his own.
He asks God for guidance and a safe return home.
Plain words with a message that we all undestand.
He knows that Hell must be gone through before we can land.

Is there a tear in your eye? Who can see in this light?
If there's a lump in your throat, there's your lip you can bite.
If it depends on the weather, the sky's not that good.
We must take the rendez-vous - must get to that wood.

Lights flash from the tower, plane engines start roaring.
The runway slides swiftly, into the night we go soaring.
Forced smiles to your neighbour, our moment's at hand.
For the sake of those following we must make a stand.

Just boys facing danger, please God make them men.
If they live through the danger, make them boys once again.

'Ginger' Woodcock - Broadwell - 06/05/1944