Sunday, 11 November 2012

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day

 My paternal grandfather was a pilot with the RAF, and met my grandmother while on leave in England.  This is one of several photos I have that were taken by him either just before or just after they were married, during on of his leaves in WWII.

I look at the photos he took of her, and while in one way, they are of a person I don't know, in another, I can relate to the emotion on her face.  In the same way, I read the poem below every Remembrance Day to my kids, along with Flanders Fields, knowing it was one of his favourites for how it captured the emotions of a pilot, but at the same time feel like I've only come part of the way to really knowing him or who he was.  He very rarely spoke about his experiences in the war, but it so much a part of him. 

 High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

We will remember them.

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