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trip to the north of the Kiel Canal. Everyone seemed to know that his twin would follow him – and he did. I remember their father visiting the Squadron shortly afterwards, stoical and brave of face. What he must have been feeling is beyond description.


But in spite of what were accepted as the inevitabilities of Bomber Command operation, there was an easy-going feel about life in the Mess and I think I knew why. It was because there was no time to dislike anyone, no time to bear grudges, only time to be pleasant to each other, supportive and friendly. The spirit was unlike anything I have experienced anywhere else at any time at all. Life was probably going to be too short for friction, envy or any form of unpleasantness. As in former messes I had known there was a bit of drinking when it was appropriate that a drink should be safely enjoyed, and the odd bit of rough play which did no-one any harm. There were a couple of commissioned WAAF officers who were members, and quite attractive they were too. When things might have been getting a bit rough in the late evening, they would be politely ushered out with a hearty rendering of ‘Goodnight, ladies,’ sung loudly enough for it to be an unmistakable hint. Their departure enabled the boys to get down to the singing of their own 77 Squadron songs, not every verse of which I can now remember. But I recollect enough of them to set them down here before they are completely forgotten. I believe most of the words were the product of one of our Canadian Flight Lieutenants who got himself the immediate award of a DFC by accompanying back across quite a bit of Germany another Halifax engaged on a daylight raid which had lost two of its engines and had fallen behind the main flow. We had a song about each member of a crew, which went well to the tune of


‘We Three Kings of Orient Are.’ There was no particular order in its verses, but each would be sung by the appropriate crew member, pilot, navigator, bomb aimer or whatever. These were the navigator’s lines:


Navigation’s what I do. At least that’s what I tell the crew! Despite Polaris, mighty Aries, I really haven’t a clue!


Then came the chorus, the odd line of which I fear has gone from my


memory. It was still to the ‘We Three Kings’ tune and went: O-O-OH!


Halis are a ropey kite, Lancasters a heap of *****, Ta-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra (A line I’ve forgotten) Owls are dim, they fly by night!


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