Art and Science from War

Earlier this month four airmen were buried in Padua, Italy, with full Military Honours. They were David Raikes, David Perkins and Alexander Bostock, all aged 20, and John Hunt aged 21. _68780963_boston-crew

Their remains have only just been found, in the Po Valley, along with their crashed Boston Bomber aircraft from the Second World War and a few personal belongings, unearthed by an amateur Italian group called Archeologidell ‘Aria.

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They died just ten days before the Allied victory in Italy during April 1945.

One of the airmen, David Raikes, wrote poetry and some has been published. Here are some short extracts.

Let it be hushed, let the deep ocean close

Upon these dead…


These men knew moments you have never known,

Nor ever will; we knew those moments too,

And talked of them in whispers late at night;

Such confidence was born of danger shared.

We shared their targets, too; but we came back.


… Someone said

‘It was a pity that he wore his watch;

It was a good one, twenty pounds he said

He’d paid for it in Egypt. Now, let’s see,

Who’s on tonight. Ah, Taffy – you’ve a good one!

You’d better leave it with me.’ And we laughed.

Cold were we? Cold at heart. You get that way.


Till minutes changed to hours, and still no news.

One went to bed; but roused by later crews,

Asked ‘were they back yet?’ And being answered ‘No’,

Went back to sleep

One’s waking eyes sought out the empty beds,

And ‘Damn’, you said, ‘another kit to pack.’

I never liked that part. You never knew

What privacies your sorting might lay bare.

I always tried to leave my kit arranged

In decent tidiness. You never knew.

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One comment on “Art and Science from War

  1. gosh that’s writing! The details – almost banal – combined with such poignancy: really moving. The last line there is wrenching… “in decent tidiness”. Thanks for posting.

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