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.
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.