In the summer of nineteen forty, I could clearly see,
That to serve behind the counter, held no appeal for me.
In addition to my desire, to learn a manual skill.
Another factor at that time, was more important still.
Doug, who’d been my closest friend, for years through thick and thin,
Closer than most brothers, in fact more like a twin,
Had a problem with a stutter, when certain words occurred.
Subconsciously, I was always ready, to interpose that word.
Neither Doug nor I had been aware, that it was the case,
Until my parents pointed out, what a problem he would face,
When eventually, we had to part, and go our separate ways.
Drastic action became more urgent, with the passing days
I applied for Government Training. at the local Labour Exchange,
And was told it would take several weeks, my training to arrange.
I didn't breathe a word to Doug for I knew I dared not tell,
As once he knew about it, he'd apply to go as well.
I was sent to a Training Centre, in Letchworth Hertfordshire.
As I guessed, Doug tried to follow, or get placed somewhere near.
They sent him to St Albans, over twenty miles away,
I cycled there to see him, on one tiring summer day.
We both found jobs in London, in the worst days of the "Blitz"
Doug worked and lodged in Hendon, while I lived in Bed-sits,
Quite a way from Hendon, near the station at Earls Court
During that stage of the war, it was no Health Resort.
I well recall, that one week-end, Doug phoned me up to say,
Though fire watching, on Saturday, he'd be free all next day.
So I arranged to meet him, and help his watch to keep.
If in turn we kept awake, we both could get some sleep.
The firm at which Doug worked , had an armed guard at the gate,
Therefore in order to get in, I had to hang around and wait,
Until Doug threw me his permit, over the perimeter wall.
By showing that I passed the guard, with no trouble at all.
We spent a pleasant evening, and in view of peaceful skies,
With the prospect of a quiet night, our plans we could revise.
I would go back to my flat, to get some rest before,
Returning when he'd done his shift, and meeting up once more
Of course I didn't need a pass, for getting out again,
But by the time I reached the station, I had missed the final train.
When I got back to Doug's place of work, it was past the midnight hour.
The day that started off so well, had suddenly turned sour.
A bomber raid had started, and searchlights laced the skies.
I thought that I might scale the wall, which wasn't very wise.
When I heard the click of a rifle bolt, I quickly did the same,
And didn't wait there long enough, for the
guard to take his aim.
Then started what turned out to be, the worst walk of my life.
While London's sky was bursting, with the sound of aerial strife.
That it was only ten to fourteen miles, I found hard to believe.
I sought shelter in the underground, nerves and muscles to relieve.
I chose instead, to face the bombs, and showers of shrapnel hail,
In preference to the polluted air, my lungs could not inhale.
What miles I covered that dreadful night, I'm sure I'll never know.
Without a light, or any signs, to show the way to go.
I was like a headless chicken, blindly dashing around,
Stumbling over the piles of rouble, scattered on the ground.
From Edgware Rd. past Marble Arch, and "The Dorchester" in Park Lane.
I ran from trees to lamp-posts, to dodge the shrapnel rain.
The ear-splitting crack of the *Ack-Ack, from their positions in Hyde Park,
Preceded by the constant flashes shattering the dark.
Became gradually less frequent, as I continued on my way.
By the time I got to Knightsbridge, peace returned with dawning day,
*(Ack-Ack = Anti Aircraft Guns).
The relief I felt, when I reached my room, my words just can't explain.
Such an ordeal, I sincerely hope, I will never face again.
Before I could wash, I fell asleep, in that refuge of my own.
I was awake again, in a couple of hours, as Doug was on the phone.
He was looking for my sympathy, as he'd had a tiring night.
Could I meet him at dinner time, as he didn't feel too bright.
He had no need to press me, I quickly acquiesced.
My wish was not to argue, but just close
my eyes and rest.
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