The aviation poetry of Mark Hillier 

Ode to RAF Westhampnett

Rise up above the blanket fog

the morning silence broke by Merlin throb

Copper tinted spire slips by

the starboard wing as they fly high

nose pointed south to meet the foe

Westhampnett now a distant throw.

Twelve men good and true

last night, at least a merry few

now ride the troubled tide of air

in finger fours, flights or pairs

they the Luftwaffe nemesis

ascend in to the blue abyss

Never sure of their return

quite possibly to be interned

they fought and died from this field

lest not forget, they did not yield.

Mark Hillier 2010

The Spitfire

An elegant beauty,vivid in my dreams

Her delicate legs to her elliptical wings

A lady of an addictive sort

head and heart she doth court

My minds eye recreates our highs

As we both cavort around the sky


Prime her veins, high octane fuel

Coaxed to life for another duel

Throttle open, a deafening roar

Dance the rudders on the floor

No timid girl no longer prim

She bucks and turns, obeys my whim


Caress her gently to perform

Gracefull loop and stall turn

In my head, my thoughts and dreams

A glorious lady by Supermarine.



Cyril Barton VC


Not conscious of his valiant deed

Camaraderie, friendship a driving need.

His crew, as one fought hard that night

Fending of the horrid nazi might

A Teutonic beast, ME two one oh!

Sowed lead and bullets, corkscrew go!


Damaged bird, her feathers alight

Crew depleted but target in sight

Communication shot to bits

Bombs gone now, sharpened wits

Look out for fighters, let's go home

Lifeblood fuel is running low

airframe shudders, she complains

Nursed  by Cyril, he tightens her reigns


North Sea crossed, black and daunting

Fog and mist below look haunting

Home fields hidden by the murk

Engines splutter with a jerk

The fuel is done and glide they must

In  god and  pilot the crew now trust.


Shapes of houses, over he flies

Avoiding action, Barton tries

Tearing  metal, screeching wail

His crew are safe, in the tail


Cyril's job now done; his mission completed

Sadly though, death not cheated

dark bronze cross, he never knew

one of Bomber commands exalted few.



Sandy Gunn

The beast is there, he must fly

Take his Spitfire and have a try

Cameras loaded, briefing done

Spitfire pilot, Sandy Gunn

Blue Spitfire now his perfect steed

To complete such a daring deed.


Mentally focused upon his role

lone flight and confinement take their toll!

hours across the deep Black Sea

No means of attack, just photography

the merlin purs and he is sure

navigation good, gunns seen the shore


Begin the task, cameras rolling

Foetenfjord, the beast is growling

High in the blue, his lookout fair

Fighters scrambled, in the air

sudden flashes, thumps and oil

Throttle forward, engine boils


Gunn is running for his life

Manoeuvring hard but getting strife

More rounds come in, his plane alight

It's time to leave this dizzy height.

Controls go slack, the game complete

must bail out now to avoid the heat


Canopy back and out he falls

Over snow covered enemy shores

A 109 now close as gunn is floating

A nazi pilot, smug and gloating

spitfire screaming, bang she hits

Sandy watches, now a pile of bits


Canopy folds he's in the snow

It's time to hide, what a blow

His face is burnt, he needs to hide

That's was close he nearly died!

Sadly now the future bleak

Live life slowly, week by week


Tunnel dug and papers drawn

Sadly captured, shot at dawn

One life snuffed out, he has gone

We ensure his memory still lives on

Sandy Gunn, the forgotten few

a pilot of 1 PRU.




A kindly old and wizened face

A soft but firm vocal embrace

His friendship true and meaningful

A character with such  magnetic pull


His frailness belies his adventurous past

Not one to expose his experiences vast

Yet here is a man, a hero true

One who serviced the exalted few


Spitfires and Merlins in his blood

Sweat and toil through the D day mud

Onward to Germany and VE day

Machine gunned,  bombed he never swayed

Airman, Crew chief, engineer

His knowledge he would share, let’s have a beer

No airs or graces as straight as a dye

Tell you straight, eye to eye


 Joes the name, No messing to be had

Just a lovely straight-talking Yorkshire lad.

Sadly gone but not forgotten

Sharp as a pin and bright as a button


 RIP Joe Roddis 2017

Arundel Liberator.

 R 1830s steady, sure, constant, purring like a cat,

Montgomery holds her steady as she bounces in the flak

Close to target,  bombardier peers through his sight

Crew alert, searching, but  no enemy aircraft to fight

Stomach churning, nerves affray, waiting for a bang

Bombs gone, lets go home, then a bone jarring clang!


Skipper speaks on intercom, breathing rather fast

“Tail feathers damaged boys, ill hold her to her last”

Rudder trim and adjust the power, to keep an even keel

 arms afire as muscles strain, on the control wheel

He warns the crew, ‘she’s losing height, I can see the coast ahead’

Gunners, Nav, engineer thoughts running through their heads


Is this the last, will we make it back, don’t really want to swim!

Airframe shudders, crew prepare, the chances looking slim

The controls go slack, she drops her nose, another cable frays

Prepare to bail, the skipper shouts, the nose he tries to raise

One by one the crew depart but three decide to stay

Lets see if we can hold her up, and make it back, time for all to prey


Its no good, she’s going down, the skipper sets the trim

Lets get out, they clamber back, the prospects rather grim.

Cable snaps, the tails goes up, the three are thrown about

She’s doomed and going down, there’s no chance of getting out

Bang she hits, three lives snuffed out, they will not grow old

Three brave men remembered, their story now extolled.


In memory of the crew of B24 49-94826



© Copyright Mark Hillier