Thursday, June 02, 2016

The North Coates Strike Wing memorial

1. The North Coates Strike Wing memorial
Cleethorpes promenade, Lincolnshire
2. (Top): Brief history of the North Coates Strike Wing
(Bottom): Remembrance citation for the dead
These are found on the plinth of the memorial
3. ‘The Beaufighter’ (“Beau”)
A poem by Gavin Ewart (1916 – 1995)
Also found on the plinth of the memorial 
4. ‘Extinction (The Airman’s Prayer)’
A poem by F/O E.R. Davey, R.C.A.F. (1921 – 1944)
Also found on the plinth of the memorial
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For additional information clock on ‘Comments’ below.

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3 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Introduction: The North Coates Strike Wing Memorial

A memorial to the North Coates Strike Wing, Lincolnshire can be found on the promenade at Cleethorpes [Photograph No. 1]. The North Coates Strike Wing was formed in 1942 from 143, 236 and 254 Squadrons flying the Beaufighter in the heavy fighter and ‘Torbeau’ torpedo variants.

The memorial was sculpted by Pamela Taylor (1929 – 2014) and unveiled on 25 September 1999 by Air Chief Marahal Sir Neil Wheeler (1917 – 2009). Pamela (Pam) Taylor undertook a number of commissions with an R.A.F. theme such as busts of Sir Douglas Bader and Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris for the R.A.F. Museum.

The Strike Wing was based at RAF North Coates, a short distance to the south of Cleethorpes and was tasked with attacking enemy shipping in the North Sea. This memorial takes the form of an R.A.F. pilot mounted on a plinth. There is a brief history of North Coates Strike Wing on the plinth as well as a remembrance citation for those who died while serving in the war [Photograph No. 2].
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Thursday, 02 June, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Wartime poetry

Two of the plinths of the memorial have wartime poems on them: ‘The Beaufighter’ (“Beau”) by Gavin Ewart (1916 – 1995) [Photograph No. 3] and ‘Extinction (The Airman’s Prayer), by Flight Officer Ernest Raymond (‘Bus’) Davey, RCAF (1921 – 1944) [Photograph No. 4].

Gavin Ewart’s poem is about Bristol Beaufighter which crashes into the sea and sinks. Gavin Buchan Ewart was born in London in 1916 and was a recognized poet before the war. After receiving a B.A. from Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1937 and an M.A. in 1942, Gavin Ewart served in the Royal Artillery. He had several books of poetry published after the war and died in 1995.

This is the poem as seen on the memorial [Photograph No. 3]:

‘The Beaufighter’ (“Beau”)

When a Beau goes in, into the drink,
It makes you think, because, you see, they always sink,
But nobody says "Poor lad" or goes about looking sad,
Because, you see, it's the war, it's the unalterable law.

Although it's perfectly certain the pilot's gone for a Burton,
And the observer too, it's nothing to do with you,
And if they both should go, to a land where falls no rain,
Nor hail, nor driven snow, do you suppose they care?

You and herald, I cry or say a prayer or sigh,
In the cold sea, in the dark, it isn't a lark,
But it isn't Original Sin, it’s only a “Beau” going in.
……….

Ernest Raymond Davey, known as ‘Bus’, was born and raised in London, Ontario, Canada. During WW2, he was serving as a Flying Officer with the R.C.A.F. 404 Squadron. He was one of four Canadian airmen killed in action due to a mid-air collision of two Beaufighters on 2 October 1944 while on a mission near the Dutch coast.

This poem, ‘Extinction (The Airman's Prayer)’ was found among his personal effects after his death. It was pinned on the door of the Operations Room and ultimately became well known.

Basically, it is in the form of a prayer. This is the poem as seen on the memorial [Photograph No. 4]:


“Extinction” (‘The Airman's Prayer’)

Almighty and all-present power,
Short is the prayer I make to Thee;
I do not ask in battle hour
For any shield to cover me.
The vast unalterable way,
From which the stars do not depart,
May not be turned aside to stay
The bullet flying to my heart.

I ask no help to strike the foe;
I seek no petty victory here.
The enemy I hate, I know
To Thee is dear.
But this I pray: be at my side
When death is drawing through the sky;
Almighty God who also died,
Teach me the way that I should die.
…………………

Thursday, 02 June, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Further reading

To read a previous article about RAF North Coates, Lincolnshire, click on the following link:

RAF North Coates, Lincolnshire
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Dedication

Dedicated to all those who served with the North Coates Strike Wing during WW2, especially those who lost their lives:

“Sadness flies away on the wings of time.”
Jean de La Fontaine (1621 – 1695)
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Thursday, 02 June, 2016  

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