Manneheim 18th November 1943

William E. Rowbotham


Rank: Pilot Officer
Squadron: 434 Bluenose
Stationed: Tholthorpe, Yorkshire England

No Way Back by Predicted Flak

Written 1943 By William E. Rowbotham

This is not a line or even of the sort
But the happening precise and short
Of what took place on a night in November
And followed by events that I remember
I was shooting Altair just at the time
For we were off course and close to the Rhine.

The twinkling stars gazed down from up there
While we were beneath in the cool winter air
Without any warning came Jerry’s attack
Surrounding the kite with black puffs of flak
A burst through the starboard made the motor’s whine
Seven more beginners were finishing their time.

Heavier than ever came the opposition
Putting us into that fatal position
Our A (for apple) out of control
The skipper said “Jump” so I went for a stroll
Landing east of the river I was captured quite soon
Was searched in a village then taken to Cologne.

Unable to speak German, I was left all alone,
Until I met the others in the late afternoon
Six of the crew came out of that flak-shattered wreck
Which continued on downward to burn on the deck
The one who was missing we knew at a glance
Captain Smith gave his life that night we know.

For he bravely fought on to let us go
We owe our lives to the skipper, who with his courage at hand
Saved us, died, passed on to a happier land.
In the cooler for eight and transit for three
Then continued on here to Stalag IV B.

Freedom taken away, also your right
Days dragged on wearily, and you prayed for the night
Nothing to do but walk, eat and dream,
You finally got into the loathsome routine.

I am down right and really sorry
That it’s all turned out this way
Yet be thankful you’re out alive, with worry,
Be Cheerful, Merry and Gay
We’ll see the women again,
And drink both wine and gin,
When the Allied Armies reign
In battle scarred Berlin.

Shave and a haircut when you please,
Showers when you have the fleas,
For cleanliness in brushed aside,
And things in Germany come with the tide.

It’s not a land of milk and honey
Where you’re served strawberries and cream
But you eat once a week if you’re lucky
And don’t pick the fat from the lean.

We Will Remember

animated maple leaf

Thank you, Veterans,

With sincere gratitude from all Canadians

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