“Briefing at Five”

By Thomas B. Applewhite
Bombardier, 385th Bomb Group (Heavy)
Great Ashfield, England, 1943

It’s cold inside at 3:00 A.M.
When bare feet hit the floor.
It’s dark outside at 4 A.M.
When you close the mess hall door.
It’s tense inside at 5:00 A.M.
When the briefing table’s lit.
It’s foggy out at 6:00 A.M.
Out where the bombers sit.
It’s cramped inside at 7:00 A.M.
When you close the bomb bay doors.
It’s noisy out at 8:00 A.M.
Over smiling English moors.
It’s quiet inside at 9:00 A.M.
When you cross the channel ports.
It’s tough inside at 10:00 A.M.
When the ship in front aborts.
It’s flacky out at 11:00 A.M.
When on the bombing leg.
It’s bad downstairs at 11:15
When the bombers lay their eggs.
It’s brisk inside at 1:00 P.M.
And also brisk at 2:00.
One ship’s down and one lags back;
The escort’s over due.
It’s tired inside at 3:00 P.M.,
It’s tired and sore and stiff,
It’s glad within at 4:00 P.M.
Over chalky Dover’s Cliffs.
It’s quiet inside at 5:00 P.M.
When your bunkmate’s puppy whines;
It’s tired inside at 6:00 P.M.
Where the combat crews all dine.
It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s tense, it’s brisk,
It’s tired all through and through;
It’s quiet, it’s loud, it’s war, it’s risk,
And we’re up tomorrow, too.

Published in The Air Forces Escape and Evasion Society Fall 2001 Communications, vol. 15, no. 4, Sept. 21, 2001.

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