Serving in India 1942 to 1946 – My father-in-law’s time with Squadron 159 (Part 1)

My father-in-law is on the left.

For four years during World War II, my father-in-law served in RAF Squadron 159 in India.

We knew very little about this period of his life until the death of my mother-in-law in 2004. Soon after this he began to talk more about his experiences, firstly travelling aboard ship and being in India for four long years in various locations.

He also produced some black and white photographs in regard to his service, some of which I have included here for illustration in these several pieces.

It became a fairly common trait among servicemen on all sides after that war, and also post the Great War of 1914-18, to be reticent about their time in service, especially about describing more traumatic events. It must be remembered that back then there was little in the way of counselling after experiencing such action.

The B-24 Consolidated Liberator.

It must be said, however, that my father-in-law didn’t see active service during that time, arriving on the subcontinent at the age of twenty one. He was part of the ground crew, a critically important role for missions. They had been sent onto India in the first half of the year, before the arrival of the aircraft; the plane of choice for the long distance raids eastwards was the B-24 Consolidated Liberator, a four engine bomber produced in the United States.

The reason for the deployment of this squadron (among others) was to defend the then British Empire from Japanese incursions into south east Asia, threatening Burma and even India itself. India was strategically well placed for such operations to halt and repel this advance.


Copyright Francis 2022

Poem: ‘The Return’

photo of person walking near orange leafed trees
Photo by KIM DAE JEUNG on Pexels.com

She was sat
on the old porch, a piece
of me I’d left
behind
in some spring
long ago. I knew it
in an instant, as
soon as she looked up—
our minds dovetailing as if
nothing had happened
in those draining,
intervening years. A part
of me wanted
to leave,
to move on and deny
what my heart was insisting, but
the spark was still there,
some sweet, indefinable
thing.

She tapped
the space beside her and
I sat down
on the creaking pinewood. The air was
still,
a low September sun
buttering the track
in front of us
and the turning trees
all around us
and the pale skin
of her arms, her legs,
and that gentle,
dappled face.

“Do you remember
when we were spring?”

I nodded, watching
her lips break
into that dimpled smile. In
her eyes I saw again
the boats
and the blossom,
like promises, journeys
only taken in our minds

poem © copyright Francis Barker 2012

Poem: ‘England’s Glory’

man person men old
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He taps the roll up on his weathered
seat, strikes the match
towards him as an old man should, a box
of ‘England’s Glory’ and tobacco bag
thrown at me, as if they weren’t
all his worldly goods.

“No thanks, I don’t.”

He shrugs as if it’s my loss,
cups the yellow light with
the nonchalance of a friend, his hands
raw and dirty. He draws, a near
toothless mouth collapsing
like worn bellows;
he exhales, deftly aiming a spit
of spare flake to his right, while knotty
fingers wipe wet lips— the sound
of sandpaper on wood. And so
the coughing starts. There’s little else
to fill the new day.

* ‘England’s Glory’ is a brand of match

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

 

Poem ‘Flux’

The window is
ajar,

just enough to
let in some air, to

tantalise the cat
hooked by

night’s soft invitation.
Something outside

is burning, hangs
in the yielding light, though

I’ve never
seen those crimson clouds

phase
to dusky pink

and then to grey.
It’s a flux which

eludes me
every time.

Magic, you might say,
like being in space,

and now

© copyright David F. Barker 2012

Poem ‘Keeping it Simple’

Uprising fist
Uprising fist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was you who said that
it’s not what you earn but
how little you need. That
was the way to fly
in their face— living
within your means
is no good to them. They
want your soul, your very
soul, make it drown
in debt and fed
on all the salt
and fat
and lies you can swallow.

And they want you bound
to their state, you said,
their secret,
silent state. Well, I don’t
know about that, but
your answer was simple, a firm riposte
which said ‘no’. It meant
watching the pennies
and paying your dues. Keeping it
simple,
not listening
to the news

poem © copyright David F. Barker 2012