In Memory of Sergeant Pilot Ken Roberts.
152 Sqdn service no.655773
Killed in Action on 20th March 1943
This is a tale of a local lad
Who was born at a time when things were bad.
And the only thing certain for a lad of his time,
Was a life in the mill or work down a mine.
He did well at school, but being no fool
Knew that jobs were not easy to find.
And it wasn’t quite heaven as one of eleven,
With ten brothers and sisters to mind.
With money so short he’d only one thought,
Helping his dad and his mother.
That was the ways of the young ones those days.
A home loving son and a brother.
It’s now thirty-eight, the worlds in a state
And Europe’s about to close down.
But Ken has no cares; he’s collecting the fares
On a bus as it goes around town.
Tho’ the wages were small he felt ten feet tall,
As at last in life he had a role.
But as in the past the job didn’t last
And it looked like he’d be on the dole.
It’s never been clear where he got the idea
But he went and he joined the T.A.
It wasn’t a move many folks would approve,
When war was a few weeks away.
In their Uniforms brown they’d march up and down
Slapping their guns on their shoulders.
Folks watched for a while and then with a smile
Would call them the ‘Saturday night Soldiers.’
When the muck hit the fan and the conflict began
And the lads were sent off to fight.
The ships left their piers; there were songs and 3 cheers
As Old England slipped out of sight.
They stood on the decks some were straining their necks
To see the approaching shore.
To Ken this did mean, twas the farthest he’d been
But his father had been there before.
He’d fought in the mud and given his blood
In the trenches two decades gone by.
Tho’ Ken felt a fear, he shed not a tear
In those days young men didn’t cry.
Once they joined the fight they met the full might
Of a foe they could never defeat.
The order came thro’ that the best thing to do
Was pack up and start to retreat.
After days on the run bombed and shelled by the ‘Hun’
What was left of the lads reached the sea.
But with few ships in sight they knew that their plight
Was bad as it ever could be.
As the bombs screamed and fell, it was like being in hell
As they waited their turn on the beach.
They stood in the tide with nowhere to hide
And thought home was way out of their reach.
But Kens luck held that day and he got away.
His first trip abroad was now over.
As a boy he’d began but ended a man
When he stepped off the boat at Dover.
While men fight and die in England’s grey sky
And the Battle of Britain rages.
Tho’ a very close run, the battle was won,
Remembered in history’s pages.
Near the end of the show, reserves were so low
It looked like defeat was in sight.
Then the nation gave thanks as men from all ranks
Came forward and took up the fight.
You couldn’t blame Ken if he’d said there and then
Of fighting he’d had his share.
But when the call came he put forward his name
Determined to take to the air.
When Kens posting came thro’, he did what men do,
Said goodbye to his family and friends.
Tho’ he knew in his heart this could be the start
Of a story with no happy end.
To the Merlin’s beat in the burning heat
He flew in the African sun.
He’d realised a dream in this deadly machine
That had started when he was young.
He’d had to get by without Grammar School tie
Or money or College degree.
But when put to the test was as good as the rest
And better than most could be.
He took off at first light, and by sunset that night
They knew he would never return.
Now he lies in the sand in a far foreign land
Neath a sun that forever will burn.
Now the story is done, the battle was won
Peace returned to the land of the free.
But was it in vain, he suffered the pain
To die at the age twenty-three?
Written by Eric Spence May 03