MAY 1918


David Childs

Through his own incompetence your narrator forgot to mention the creation of the Royal Air Force on 1st April 2018. To make amends the appended poem is one of the two great poems written about aerial combat during those hundred years. Shortly after its inauguration the RAF launched its first bombing raid on a German city, Cologne. The Germans responded by attacking London the following day and also the hospitals well behind the lines at Etaples. All month long the German army was pressing forward on the western front. In the third battle of the Aisne they advanced a, never previously matched, ten miles in one day. At the end of April they were back on the Marne. Meanwhile, on the eastern front peace treaties were being signed and new nations created including the short-lived Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, soon to be swallowed up by the Bolsheviks


Private Peter Gane, of the Wiltshire Regiment, died, aged 34, many miles from home, and is buried in the Allahabad New Cantonment Cemetery while his name is recorded on the War Memorial at Chennai/Madras. His parents were George and Emily Gane of 54, Newtown. He was not the only Tisbury member of the 2nd/4th Battalion to die in India: on 3 June 1919, long after the Armistice, Private Bernard Hibberd, the last of three Tisbury Hibberd's to fall, also died in India but has no known grave.


Yeats wrote a wonderful elegy to his late friend, the aviator, Major Robert Gregory who died in Italy in February 1918 but before so doing penned this sonnet, in his memory, entitled
'An Irish Airman Foresees His Death.'

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

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