Bard Hill is part of Salthouse Heath, near the North Norfolk coast, and during WW2 it was the site of a radar station. In January 1945, a Lancaster bomber, returning from a raid on a German oil refinery, crashed into the radar pylon there, killing all members of the crew.
A routine raid on the Leuna refinery,
bombs dropping from the darkness,
a demoralising rain
bringing destruction and death,
sapping the will of a half-beaten enemy.
A difficult return,
bad weather, poor visibility,
redirections to another airfield;
but as we approached the Norfolk coast,
we started to relax a little,
and let our thoughts turn to other things –
the weekend leave,
the beer and skittles,
and the Lincoln girls who would love a man in uniform
if given half a chance
and would bend over backwards to snare him
at the dance on Saturday night;
and who knows when all this will be over?
Those thoughts were the last we had
as our plane collided with the radar pylon
here on Bard Hill
a prang that could be heard
as far away as Holt.
The dance went on without us, and the war came to an end.
There were no bluebirds over the cliffs of Cromer,
no wait and sees –
just faded silk poppies
fluttering in the breeze
as the blackbird and the barley-bird
offer up their songs
to an empty sky.