The Poem for the Month of July 2021 is “Hattonchatel Revisited,” by Percival G. Hart. Hart was a member of the 135th Aero Squadron, which flew DH-4 observation aircraft in combat in France during the last year of World War I, in the late summer and fall of 1918. He wrote the unit history of the 135th Aero Squadron, which was published in 1939.
This poem was hand-written in a copy of the unit history. It is written in sonnet form, a perfect poetic form for reflection on past events. Hart evidently visited Hattonchatel in July, 1962, and wrote the poem in October of that year.
Percival G. Hart
Now from this high escarpment once again
I trace the winding streams, the towns, the lake,
The woods and poplar-shadowed roads that make
The checkered pattern of the Woevre Plain.
Familiar landmarks I can clearly see,
Remembered for their parts in battle’s tide –
The spots where Suiter and where Boyer died,
Far Metz, and Chambley and the Wooded “V.”
And gazing thus intently I forget
That forty years and more have passed us by,
And half expect to turn and hear Krout say,
“Let’s drive on back to Toul, there’s time to fly.”
And ghosts of warplanes, which long since we met,
Form in the mists that rise from La Chaussee.
November 5, 1918 / July 10, 1962
Woevre Plain, Metz, Chambley, Toul, La Chausee: locations in northern France where the 135th Aero Squadron flew its combat patrols during World War I. Metz was a large German-held town back of the trench lines. The Germans used it as a supply depot.
Hattonchatel is a castle that rises above the Woevre Plain; today it is a stylish tourist attraction.
Suiter: Second Lieutenant Wilbur C. Suiter, killed in action, 9/12/1918
Bowyer: Second Lieutenant James W. Bowyer, killed in action, 9/12/1918
Krout: Second Lieutenant Ray W. Krout, killed in a flying accident after the war, 11/13/1938