Poem of the Month: June

The Ghosts of the Eighth Attack

J. L. Hitchings

Lieutenant J. L. Hitchings was a member of the 8th Aero Squadron, United States Air Service, during World War I.  His poem acknowledges the sacrifices made by the men of the squadron.  The names of many of the men whose names appear in the poem can be identified as combat and training losses.  The De Havilland DH-4 was a two-place reconnaissance aircraft manned by a pilot and an observer.  The 8th Aero Squadron was active on the French front during the last four months of the war, from August to November of 1918. 

When first the roar of a D.H. 4

    Came sounding over the plain,

The clan who flew were tried and true,

    And stout of heart and brain;

Our squadron then lost gallant men,

    And well we have learned their lack;

And we’ll drink a toast to each brave ghost—

    The Ghosts of the Eighth Attack. 

Kingsland turned to a spin and burned,

    Rex and Gallagher died

In battle flame on the field of fame,

    With Mitchell by their side. 

From Death unveiled they never quailed,

    Or broke upon the rack;

But well we ken they fought like men,

    The Ghosts of the Eighth Attack! 

Dean and Bateman and Hollingsworth—

    Death garnered thigh and thew,

And Captain Shea, with his Irish way,

    Virgin and Hartman too. 

Robinson, Martin, Grodecki,

    And Mackey, and Womack;

Brave hearts of gold that now lie cold—

    The Ghosts of the Eighth Attack. 

And I sometimes think, when the night winds howl,

    And never a ship is out,

That I hear the roar of a D.H. 4,

    And the wail of wires in doubt;

And I think I see in a spectre ship

    Spirits that must come back;

And I hail them then, who have died like men—

   The Ghosts of the Eighth Attack! 

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