Prose & Poetry - The Muse in Arms - The Flight to Flanders

"The Flight to Flanders" by Lessel Hutcheon First published in London in November 1917 and reprinted in February 1918 The Muse in Arms comprised, in the words of editor E. B. Osborne:

"A collection of war poems, for the most part written in the field of action, by seamen, soldiers, and flying men who are serving, or have served, in the Great War".

Below is one of eight poems featured within the War in the Air section of the collection.  You can access other poems within the section via the sidebar to the right.

The Flight to Flanders
by Lessel Hutcheon

Does he know the road to Flanders, does he know the criss-cross tracks
With the row of sturdy hangars at the end?
Does he know that shady corner where, the job done, we relax
To the music of the engines round the bend?
It is here that he is coming with his gun and battle 'plane
To the little aerodrome at - well, you know!
To a wooden hut abutting on a quiet country lane,
For he's ordered overseas and he must go.

Has he seen those leagues of trenches, the traverses steep and stark,
High over which the British pilots ride?
Does he know the fear of flying miles to east-ward of his mark
When his only map has vanished over-side?
It is there that he is going, and it takes a deal of doing,
There are many things he really ought to know;
And there isn't time to swot 'em if a Fokker he's pursuing,
For he's ordered overseas and he must go.

Does he know that ruined town, that old --- of renown?
Has he heard the crack of Archie bursting near?
Has he known that ghastly moment when your engine lets you down?
Has he ever had that feeling known as fear?
It's to Flanders he is going with a brand-new aeroplane
To take the place of one that's dropped below,
To fly and fight and photo mid the storms of wind and rain,
For he's ordered overseas and he must go.

Then the hangar door flies open and the engine starts its roar,
And the pilot gives the signal with his hand;
As he rises over England he looks back upon the shore,
For the Lord alone knows where he's going to land.
Now the plane begins to gather speed, completing lap on lap,
Till, after diving down and skimming low,
They're of to shattered Flanders, by the compass and the map -
They were ordered overseas and had to go.

The Parados was the side of a trench farthest from the enemy.

- Did you know?