From the Digital Archives: “Rackheath Memories”

Don Allen


I rather enjoy looking through the Digital Archives for poems and artwork as it is the WWII equivalent of WWI’s “trenchart” in my mind. As I was doing so I came across this piece, “Rackheath Memories”, which is a mixture of both.


Owned by 1st Lt. Eugene A. Garrett, this book was compiled by Sgt. Jack M. Preston and S/Sgt. Harris L. Conway. It contains about a dozen cartoons, ostensibly depicting life at Rackheath, as well as autograph pages with little poems.



I particularly enjoyed the poem on the opening page. It reads:

When you are old and your hair is grey,
Think of the things of yesteday,
A pretty face and heavenly form,
A harbour snug, with never a storm.
Banquets for Emperors; Feasts for Kings,
Revels for Bacchus, drinks (hic) and things.
See in these pages, your (mis) spent youth,
And say to yourself in veritable truth,
Rackheath, it was beautiful; the days were all swell
Or — egad, a Valhalla, I’d sooner see hell

It shows the authors knowledge of mythology, as Bacchus is the Roman god of winemaking. The mention of Valhalla, one of the Norse Halls where legendary heroes and valiant warriors go upon their deaths, is telling because in Norse mythology Valhalla is a waiting place until the final, very bloody, battle of Ragnarok.


Poem on opening page.

The final page contains a handwritten poem, “Ballad of the 467th”, that I read outloud at the 2nd Air Division Stories event this past March.


To see the rest of the book, click here. To search our archives, click here.

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