A Strange Kind Of Magic by James Marks

RAF Upper Finsbury,

North Riding of Yorkshire,

September 1944.

The circle of seven men standing evenly spaced around the B.Mk.VII Handley Page Halifax, coded “KG-W” and known as Walton’s Wandering Warmonger, presented a strange sight to any outsider who was not familiar with the superstitions and rituals of Bomber Command. A veil of silence descended upon the seven motionless men for some time, before they broke the circle and went to the fuselage door, although there was one more ritual left to complete.

“Would it be alright if I borrowed this?” Marley did not wait for Dane to reply; grabbing hold of his skipper’s lucky umbrella, the soft-spoken Wireless Operator/Air Gunner clambered up onto the wing of the bomber via a ground ladder and bowed down to his crew. The other six airmen looked up at him in a mixture of surprise, shock, and somehow, even understanding.

With a flourish the umbrella was opened up and Marley began. On the ground, Dane Walton watched on in stunned silence as one of the most quiet and steadfast airmen on station danced up and down the wing. Holding it high above his head, Marley gave a pitch-perfect rendition of There’ll Always Be An England and continued on with his strange – and unsettling – ritual. 

Crawford Rawls, their outspoken Australian bomb-aimer, and Marley’s cousin, looked up in embarrassment and then glanced over his shoulder, hoping that none of the other crews were watching this display. The performance soon came to an end. Marley climbed back down the ladder, handed the umbrella back with his trademark grin, and climbed into the fuselage via the entry ladder and took up his position at the set. Silently, he hoped he would make it home again; there were fifteen operations left and Marley’s second tour would be finished. 

Bio and Image:

James Marks was born and raised outside of Christchurch in the picturesque South Island of New Zealand. James considers his partner, family and friends to be the most important to him. He is currently doing many things in life; a volunteer firefighter, history/literacy tutor, research librarian with a military museum and a part-time video game connoisseur. If he is not spending time with those close to him, finding himself in rough terrain chasing a wildfire as a firefighter, or imparting his knowledge of all things history onto his students, he is scouring historical archives – both physical and digital – for the next seed of inspiration. 

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