I took in a show at Lunchbox Theatre here in Calgary yesterday. It’s playing until November 16th at Lunchbox Theatre, and if you’ve an interest in the Albertan experience during World War Two it’s worth catching before it ends.
Between December 1939 and March 1945, 107 schools in Canada trained over 130,000 graduates for the RAF and RCAF through the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. That Men May Fly, written by Winn Bray, tells the story of two of those airmen and a female mechanic stationed in Fort MacLeod, in Alberta.
If you would like to learn more about the BCATP, it’s worth checking out the Canadian film For The Moment, starring Russell Crowe. At one point, he recites the poem High Flight, which was written by John Gillespie Magee, a young American who flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force and was killed at the age of 19, flying over England in 1941.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
How sad that such a beautiful poem was written by one who died so young. I find when I read about the men and women who served in world war I and II I’m always struck by how young they were.
It’s a lovely poem, isn’t it. I had no idea he was so young. Nineteen! The first time I heard it was when Reagan recited it after the Challenger disaster in 1986, but Russell Crowe gives a good rendition of it in the movie I mentioned.