Title: The grave of John Gillespie Magee, Jr - writer of 'High Flight'
Author: P. M. Fenwick
Date: May 2016

The writer of the most famous aviation poem of all time and, surely, the most famous poem of WWII. There's a wealth of information about John Magee and his famous sonnet on the internet for those who would like to know more.

Aged just 19, John, a Spitfire pilot with the RCAF, was killed in a tragic flying accident soon after writing 'High Flight'. He is buried in a war grave in a beautifully tranquil spot at Holy Cross Cemetery, Scopwick, Lincolnshire.

The sonnet has long been a favourite of mine. You can read the first and last lines on his grave (see photo). Here it is in full:

High Flight

- by P/O John Gillespie Magee RCAF

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, nor 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


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