Royal Flying Corps Mess Song – A Poor Aviator Lay Dying
Tune: My Bonnie lies over the ocean
A poor aviator lay dying
At the end of a bright summer’s day
His comrades had gathered about him
To carry his fragments away
The airplane was piled on his wishbone
His Hotchkiss was wrapped round his head
He wore a spark-plug on each elbow
‘Twas plain he would shortly be dead
He spit out a valve and a gasket
And stirred in the sump where he lay
And then to his wondering comrades
These brave parting words he did say
“Take the magneto out of my stomach,
And the butterfly valve off my neck
Extract from my liver the crankshaft,
There are lots of good parts in this wreck”
“Take the manifold out of my larynx,
And the cylinders out of my brain,
Take the piston rods out of my kidneys,
And assemble the engine again.”
Pull the longeron out of my backbone,
The turnbuckle out of my ear (my ear).
From the small of my back take the rudder-
There’s all of your aeroplane here.
I’ll be riding a cloud in the morning,
With no rotary before me to cuss (to cuss).
Take the lead from your feet and get busy,
Here’s another lad needing the bus!
There are various versions of this folk song, some with additional verses to the ones here. As in many communities, singing songs was a way people came together, particularly at a time before television and even radio. It was also a way of commenting on the experiences they shared, as is the case with this song.