From the recording When There's Good to Be Done

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by Loretta Simonet © 2015
1.  Ball turret gunner in a B-17,
Lester joined when he was nineteen.
Headed back to England on his tenth mission,
Germans hit their number four engine.
The fuel tank trailed flames thirty feet long
Great explosions rocked each man
The pilot turned the plane around,
Tryin’ to make it back to land.
2. Lester strapped on his parachute,
As the wintry North Sea they crossed,
When they saw the Denmark coast below,
They bailed out and the wing blew off.
Dozens of guns pointed at him,
As he landed hard in a field,
The beatings were brutal but all he would utter,
Was name, rank and serial number.
Lester do you think that you will
Live through World War Two,
Will you see peace again,
And Minnesota too?
Oh what mother and father are going through,
I will not lose hope,
I have to get back for them,  
I will get home.
3. At Stalag Luft Six, Lester’s hunger pangs 
Never went away.
Once a day he got watery soup,
A can of rotten fish some days.
The Russian troops were closing in,
So they jammed the men in boxcars,
Then four days crowded so tight in a coal ship,
They stood, no food, a sip of water.
4. At the next camp, Stalag Luft Four,
There was less food than before.
When the Russians got close again, the Germans evacuated,
Ten thousand men.
Lester marched out with five hundred of them,
So weak, that February day,
In bitter cold, with ragged clothes,
Bayonets pointed the way.
5.  Week  after week they staggered on,
They slept on frozen ground or in a barn, 
Les had one thin blanket, holes in his shoes,
Like walking dead, they herded them along.
Some days they ate nothing, dysentery plagued them,
And when a man could not go on,
Lester heard the shot, it happened every day,
And the German Death March moved on.
6. The English Army freed them in May,
They had walked for 86 days,
Evading the Allies nearly 800
Miles the experts now say.
In 2012 Lester met the pilot    
Of the plane that shot him down,
He said thank you for sparing us,
You let us bail out and make it to ground.
I did get home !