‘To All the Young Women of England’

We have been busy updating our contact information in preparation for our new biennial email newsletter for veterans of the 2nd Air Division and their families. One of the veterans, Fred Becchetti, wrote to us to say that he reads the blog, and offered to contribute! Of course, we happily set him right to the task. This makes Fred our inaugural 2nd Air Division Veteran Guest Blogger, and we’re thrilled to have him! We should call him Poet Laureate, too, because his first contribution is a poem in appreciation of some good wartime company. Read on….

On a night in 1944 an 18-year-old girl named Audrey from Harleston, Norfolk attended a dance at Tibenham, home of the 445th bomb group. There she danced with Bombadier Lt. Freddie Becchetti. In his diary, he would write, “I danced with a girl named Audrey, and she danced like a dream!”

Many years later in 1995, Becchetti, after retiring from the U.S. diplomatic service, toured England. He visited his wartime bomber base and actually found Audrey and her family in Harleston. He and Audrey corresponded until her passing in 2006. Meanwhile, Becchetti had written the following words:

To All the Young Women of England Who Took Us Into Their Lives and Danced With Us

You were life and goodness! You were beauty, hope, Peace!
You were laughter and warmth, Softness and Light;
You were Love! Cheer!
You were Rhythm and Grace; Kindness and Heart!
You were real.
You were Joy!

And wasn’t it all fun? Wasn’t it exciting?

What an adventure it was to meet on the dance floor and
     wonder if the other could dance and then discover
     that yes! She could and yes! He could, too!
And the two of you would settle into the rhythm, and he
     would do his best steps and find that yes! She
     could follow him, this pretty English girl three
     thousand miles away from jitterbug America
     in the middle of England!

You could feel the sweat trickling on your back and see
     a glisten across her forehead
     just above the sparkle
     of her young and beautiful eyes
     as the music got faster
     and your bodies moved together smoothly
     until it was just as though
     the two of you were one
     in how you wanted to dance the song.

You felt the elbows and shoulders of others,
     but after a while you didn’t feel anything
     as the two of you became the music
     and the music became the two of you
     and you drifted off dreaming
     in the happiness of being young,
     while the world outdoors went to hell.

Then you danced a slow one:
     the dreams came quietly;
     you held to each other
     cheek to the warmth of the other’s cheek;
     arms in close;
     a brushing of her curls on your neck;
     a bold touching body to body;
     but only for a fleeting moment,
     for those were different times.
     And the slow song ended
     even though you didn’t want it to end.

The two of you stood together
     alone in the middle of the floor
     as others drifted off,
     and you held to each other,
     cheek on cheek
     arms in close,
     until the music left your body.

The young women of England who danced with us,
The young women of England who talked to us,
The young women of England who took us into their lives.

How much we loved you then!
And we will forever love you,
For you were life!

_______________________________________________________________

We’re so thankful to Fred for sharing his poem with our readers. Fred will appear again as guest blogger, so stay tuned! As you can imagine, he’s got many, many fascinating stories to share.

USAAF dance at Tibenham (from our bomb group history library)

USAAF dance at Tibenham (from our bomb group history library)

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Filed under Memorial Library, World War 2

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