005 Lest We Forget

My 500word-150x150This fictional piece is loosely based on facts. The location is Limavady, Northern Ireland, The town I grew up in.

 It is a memorial to all those young men and women who gave their lives in the ongoing battle against tyranny.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


The oats are reaped and stored away.
The barley too. Winter approaches, long and black. I long for the warmth and sunlight of Australia.

Why do I do this after all these years? My body is old and my memories are fading too. This is why I come.

control tower
(1) The Control Tower – Aghanloo

It’s been long deserted. The control tower a shell forlorn and vandalised.

Only the hangers and the black dome are recognisable, but for how much longer?

The farmers and industry are reclaiming their land.

The 'Black Dome'
(2) The mysterious black dome

remember that dome, I used to train inside it. I was an air gunner stationed there.

The mountains once reverberated to the roar of Whitley, Hudson and Wellingtons. Now the silence is deafening. Except for the wind. Always the wind.

(3) Beautiful & Cruel Benevenagh

Ahead lies Benevenagh, beautiful, cruel Benevenagh.

I pull my coat tight around me. It’s not the cold, it’s the memories that make me shiver. That’s why I’ve returned. Today is Remembrance Day.

I’ve been remembering for the last seventy-three years.’

‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.’

It’s just me now. Last year there were two of us but Andy died in August. He was 95.

The notes of the ‘Last post’ linger. People return to their business, some to shop, others to catch up, down a pint or two and enjoy ‘the craic’.

Time to head back to the hotel. My bags are packed and I’m ready to go home. The bus depot at the bottom of Main Street used to take five minute to walk to. It’s longer now, much longer.

Halfway there I stop. I have one more mission to accomplish.

(4) Christ-Church-Limavady

The gates of the churchyard are closed. I gaze between the bars, past the ancient oak tree and cannon to the old, grey church.

My eyes move slowly to the left searching for the reason of my visit. There they are, twenty-four headstones, two rows close to the West wall, the final resting place of friends and comrades. Tommy’s resting place.

The gate opens to my touch. The grounds are immaculate. I say a silent prayer of thanks that someone still cares after all these years.

(5) WW2 War graves, Christchurch, Limavady

With each touch of the granite I say their names aloud. Their faces still familiar after all these years.

So young, so much potential, all wasted.

J. A .Buckand, Navigator, only 21. He was the youngest of the team. Jack had travelled from South Africa, joined the RAF and died too soon.

K. R. Morris, Pilot Officer. A Brit, volunteered at the start of the war. Kenny gave away a university degree to serve King and Country. He was studying mechanical engineering at the time war broke out. Only 23 when he died.

F. W. Matthews, Radio Operator, was the oldest of us. 27 years of age. An old man compared to the rest of us. Married with two little children. ‘ Bill’ was an only son who planning to enter the family grocery business. One day he expected to take over from his dad. He had plans to extend the business. It never happened.

They died together, not fighting the enemy but in a senseless accident.

They had just returned from a 10-hour patrol over the North Atlantic. Absolute boredom. No enemy sighted, just hour upon tedious hour of mind numbing emptiness. No chance of slacking off though.

All it took was a second’s lapse of concentration for a U-boat to avoid detection, escape and wreak havoc with our convoys. The one that got away could sink thousands or tons of shipping and take the lives of hundreds of our merchant sailors.

Twenty three hundred hours, 11:00pm local time, the patrol was all but over, home base in sight. They were in radio contact with the control tower.

Wheels down, flaps set for landing, then silence. Nothing, nothing that is except for the orange glow high up on the slopes of Benevenagh, or ‘Ben Twitch’ to the local aircrew. It had a killer reputation. RAF Limavady or Aghanloo airfield was built much to close to the mountain. Beautiful though it was ‘Ben Twitch’ was unforgiving, no second chance.

They all died. Jack, Ken, Bill, Johnnie, Kevin and Tommy. The aircraft flew into the mountain. Bad weather and bad luck. They never saw it coming.

This was not the first crash, nor was it the last.

I should have died that night too. I was rostered to fly that patrol, but tonsillitis put me in hospital for a week. 

Those troublesome tonsils saved my life.

Tommy volunteered and took my place.

Tommy was my brother!

Now it’s your turn . . .

  1. Take time and remember those who served and did not return.
  2. Take time to remember and say thank you to some one who served and did return.

Either way I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time.

Best regards,






(1) & (2) Courtesy of  Jochen Lueg, The old Limavady Airfield in Aghanloo,
permission requested.
(3) Courtesy of DCN Properties & Mortages, permission requested.
(4) Courtesy of Jochen Lueg, A stroll through Limavady, permission requested.
(5) Courtesy of Second World War in Northern Ireland






4 responses to “005 Lest We Forget”

  1. Ailyn Avatar

    Hi Rod,
    As always a well written and moving story! I really enjoy how you incorporate images throughout the reading, it helps paint the picture and make you feel like you are there with the character. I love your style of writing, classic, simple, elegant but always with a twist a the end!
    When are you going to write a romantic piece?


  2. Rod Semple Avatar
    Rod Semple

    Hi Ailyn, A romantic piece. Um!
    That could be an interestinmg challenge.
    Thanks again for reading this piece and especially leaving a comment.

  3. Fred Avatar

    As I sit a few miles from Limavady Airdrome, as it was called, and not far from Ben Twitch, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece. So many in Limavady don’t realise the dangers of the beautiful Binevenagh to wartime pilots.

    I love the way you take historical events and bring them alive in your story. Very thought provoking. Would our young men be as brave today? Hopefully, we will never have to find out.

    It was great meeting up with you a few weeks ago . Keep on writing, brother and keep us entertained.

  4. Rod Semple Avatar
    Rod Semple

    Hi Fred. I’m so gratefut that I was born too late to serve and now I’m too old. I hope our young ones never have to find out either.
    Thanks for reading and appreciate your comment.
    Best regards,

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