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date: 15 April 2024

The Air Force 

  1. Per ardua ad astra.
    Through struggle to the stars.
    Anonymous: motto of the Mulvany family, quoted by Rider Haggard in The People of the Mist (1894) ch. 1; still in use as motto of the R.A.F., having been proposed by J. S. Yule in 1912 and approved by King George V in 1913
  2. The bomber will always get through. The only defence is in offence, which means that you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves.
    Stanley Baldwin 1867–1947 British Conservative statesman, Prime Minister 1923–4, 1924–9, 1935–7: speech in the House of Commons, 10 November 1932
  3. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
    on the skill and courage of British airmen in the Battle of Britain
    Winston Churchill 1874–1965 British Conservative statesman, Prime Minister 1940–5, 1951–5: speech in the House of Commons, 20 August 1940
  4. In bombers named for girls, we burned
    The cities we had learned about in school—
    Till our lives wore out; our bodies lay among
    The people we had killed and never seen.
    When we lasted long enough they gave us medals;
    When we died they said, ‘Our casualties were low.’
     
    Randall Jarrell 1914–65 American poet: ‘Losses’ (1963)
  5. Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.
     
    John Gillespie Magee 1922–41 American airman, member of the Royal Canadian Airforce: ‘High Flight’ (1943); see Reagan
  6. 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.
     
    John Gillespie Magee 1922–41 American airman, member of the Royal Canadian Airforce: ‘High Flight’ (1943); see Reagan
  7. When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.
    Leonard Matlovich d. 1988 American Air Force Sergeant: attributed
  8. Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
    Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
    A lonely impulse of delight
    Drove to this tumult in the clouds.
     
    W. B. Yeats 1865–1939 Irish poet: ‘An Irish Airman Foresees his Death’ (1919)