Category Archives: 408 Squadron Memories

Marcus R. Humphrey

Marcus R. Humphrey, 89-1/2, of Gettysburg, passed away at Gettysburg Hospital on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013.Marcus R. Humphrey Marcus R. Humphrey

Mr. Humphrey was born in 1923 in Omaha, Neb., son of the late Marcus R. Humphrey Sr. and Mabel Frappia Humphrey.

He graduated from Pawnee City High School in Pawnee City, Neb., in 1941. In the summer of 1941, he hitch-hiked to Canada to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was sent to England and served in the Royal Air Force 408 Squadron as a pilot of a Lancaster bomber. He flew 30 missions, with 11 of those over Berlin. He was awarded the British Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1943, he was transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he flew in the Pacific Theater as a pilot of a B29.

After the war, he attended Kansas State University, graduating in 1955 with a degree in veterinarian medicine. From 1955 to 1961, he was in a veterinarian practice with his father-in-law in Wisner, Neb.

He joined the federal government in 1961 and after attending graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he went to work for the Meat and Poultry Inspection Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. He retired in 1981 and he and his wife moved to Gettysburg in 1988.

He was active in the Gettysburg Rotary and on the Adams County Library Board. When he arrived in Gettysburg, the Library was preparing to renovate the old U.S. Post Office building in downtown Gettysburg to become the Main Branch of the library system. Mr. Humphrey volunteered to help oversee the renovation and when it was completed, he continued to volunteer with the ongoing maintenance of the building. In 2009, he was awarded the Roulette-Watson Library Excellence Award for his work toward the expansion of library service in Adams County. For many years, Mr. Humphrey also volunteered at the former Eisenhower Elementary School reading once a week in a first grade classroom. Mr. Humphrey was a 60-year member of the Masonic Lodge.

Mr. Humphrey was an avid bicyclist and participated in the annual Des Moines Register Bicycle Ride Across Iowa for 12 years. He also rode his bicycle across Nebraska retracing a historic Army ride which took place in the 1890s.

Mr. Humphrey is survived by his wife of 63 years, Marylin D. Humphrey; a daughter, Patty Henry and husband Mike of Leesburg, Va.; a granddaughter, Libby Henry; a grandson, Will Henry; a brother, George E. Humphrey and wife Mary of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; a sister-in-law, Carol Popken and husband Ken of Des Moines, Iowa; a brother-in-law, Dean Price and wife Donna of Billings, Mont.; and three nieces and four nephews.

A memorial service will be held at Gettysburg United Methodist Church, 30 W. High St., Gettysburg, at 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 19, with Pastor Jay Zimmerman officiating. A private family interment is planned.

Memorials may be sent to the Adams County Library System: Marcus Humphrey Named Endowment Fund, 140 Baltimore St., Gettysburg, PA 17325.

In Remembrance of 408 Squadron Members

In Remembrance of 408 Squadron Members


When the geese come back in the Spring
And they learn that their friend has gone,
I wonder will they take to wing
And try to follow him on?

When they look for their friend again
As they’ve done in the years before,
Will they stay with us who remain
Or seek him the wide world o’er?

They loved him, the young and the old,
Wild geese and the whistling swan!
What then, when the flocks are told
The man who was kind is gone?

There were hunters wherever they flew,
And snares for the careless wing.
Now, they’ll grieve for the friend they knew
When the birds come back in the Spring.

Edgar A. Guest.

408’s Proud Banner

408’s Proud Banner

Long may 408’s proud banner wave,

      The banner that flew o’er the braveAs they flew in the dark of night

 To keep the torch of freedom burning bright.

Our bombers helped to vanquish those

Who sought their jackboot to impose

 Upon those fine, free men in many lands, 

Who looked to us with pleading hands,

To help them in their hour of need

 And see that they, again, were freed.

Nine hundred men have paid the price,

Nine hundred more would do it twice.

No price for liberty can be too high

Give me liberty or make me die.

The 408 Squadron Groundcrew

The 408 Squadron Groundcrew

Again the evening dusk doth deepen into dark,
As the weary ground crew leave the aircraft, in its dispersal park,
They’ve labored here since the early light of dawn,
And soon the laden aircraft, once more, into the night is gone.

They’ve labored here, day long, to patch each wounded plane,
That returned to base in early morn; so it may fly again
This night, and carry forth its dreaded load of fearful death,
Perhaps, to be delivered with the aircrew men’s last breath.

These ground crew whose devotion to their plane does surely show; Do labor here each day, in rain or shine, in sleet, in hail or snow;
They’ve seen so many of the air crews as at night they do depart,
And in the morn they find a bleak dispersal, theirs, with a tearful, aching heart.

Betimes they see a young wife, now in her widow’s weeds;
Such a sorry payment for her husband’s gallant deeds,
The war had called him forth, and to this place he’d bravely come;
One of the very many, who, to the German fury did succumb.

There were so very many, year over year, each name on name,
Who had helped to build this squadron’s fearsome fame,
To tell of the tons delivered, of the many targets struck,
And of death, sometimes avoided, by a great, good stroke of luck

And how these good, ground crew men would revel in the knowing,
That the aircrew’s tour was over and now they are homeward going,
No one did count the endless, devoted hours these good ground crew did give
To ensure each plane was perfect so that the aircrew might just live.

So these fine ground crew worked each day of every season,
Proud unsung heroes that they were, and proud with much good reason,
They did a splendid job, with peerless work in every situation,
Stand tall, good men, and take the thanks of aircrew and your nation.

But most of ,all, while you stand tall, the air crews get the glory,
For they are in the sky while bullets fly, and so the end of story,
But they do know, as you do know, for even the best aircrew,
Without your skills, devotion too, no aircraft ever flew.

Wally Kasper


Requiem for a 408 Squadron Airman

Requiem for a 408 Squadron Airman


The nation sends its sons once more
To fight for freedom on a foreign shore,
They fly into the dark night sky
To bomb their target, and, perhaps, to die
These airman had no time to see
The graves of their paternity,
In Flanders fields, or otherwise,
Before they died in the dark night skies.

The briefing’s done its time to go,
We’re off to Essen to see the show,
And take a load of a nasty surprise,
To drop it out of the dark night skies.

Round and round the fighters go
Searching for the Lancs below.

Runways behind us in the evening light,
The Dutch coast ahead, but out of sight,
To get to our maximum height we try
Before we enter the dark night sky.

Round and round the searchlights ply
Seeking victims, in the dark night sky.

A change of course and we’re running down
To Happy Valley and old Essen town,
Where the fighters, flak and searchlights rise
To welcome us in the dark night skies.

Round and round the flak does fly
Seeking to kill in the dark night sky.

 The target’s marked, bomb run to go,
Bombers silhouetted by the lights below,
We’re sitting ducks for a fighter’s sharp eyes,
He’ll! bring us death in the dark night skies.