It is not often that I get commissioned to write a song, but this is exactly what this song is. It tells the story of a particular bomber crew on a fateful day in February over the skies of Teruel (Spain) during the Spanish Civil War.
I am to sing this song at the re-dedication of a memorial to these airmen that was destroyed in 1938 by the Fascists when they took over control of the area.
Incredible that it has taken 40 years of so-called democracy in Spain to get around to this re-dedication.
Last Flight of Surhin's Katyusha (a Homage to Soviet Airmen)
Our orders came in December: volunteered to fight in Spain.
Flying Tupolev SBs - an advanced Soviet Plane.
Our Spanish comrades welcomed us with a warm embrace,
But times were obviously desperate, I read in the commander's face.
Our job was to bomb the Fascist lines on the front near Teruel.
For Spain it was a bitter winter, for men in trenches a frozen hell.
Our fighter escorts were Ishaks that could buzz around like flies,
But there were seldom enough of them to control the Republic's skies.
We'd flown on several missions, Latyshev, Gorelev and me
Seldom meeting resistance from 109s out on a spree.
But all that was to change, one dark February day.
When we ran into the Condor Legion who just happened to be in our way.
Their bombers turned around slowly, but their fighters streaked ahead.
We knew those Messerschmitt pilots aimed to see us dead.
Our escorts fought so valiantly, outnumbered one to five.
It would take nothing short of a miracle to get out of there alive.
We were taking heavy losses, several crews went down in flames.
Men I'd broken bread with and comrades I could not name.
Gorelev did his best to defend us, his machine gun rattled his ire.
But they holed our fuel system: we were dealing with a fire.
We were losing height when we bailed out, I was blistered from the heat.
As we parachuted to safety, my heart skipped a beat.
A Nazi plane was firing at men helpless in the sky.
An act which decent pilots worldwide would all decry.
Lucky for me, I'd free falled to get out of his field of view
But Latyshev was killed before the Nazi swine withdrew.
Gorelev had pulled his ripcord too near the plane, I know
His chute went up in flames and he plunged to the earth below.
So now I stand at the graveside of my comrades brave and true
And that of another airman, shot in his parachute too.
That single act of evil showed our side were in the right.
We fought against the darkness. They to extinguish freedom's light.
D (7750) F (10 10 80) E (9970)
D G (0550) F (0330) E (0220) x2
D Bb (3310) C (5530)