Every time they took to the air during the Second World War, the aircrews of the Royal Air Force faced the possibility that they might not return and, perhaps unsurprisingly, they earned a reputation for 'letting off steam' in their off-duty hours.
When enjoying a get-togeher in the mess or a local pub, one of their favourite ways to unwind was a sing-song around the piano. Many World War II airmen had a 'party piece' with which to entertain their comrades and would take it in turns to lead the singing. Inevitably, as the alcohol took its toll, the repertoire would become progressively more risque. Favourites included lewd adaptations of well-known traditional or popular songs, pornographic parodies of famous poems and special RAF verses appended to military singalongs such as 'The Quartermaster's Stores'.
Former World War Two pilot and flying instructor Harold Bennett sent out a request to fellow members of the Aircrew Association asking them to trawl their collective memory for all the examples of RAF-related bawdy ballads and dirty ditties they could recall. The response was overwhelming and Harold then set about the task of compiling the wealth of material they had sent him. The result is this splendid collection, which preserves over 300 of the wartime RAF's favourite bawdy ballads and dirty ditties for posterity.