The website for Dr Martin Shaw OBE FRCM (1875 –1958)

"...and the ash-blonde Waaf is waiting tea."

words from Jack Overdue

Double image of a young Waaf sergeant with fair wavy hair and the first page of a letter


2: Jack Overdue

Recording Artists: Iain Burnside & Sophie Bevan

As if in answer to The Airmen who are out on a mission, Jack Overdue is about the anxiety of those who wait for the return of the last airman ...out in the killer sea.

There may have been a personal reason for Shaw to set this particular poem to music, as his daughter Mary Elizabeth was a member of the WAAF.

As ACW/2 Shaw, M. (see her letter above) she worked in radar stations around the country, tracking and plotting the position of pilots who were flying out on missions against the enemy. If a pilot was shot down at sea, her work enabled a rescue mission to be launched by giving the last known co-ordinates.


John Pudney

portrait of John Pudney

In peace time John Pudney (left) was a prolific editor and writer. His writing career began in 1933 and went on until his death in 1977, with some work published posthumously.

In 1940, he was commissioned into the Royal Air Force as an intelligence officer. However, this did not stop his output as he continued writing throughout the war. Six of his twelve titles published between 1940 and 1945 were poetry.

From family correspondence it does not seem as if John Pudney ever met Shaw’s daughter.



Flight Lieutenant John Pudney (1909 - 1977) from Dispersal and Other Air Poems published by J. Lane 1942 Cramer 1942 Cramer Music provide archive copies priced £6.00. Contact: