Comin' in on
A Wing and a Prayer

To: lolitalark@yahoo.com

Re: loved your site

Looking for information:

When I was a kid, I saw a movie (I think) that had "wing and a prayer" and an aircraft coming in all busted up. That movie influenced me to become a tail gunner on a B-29 bomber.

That was in 1951 when I became old enough. I think the movie had "wing and a prayer" in it but not so sure. I did love to fly and did see many war movies.

Do you know of a movie that either showed a B-17 or a B-29 in and the song played was "wing and a prayer."

I know that there is a movie called "a wing and a prayer" but it is about an aircraft carrier, which I saw recently.

--- Bill
Bbwargo@ wmconnect.com
Hi, Bill:

When I was a little newt, during WWII, there were a spate of songs that joined the spiritual and the martial.

The favorite of them all was "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition," which included the lyrics (I now recite to you from memory, as it had been hard-wired into my little ten-year-old cerebellum):

    Oh the co-pilot said it,
    And you gotta give him credit,
    For a son of a gun of a gunner was he,
    [Singing] Praise the Lord
    And pass the ammunition
    And we'll all stay free.

The song you asked about came out about the same time, and I remember it well, with war-born fervor. Google tells us that it was composed by Harold Adamson and Jimmie McHugh. I include two stanzas below along with the chorus which, along with "Wing and a Prayer," is also forever implanted in my brain:

    One of our planes was missing
    Two hours overdue
    One of our planes was missing
    With all its gallant crew
    The radio sets were humming
    We waited for a word
    Then a noise broke
    Through the humming and this is what we heard

    Comin' in on a wing and a prayer
    Comin' in on a wing and a prayer
    Though there's one motor gone
    We can still carry on
    Comin' in on a wing and a prayer

    What a show, what a fight, boys
    We really hit our target for tonight
    How we sing as we limp through the air
    Look below, there's our field over there
    With just one motor gone
    We can still carry on
    Comin' in on a wing and a prayer

Since these songs were composed early on in the war, the airplane in question would have to be a B-17, since the B-29 --- with all its manifest errors and failings --- was not put into production until late 1943 or early 1944.

--- Ed


Dear RALPH:

--- Pete Blind