Arthur Gould Lee
in his book "No Parachute" wrote (in a letter home to his wife) of singing this song at 46 Squadron party held in June 1917 for some members of the squadron who were going home:
"The R.F.C regulars included a very old one that we used to bawl at guest nights at
Portmeadow to the tune of "The Tarpaulin Jacket", and gaily called "The Dying Airman".
The Young Aviator lay dying
And as in the wreckage he lay,
To his comrades all gathered around him,
These last parting words he did say
Take the cylinder out of my kidneys,
The connecting rod out of my brain, may brain.
From the small of my back take the crankshaft,
And assemble the engine again.
It goes on like this for a dozen verses, all somewhat lugubrious, and for some
unknown reason the chaps enjoyed singing it."
There are several songs and verses quoted in "No Parachute" that might be of interest.
I've seen a version reproduced somewhere else where a crankshaft or camshaft arrives a bit lower. Can imagine the lyrics being sung in different ways to suit the occasion.
Does anyone know anything of the reference to "twice Iota"? Is it gibberish or an actual term that might have been used in flight training, such as in classroom instruction in those days?