In January of 1944, a Lancaster bomber carrying seven men went down in the “black, merciless North Sea” about 70 miles off the coast of Britain.
The plane, returning from a raid on Berlin, had run “into a bad flak area…their aircraft being repeatedly hit and the navigation instruments damaged.” (Flak refers to fire from an anti-aircraft gun.)
The men — representing England, Ireland, Canada and Australia — managed to salvage the plane’s emergency lifeboat, but even that was damaged:
The rubber dinghy began filling with water through the flak punctures, so the castaways took turns plunging their arms into the freezing water and sealing the holes with their fingers. Spray soon sopped their clothing, through which an icy wind cut like knives.
The men were adrift for 15 hours before being rescued.
Soon after, “one of them, a Londoner, discovered that his wife had given birth to a daughter about the same time that they were bombing Berlin, upon which they named the child Berlinda.”
Source: “Rescued from North Sea.” Advertiser [Adelaide, South Australia] 3 Feb. 1944: 6.
Image by RAF from Wikipedia