“On the sea of turmoil some hang on to life stubbornly and live on.”(Stubborn millennial’s lesson.)The day of the week was Friday,October 4, 1940. HMS Rainbow was a Rainbow-class submarine built for the Royal Navy during the 1930s.The boats were armed with six 21-inch torpedo tubes in the bow and two more in the stern. They carried six reload torpedoes for a grand total of fourteen torpedoes. Rainbow served in the Far East until 1940. She left for a patrol off Calabria on 23 September 1940 and was due to be back in Alexandria on 16 October, she was last heard from on 25 September. She is believed to have been sunk on 4 October in a collision with the Italian merchant ship, Antonietta Costa, which reported striking an underwater object at 03:30, followed by a huge underwater explosion on that date. (I quote this part of the history because it is sad and seems that the British and Allies have lost ground to the enemy forces.)
But all is not lost for the good guys as evidenced by history. The Battle of Britain was a stubborn battle involving major air campaign fought over southern England in the summer and autumn of 1940, between July and October 1940. The Germans began by attacking coastal targets and British shipping operating in the English Channel. They launched their main offensive on 13 August. Attacks moved inland, concentrating on airfields and communications centres. Nearly 3,000 men of the RAF took part in the Battle of Britain. While most of the pilots were British, men came from all over the Commonwealth and occupied Europe – from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Belgium, France, Poland and Czechoslovakia. There were even some pilots from the neutral United States and Ireland. Many people worked to defend Britain. Ground crew – including riggers, fitters, armourers, and repair and maintenance engineers – looked after the aircraft. Factory workers helped keep aircraft production up. The Observer Corps tracked incoming raids – its tens of thousands of volunteers ensured that the 1,000 observation posts were continuously manned. Anti-aircraft gunners, searchlight operators and barrage balloon crews all played vital roles in Britain’s defense. Anew danger had arisen. From the start of the war German submarines and surface craft, defying the convention which prohibited undeclared minefields dangerous to peaceful shipping, began to lay mines in British coastal waters. In September and October (1939 or 1940?) 59,027 tons of shipping were sunk by mines off the East Coast, in the Thames Estuary and elsewhere.
Well, I just think I might as well quote the above from horrible history in my mind data base so that other millennial nerds know what I am talking about. Crossing the channel in October 1940 is as easy as a nightmare. Mines underwater. Enemies’ planes overhead. The Christian Tandoori chef and his daughter are stubborn people. The man says, “We must cross tonight. We shall make it home alive!” The daughter nods her head and says, “Amen!” What option does a nerd from the future have against such stubborn and determined mind-set? NONE. So I nod my head and say, “Amen!”
My robot and mobile/cell phone remain quiet and still. They seem to be hibernating and I cannot get any signal at all. I am stuck in this 1940 horrible history whether I like it or not. But I can assure you it is very exciting and meaningful. It is far more interesting than playing the drone, the robot, and the Pokemon Go. The night becomes the most memorable night of my life.
As you can read from the picture I have included “close to death, six exhausted, freezing airmen are plucked to safety after surviving 11 days in a dinghy using their pants for a fishing net and their shirts as a sail.” “One can’t even begin to imagine the feeling of hopelessness and despair the men felt as day after day went by.” “Although they kept up morale by praying twice a day, two men became delirious.” This is real life. A stubborn struggle to hang on to life and hope, in the Atlantic 400 miles south west of Ireland. With limited supplies and no way to send an SOS, what followed was a desperate attempt to keep the crew alive. During the 11-day ordeal the men were capsized by huge waves, kept awake by freezing spray and had to bale out using their boots. They sucked rain-soaked handkerchiefs for water and tried to land fish in a pair of pants on a pole. But their only catch was foul-tasting jellyfish. After waiting close to the crash site for a week in the hope a search party would spot them, the survivors made a sail from two shirts to blow them towards safety. The dinghy’s speed picked up to two knots and after four days they were spotted by a British destroyer.*
What happens to our own tiny fishing boat and this fateful night? All I can write down is our captain is a brave man and he does not give up. He braves the dark night, the treacherous english channel waters, the threatening bombers, the deadly mines, and the worst of all, the fear of imminent death. It has taken him the whole night to battle the sea and its danger.
As we near the English side and see dawn, a German bomber appears overhead and we know all hopes are gone. The man and his daughter continue defiantly looking up and praying. Suddenly we hear another kind of engine. No, they are not engine sound. They are sounds from seven giant gulls. The winged giants fly powerfully and fearlessly towards the bomber head-on! The sight in the grey dawn is spectacular. The gulls look transparent and blend with a small round patch of blue sky that it brings with it but we can clearly see their outlines. They fly like they are the RAFs or even better. But they are not cold machines or hardwares. They are live birds. They are invincible. The bomber spots the giant birds and tries to fire at them in vain. The bomber panics and turns tail but it is too late. The birds encircle the bomber and capture it with their gigantic wings, forcing it to lose its engine power and plunge perpendicularly into the channel with an underwater explosion and sinks into its watery grave.
What do we do on the little French Brittany fishing boat? We give a standing ovation to the birds (or angels?). They fly over us and escort us until we reach British shore. It shows that it is good to be stubborn at the right time for the right goal after all. (To be continued)
(*The story about the six airmen surviving miraculously on a lifeboat is quoted from http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/amazing-story-downed-world-war-7579828)
“On the sea of turmoil some hang on to life stubbornly and live on.” (Stubborn millennial’s lesson.)