Sometimes there is excitement even when the mission has to abort because of weather. Lt. John Wilcox had a little on a mission to Tunis, November 15, 1942. The mission was aborted west of Benghazi when a heavy weather front was encountered. The leader of the flight and all the other B-24's, except John's plane, jettisoned their bombs after turning back.
On the flight out, Wilcox and his crew saw a large German marshalling yard on the Benghazi - Tripoli highway, Rommel's escape route. The return route was over the same path. When they were near the marshalling yard, John eased his B-24 out of the formation, gained a little altitude, and when in range of the yard, made a successful bombing run scoring some direct hits.
Almost immediately after the bomb drop, John's plane was attacked by five ME 109's. They were flying at less than 10,000 feet altitude. They shot out the tail turret, immobilized the top turret, shot out the #3 and #4 engines and hit the controls of the #2 engine freezing the control at cruising r.p.m. The #1 engine was not hit and could reach full power. Some of the ME 109's bullets shattered the windshield of the plane, skimming the top of the head of the co-pilot, Lt. Foster.
John regained his place in the formation. The altitude he had gained before the bomb drop made it possible. Somehow John managed to hold formation until the ME 109's broke off the attack for lack of fuel. It was also getting late.
John's ability to hold formation was due to the excessive demand for power he made on the #1 engine. The engine temperature was dangerously high and now had to be throttled back. With loss of power and night coming on, a decision was made to belly land the plane in the desert while they could still see what they were doing. This was somewhere south of Tobruk. Although the desert air was quite cold, they managed to stay warm by burning engine oil.
The following morning an RAF Dakota (DC-3), on its way to supply a hit and run Spitfire Squadron, spotted John's B-24. They landed nearby, collected the crew, completed its own mission, and deposited John and crew at their Suez Canal base that night.