About February 24, 1943, returning at night from a mission to Palermo, Norm Appold experienced a similar problem. (getting lost in the desert terrain) They could not find the forward base. They were almost out of gas. Norman finally flew very low over the desert, turned on his landing lights, and found a stretch of desert that looked smooth enough to land on. He flew in a big circle with his wheels down until he came to the smooth stretch of desert again and landed without mishap.
The next morning they saw some British Spitfires (it might have been American B-25's) taking off in the distance. They boarded their B-24 and taxied several miles to the friendly base. They borrowed some gas and flew to the airstrip they were trying to find the night before.