Fiction logo


For The Arid Challenge - Historical Fiction

By Babs IversonPublished 27 days ago Updated 25 days ago 5 min read
Top Story - November 2023
Pexels by Ruyan Ayten


Twenty-five B24 Liberator Bombers flew from Soluch Field in Libya, Africa. The target was Naples, Italy. Blinding sandstorms caused most of the bombers to return to the base. A few planes continued on. In the night sky, we became the lone B24 bomber.

As the four engines roared through the night, my thoughts drifted back to my first tour with the Canadian Air Force. Earning an officer's commission, I transferred to the US Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant.

On my second tour, this time in Africa.

Recalling our arrival in Lybia on the 27th of March. Quickly, we made friends. Our new crew members hailed from various states. Before the war, another member of our crew lived on a farm in New York that was within fifty miles of my hometown in Massachusetts.

It was our first mission. The ominous sandstorm swirled its omen powers.

With our payload, the B24 proved difficult to control. The weather conditions didn't help. Yet, we were able to stay in fair to good spirits. Missing our first target, we managed to hit our second target in Naples. Italy. Adrenalin coursed through our veins. For a few minutes, we breathed easier.

Then, becoming lost on our return to base, caused concern, and morale waned.

Everyone referred to the B24 Liberator as the flying boxcar. Flying the B24 was exhausting and grueling. The 1st Lieutenant sat to my left. Darkness surrounded us. Inside the bomber, instead of a steady hum from the engines, there was an acoustic sound. The engines always sounded out of sync. Bouncing around like ragdolls, the damp chill pierced through our bones.

Unfortunately, the 4th of April was a moonless night. The Mediterranean Sea wasn't distinguishable. The sky was pitch-black. The smell of leaking aviation fuel and hydraulic fluid wafted through the plane. Always in the back of our minds, we worried about the plane catching fire.

Realizing that the navigation system wasn't operational, the pilot, Hatton, requested our radio man, LaMotte, to contact the base to inform them that we were flying blind. Shivering inside the cold B24, the radio man informed the base that the automatic direction finder wasn't working. Requesting a bearing to the base, they informed him that the plane was flying on the correct path.

Perhaps, we received inaccurate and inadequate information. LaMotte relayed that they would light fires around the landing strip. While the crew looked, no sign of the base could be seen. Nobody spotted fires signaling the location of the landing strip.

Before running out of fuel and crashing, Hatton along with the crew decided that we should jump out of the plane. With life jackets on, we prepared for water. We thought we were over the Mediterranean Sea. Naturally, amazed and shocked to find that we landed in the desert sands.

In the desert, there was nothing as far as our eyes could see. We survived. But, we landed in a hostile arid desert. When the winds blew, grains of sand shifted and moved blowing sand in our faces.

Each crew member set off flares, and eight of us rendezvoused together. Woravka was missing. Waiting for his signal, nothing went off in an hour's time. Before we started walking Northwest, we waited another hour.

Dividing our resources between the eight of us, we shared a pint of water. With a cap of water for each, we had very little rations. Day or nite, sleeping on the fine brown grains of sand was problematic and impossible. With the hot blazing sun beating down on the sand, each step was arduous.

Leaving boots and other articles along the way, we marked our path in hopes that it would help or lead to our being rescued.

During the day, the occasional breeze from the Northwest helped. The fine loose bottomless sand slowed us down to a steady turtle's pace. Heading Northwest, we struggled and continued walking.

When the hot sun goes down, the desert temperatures drop dramatically. At least, we could walk longer than fifteen minutes stretches before resting for a few. Rested but no one slept.

By Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

The fire-hot sand, the hot temperatures, and the fiery sun replaced our former concerns regarding the plane. During the blazing daylight hours, we burned in hell. Without a breeze, the noonday sun hung overhead. We waited until 5 P.M. to start walking again. Trudging through the deep fine sand, we walked and rested. We walked all nite.

When the sandstorm threatened to envelop us, we huddled together using a parachute to cover us and protect us from the stirring sandstorm. Once the storm was over, blue skies and brown sand stretched as far as our eyes could see.

With each passing day, we weakened. Watched for rescue planes. We walked when the sun went down. We prayed. No one slept, we were too sore from lying on the sand.

When we hit the dunes, the blowing sand blinded us. Our eyes took a beating, damaged by the wind, sun, and sand. We continued walking Northwest.

On the fifth day, while three continued on, together five stayed behind. My eyes are bad. Others' eyes are completely gone. I'm too weak to walk. We pray. No signs of help.

Continuing to pray, we spotted a bird. No plane or water in sight. Weaker, we remained hopeful.

If only, we had water. There was no water to wet our tongues. Praying for help, we are in pain. We can't walk or sleep.

Almost freezing, tired beyond belief. My feet are numb and so are my hands. Can hardly write, "Cold nite."

Drifting off to sleep, my thoughts meander back. To the nite, we jumped into a desert prison. Walking back to the plane, the radio could have saved us. It's late, there is only silence.

Engulfed in the desert's parched silence, I was nothing but another grain of sand in the wind.

By Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Author's notes: At age eleven, the mystery of The Lady Be Good intrigued me. Seeing Vocal's Arid Challenge, the lost bomber in the desert came to mind. The story is fictionalized and is voiced through Toner one of two airmen who keep a diary of their heroic efforts to survive eight days in the unsurvivable environment and a testament to their willpower and training.

Now, in 2023, this year marks the eightieth anniversary of the lost bomber and crew in the Lybian Desert.



About the Creator

Babs Iverson

Barbara J Iversen, also known as Babs Iverson, lives in Texas and loves her grandkids to the moon and back. After writing one story, she found that writing has many benefits especially during a pandemic and a Texas-size Arctic Blast.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  4. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

Add your insights

Comments (49)

Sign in to comment
  • Canuck Scriber17 days ago

    Excellent work!

  • Very well done Babs an amazing entry into this challenge

  • Heather Hubler23 days ago

    Really well done! Love that you brought this piece of history to life. I enjoyed the ride…flight? Congratulations on top story :)

  • C. H. Richard23 days ago

    Very engaging story. Leaves one with how desolate and desperate the airmen of this flight felt. Great references and congratulations on Top Story ❤️ 👏 ❤️

  • Lamar Wiggins23 days ago

    Wow! Not sure how I missed this one. Historical fiction looks good on you! You really did your homework. It was intense and tragic. Learning that it was inspired by true events, boosted the value for me. I used to watch the history channel quite a bit years ago. Not sure why I stopped. Thank you for enlightening us with your special challenge entry 💖.

  • Real Poetic23 days ago

    The references add a special bonus to such an intensifying story. You did a great job keeping us readers engaged. My heart hurts for the pilots stranded in desert. I can’t even stomach the reality of the situation. Well-done, congratulations, and best of luck in the challenge! Excellent Babs! 🩵

  • The historical facts and links here bring this to life. It’s a great story. The first person perspective is interesting. Very good work. Congratulations on TS. If you have a moment would you look at my arid entry.. Mojave Blues. 😎

  • Dana Crandell24 days ago

    Babs, this is awesome! Though fictionalized, it's probably very close to the truth of the tragedy. I love that you included so many great resource links, too. A wonderful challenge entry!

  • E. J. Strange24 days ago

    I love historical fiction and this was fantastic

  • Margaret Brennan24 days ago

    FABULOUS!! Before my retirement, I was an Electrical Assembly Inspector for a defense plant that built the radar for the B1B Bomber and the AWACS. My job was to inspect all the PC board from the bare board to the finality of it being put inside the casing to be inserted into the instrument panel on the plane. I often wondered what would have happened should one of the instruments fail. Thankfully, none did but it was always a worry for the inspectors.

  • Colt Henderson24 days ago

    This was beautifully written. Great job and good luck on the challenge.

  • Rachel Deeming24 days ago

    Babs, I think you captured the desperation of the airmen perfectly. I loved this line: "Bouncing around like ragdolls." Congrats on the TS!

  • J. S. Wade24 days ago

    Great story Babs. Apparently my previous comment didn’t send. Congrats on Top Story. Love your writing and especially the history that you hold dear. It shows in you le work. 🥰

  • Laura Lann24 days ago

    I love a good story that carries me anxiously along to a bleak ending!! 🙏🙏 This is one of my favorite pieces you've written. It is delightful, suspenseful and leaves the reader wondering

  • Wow, that was a lot better than I thought it would be 😉📝♥️✌️This could be a great movie 🎦 🎬🍿💯

  • Leslie Writes24 days ago

    This is so vivid and wonderfully written. Amazing that this is based on true events. What they must have went through…

  • Brenton F25 days ago

    A harrowing tale indeed. This could have been a chapter intro in Catch 22 if they were B25's! A very well written piece and a fitting tribute to the lost airmen.

  • Caroline Jane25 days ago

    This is quality! It appeals in so many ways. The detail, the provenance, the style, the phrasing, the truth of it. Cracking job Babs. 👏 👏👏

  • The Dani Writer25 days ago

    Congratulations on the top story Babs! It's difficult for me to read anything to do with war or military so sorry, I had to lightly skim. It looks like you've written literary fiction which is quite challenging and that publications swoon over. Did you know?

  • Moe Radosevich25 days ago

    That’s a great yet sad ending story, makes ya wonder about critical decisions that are made, I enjoyed this my friend, wish it could have ended differently 😊😊

  • Jay Kantor25 days ago

    Hi-'b' ~ Incredibly well told. We both like our 'Reach Backs' but I know the youngins have their own Schtick and I'm way out of the loop since I don't get into any of Mikey's challenges; I'm ok with that. And, yes, I'm responsible for your Rangers - Nah - that's just because they were filled with ex-Dodgers. btw; Odd to me how we won the wars but the Japanese and Germans won the car wars. Best to you, 'j'

  • Deasun T. Smyth25 days ago


  • KJ Aartila25 days ago

    A great twist and an interesting insight. Nice job!

  • You really hit the mark here with your descriptions and overall quality with tone and narrative!! Very well executed and naturalistic piece

  • Kristen Balyeat25 days ago

    Great story, Babs! This is a perfect take on the challenge. Very well done! Congrats on top story 💞💫

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.