LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — Imagine surviving the winter for five months in a place where the wind can cut your eyes out. That’s what five men had to do in Greenland in November 1942, as detailed in the book Frozen In Time by Mitchell Zuckoff.
“The story that I tell really begins on Nov. 5, 1942, when a transport plane with five men aboard goes down on the coast of Greenland in a crash,” Zuckoff told WNEW’s Judlyne Lilly. “Incredibly, the five men survived, but their radio calls go unanswered because nobody could find them.”
Zuckoff said the U.S. was trying to get war planes over to Europe for the World War II effort along what it called the Snowball Route.
“It was kind of a hopscotch route where planes would fly from … Chicago to Nova Scotia, up to Greenland, up to Iceland, and then to England,” Zuckoff said. “We built these secret bases on the coastline of Greenland as stopping points. It became kind of the Main Street of this Snowball Route.”
The first plane that went down, Zuckoff said, was a transport plane carrying mail and other routine things. A bomber, which was headed to Germany for the war, went in search of the downed plane. It was able to get a few men out but it, too, crashed on a return trip, leaving the rest of the survivors to endure the deadly winter, Zuckoff said.
“Some of these guys had to wait as long as five months over the arctic winter living in the tail section of a B-17, or in ice caves to be rescued,” Zuckoff said.
The men waited as long as 148 days for rescue to come, and not everyone who survived the crash made it through the harsh winter.