Jim Penny miraculously survived the destruction of his Lancaster over Berlin, only to suffer the horrors of a friendly fire attack while a prisoner of war. In a new book, John Nichol profiles the pilot and hears his firsthand account of the ordeal.

Luck finally ran out for Jim Penny and his crew aboard Avro Lancaster III JB218/OF-Y of the Pathfinder 97 Squadron on November 23, 1943. It was Jim’s 18th op and he was leading a crew to bomb the most dreaded target of all: Berlin.

While flying straight and level on their marker-dropping run, a large calibre flak round hit them in the open bomb bay and their aircraft’s payload was about to explode. “I wasn’t afraid,” Jim later recounted. “I felt perfectly calm in the realisation that I was going to die. My thoughts were for my crew.

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