London, Aug 31 (ANI): British Air Force pilots shot down over the English Channel during the Battle of Britain had to rely on German search and rescue services to save them from being drowned, according to a new research.
The problem became so severe that British aircraft were ordered to try to avoid travelling over the sea because too many being drowned, The Telegraph quoted the research, as saying.
Amid the 70th anniversary commemorations this summer it can be disclosed that at least 200 pilots died "needlessly" in 1940 after bailing out over water.
The discovery came to light as a result of research into a new account of the battle by the military historian, Dr Richard North, The Telegraph reports.
Once they hit the water there was very little chance of survival with only the occasional flier being picked up by a passing destroyer or fishing boat.
"This was one of the most shameful and disgraceful episodes of the entire war. For an RAF airman to be shot down over the sea was an almost certain death sentence if the German rescue services were not close at hand," said Dr North, author of 'The Many' to be published next year.
"Many a good fighter pilot was lost who would have been invaluable in the days that followed," he added.
An estimated 80 per cent of downed pilots died over the sea whereas the rate dropped to 50 per cent over land The Telegraph reports. (ANI)