A special fluid capable of extinguishing the most violent fire in a few moments is tested on Thursday, July 25, 1968, at the Monza racetrack. Two single-seater racing cars, with a mannequin of a driver in a suit and helmet inside, are doused with gasoline and then set on fire to simulate the various dangerous situations that can happen in a race. The fire, thanks to this liquid, is tamed in no more than five seconds and the pilot-mannequin is rescued with ease. The technicians in charge of carrying out the experiments state:
"With a product like that Bandini wouldn’t have died in Monte-Carlo".
The fluid, obtained by Montecatini Edison researchers at the Porto Marghera Technology Applications Laboratory, is called 114 B2. The key difference compared with the use of water (that has the duty of cooling what is burning), carbon dioxide (that takes away oxygen from the combustion) and foamers (that act as parting oxygen from other combustion substances), it’s the fact that 114 B2 acts chemically and not physically on combustion. The action of this product is defined as anti-catalytic, as opposed to that of so-called catalysts, used to encourage the chemical reaction. This anti-catalytic action completely blocks the combustion process, imprisoning carbon and hydrogen, major responsible for every fire. It only takes 2 kilograms of the formulation to extinguish in two or three seconds the flames in a 4-square-meter tub. The fluid, which is colourless, non-toxic and non-corrosive, has infinite possibilities of use, but its exceptional extinguishing speed makes it particularly suitable in racing car fires. The managers of the Monza Autodrome hypothesize the building along the trackside, 5750 meters long, of a duct with swelling nozzles, connected to a central tank to make the intervention on the burning cars super fast. The installation will cost between 40.000.000 and 50.000.000 lyre. In any case is being considered for the Italian Grand Prix scheduled for Sunday, September 8, 1968, to place on the track, at a short distance from one another, fire extinguishers with the new formulation. Ferrari driver Andrea de Adamich, who will soon return to racing after his accident at Brands Hatch in April, says:
"With this new system, the safety of us racers will remarkably increase. I think that it could be useful, especially placing on board the cars fire extinguishers with 114 B2 with the automatic operation: they would immediately smother the first flames".
A few days later, precisely Sunday, July 28th 1968, at Zandvoort, the weekend ends with yet another tragedy. Chris Lambert, a British racer driving the Brabham Cosworth Ford, that in the previous day’s competition had qualified for the last race thanks to a sixth-place finish, collides with the swiss Clay Regazzoni’s Tedino Cosworth Ford on the tenth lap of the last race of Formula 2; Lambert’s car which got out of the driver's control, goes off track and after a few spins flips over, crosses a metallic barrier and ends up on a dune. Lambert dies instantly of serious head injuries and broken cervical vertebras. The body was taken to Aerdenhout’s morgue, in Zandvoort. Regazzoni on the other hand, manages to maintain control of the car and keep it on track, emerging unharmed from the frightening accident. The winner of the race is the French Jean Pierre Beltoise driving a Matra, while the Scuderia Ferrari team mechanics remain disappointed, who in the first of the two elimination heats and during free practice had raised hopes that were not then materialized into facts. The rest of the standings saw Matra's number two Henri Pescarolo in second place, British Richard Atwood in third, followed by swiss Silvio Moser and french Eric Offenstadt, all in Techno Cosworth Fords. Lambert, who was only 24, started racing with go-karts, earning the title of British champion to soon level up to the formula 3 cars in 1965. The next year he only dedicated himself to racing cars, putting aside the chemistry degree he got at Birmingham’s university. In 1966 he won ten races and was awarded 500 pounds (750.000 lyres) as part of a programme to encourage young British drivers in their racing careers.
He was the third British driver who died on track in 1968: Jim Clark, world champion died Sunday, April 7th, 1968 in Germany, at the Hockenheim circuit; Mike Spence died during practice in Indianapolis, Tuesday, May 7th 1968. During the same weekend, in Tuscany, the Mugello Grand Prix is run on the street circuit, which sees the three drivers Nino Vaccarella, Luciano Bianchi and Nanni Galli winning after taking turns driving an Alfa Romeo number 33. The race ended in 4 hours 22'43"6/10 at an average of 120.946 km/h with effort; effort in the real meaning of the word considering that the 66 km of the circuit, 8 times repeated, are a combination of terrible turns, climbs and descents to which to add the intense heat of 40°C and the tarmac just renewed, covered by insidious gravel. The only real rivals of the number 33’s Alfa Romeo are the due formed by the Helvetian Jo Siffert, who had just won the British Grand Prix in the Formula 1 World Championship, and Rico Steinemann (journalist-driver) driving for the only Porsche starting the race, after the crashes of Vic Elford and Gerhard Koch’s cars. Siffert during the race faces impetuously the italian team, that can count on the crews Zeccoli-Pilette, Bianchi-Vaccarella, Biscaldi-Facetti, Casoni-Dini, Slotemaker-Trosch and Nanni-Giunti. The swiss driver keeps the lead of the race for the first three laps, also improving the fastest lap record to 31'21"4, averaging 126.670 km/h; he adds even more advantage on the other cars until he is one second ahead of Galli at the moment of the changeover with his teammate Steinemann. The latter, more skilled in the art of journalism than driving, loses in two laps all the advantage previously created by Siffert moving down to 2nd place.
Steinemann in the pits says to a pissed Siffert that he spun twice cracking a rim; Steinemann would like to give back the car to his teammate right after the first lap, who wasn’t ready, which is why he has to continue the race. However, Siffert, who then resumed driving the car, was unable to catch up with Bianchi-Vaccarella's Alfa on which Galli, who had been left without a car following Giunti's accident, had meanwhile climbed in. Three more drivers went off track other than Giunti: the florentine Spartaco Dini, the belgian Teddy Pilette and the milanese Giampiero Biscaldi. Biscaldi was the protagonist of a very surprising adventure: he flew into a field on the downhill of the yoke pass, the car flipped over repeatedly and the driver was stuck under the wreckage. Rescued by officers, he was transported by helicopter to the hospital in Borgo San Lorenzo, from which comforting news later arrived: only a few bruises and a slight state of shock. Even the german Ising Rainer near the finish line went off track, but for him only a few scratches. The florentine Franco Zanniratti has problems, Giogo climb for a breakdown, got out of his Mini and soon after the car is on fire: a lot of frightening but no real damage. In the various categories, the most important successes are by: Gigi Taramazzo in the Gran Turismo over 1600 cc, Toivonen for the Porsche Carrera 6 in the Sport (4th overall behind Spoerry). The turin’s Roberto Fusina and Enrico Re from Scuderia Torino Corse got a good class placing, while Bonomelli was stopped by a breakdown.
The first weekend of August opens with the eighth race of the Formula 1 World Championship at Nurburgring’s circuit, in the German’s Eifel mountains. Besides the arrival of the circus, the weekend is marked by severe weather, with fog and rain that’ll stay present for all three race days. The Formula 1 season of 1968 is now past the halfway point and everyone is ready for a titanic battle, not only against their rivals but against the Nurburgring’s 22.8 kilometres and against all the turns, steep slopes, climbs, bumps and fast and slow straights. In 1967 Jim Clark recorded a remarkable lap time of 8'04"1 during practice, while Gurney set a record during the race for a lap time of 8'15"1. In 1968, with all the innovations and design changes, it’s not about betting on who’ll be able to break the two records, but it’s about betting on how many drivers, with the Ferrari, Lotus, Brabham and Matra teams, strongly competing, will be able to do so. The first practice on Friday, August 2 1968, takes place from 12 am to 1:15 p.m., with low clouds classified as fog, and poor visibility for the drivers. Due to the extreme conditions of the circuit no one can finish a lap, with the drivers only going through the area adjacent to the pits, down to the South Curve, back behind the pits and through the gate before reaching the North Curve.Despite the continued worsening of conditions Is given the green light to run on the whole circuit and Hill, Surtees and Beltoise waste no time. Although practice continues for as long as planned can’t provide data or the possibility to the team to make progress due to the pouring rain that makes the track slippery and wet. Hulme and McLaren seem dejected in their McLaren team’s cars, although only that one carries the airfoil over the engine, and neither of the New Zealanders drivers records full-timed laps.
Hill on the Lotus 49B/5, equipped with massive driveshafts to remedy the breakage problems experienced in previous races, manages to run several full laps thanks to his car equipped with very wide front winglets and a top-mounted rear wing profile, but his teammate Oliver is forced to stay sit and watch waiting for his car to arrive at Nurburgring. Following the Brands-Hatch race, where the driver raced in 1967 with the Tipo 49, the car was completely rebuilt following the 1968 or 49B specifications, with front transverse arms angled forward, a Hewland gearbox replacing the ZF and the rear suspension placed on the gearbox instead of the engine. The monocoque cockpit structure is the original one from the 49/2 car, and everything else it’s new enough to the 49B/2. Modifications on the car were completed late to go on the big Gold Leaf Team Lotus transporter with Hill's car; the car only arrives at Nurburgring later on his trailer behind a little truck. Brabham and Rindt have their 4-cam Brabham with Repco engine, and in the paddock they’re delivering a new one, the BT26-3. Since it is so well equipped the Brabham team leaves their BT24-3 to the young german driver Kurt Ahrens, watched by the Caltex Racing Team. The Tyrell team, branch of Matra, has available the two french cars with Cosworth V8 engine and, as Stewart is not fully sure of the state of his damaged wrist, decided to bring along as reserve the young french driver Servoz-Gavin. The latter has already done over 1.000 kilometres of practice on the track with a Turismo car at the start of the week. Even Stewart, still managing to make a few laps of the pits, isn’t able to do full-timed laps. Surtees is one of the drivers who throws himself in the darkness of the circuit as soon as possible, driving the 1968 V12 Honda with his aerofoil replaced after his Brands-Hatch episode, and this time not firmly placed on the chassis, allowing for some flexibility like the Lotus system.
Ferrari comes up with a completely new car for Ickx, number 0015, with the 1968 specifications while Amon keeps the 0011 car. The 0009 winner of the French Grand Prix stays in the paddock as a reserve. Rodriguez and Attwood instead drive the stock B.R.M. 12 cylinders, still lacking aerodynamic assistance, which does not convince at all Bourne’s engineers. However, Parnell’s B.R.M V12, driven by Courage, it’s equipped with a well-designed aerofoil over the engine. This car also mounts the new alloy wheels used by official cars, while Attwood’s car is equipped with a new rear wheel design. The Matra team comes with two 12-cylinders to use for Beltoise: the prototype has a six-pipes exhaust system, while the most recent car has a short four-pipes system, in line with Ferrari’s ideas, B.R.M. and Eagle’s. Car number two has a rear aerofoil, directly placed on the chassis pivoted in order to change the incidence angle during gear. The movement is electrically executed by a solenoid and a lever system; the solenoid it’s powered by a circuit that is shut down by pressing the brake pedal. Beltoise is satisfied with completing full laps only with the prototype car. Gurney drives the 12-cylinders car he briefly tested at Brands-Hatch, with a halved aerofoil mounted again in a backward position. Siffert is behind the wheel of the Brands-Hatch’s winning Lotus 49B of Walker/Durlacher, which now has a little spoiler on the muzzle like the one used on the official cars, which blocks the airflow on the muzzle that creates lifts. From Munich comes the only official BMW’s car, driven by Hubert Hahne, with Lola’s chassis and powerful BMW’s engine with 2 litre radial valves, while Bianchi and Elford drive the two official Coopers, one with number one and the other with number four.
Still no signs of the long-awaited Alfa Romeo with the V8 engine, although the Italian 3 litre engine had given good results at the test bench, both in terms of power and reliability. Two absentees at this first practice, wet and foggy, are Bonnier and Moser: the first one withdraws his participation, and the second isn’t ready. Bonnier’s absence solves a very tricky problem: the Automobile Club of Germany accepts 22 entries but only allows 21 drivers to take the start, and thus stipulates that the outcast should be chosen from among Moser, Bonnier, Courage and Oliver. For principles, no one agrees to eliminate a car, so Bonnier’s withdrawal is well accepted. During lunch on Friday everyone thinks that conditions will tend to improve, but they are mistaken, because at 3:00 p.m., when the cars begin to prepare for the second practice, scheduled from 3:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., the clouds thicken on ground level and the rain resumes falling incessantly. In the afternoon Oliver's Lotus arrives, and Bianchi's Cooper-B.R.M. is fitted with a very substantial aerofoil over the engine; this car keeps the muzzle fairing completely closed, while Elford's has ducted openings on the top of the nose for radiator air to exit, a system introduced in 1968 by McLaren and followed by the B. R.M. The entire audience around the circuit remains silent, a large crowd of spectators sheltering under umbrellas, until finally the official announcement is made: the organization makes the decision to abandon the practice day because of impossible weather conditions. When the cars return to the paddock, without having driven even the section of the track adjacent to the pits, someone suggests that the drivers challenge the team managers to a soccer game on the starting field to give the public a form of entertainment, given the sizeable crowd present at the expense of the bad weather.
The entire day, which could have been excited in the dry, fades into a damp, cold and wet atmosphere, with the only comfort that rarely the weather in Eifel’s region stays constant for a long time, making people think of a rapid change in the next days. This proves to be true, but not in the way expected: on Saturday, in fact, instead of getting better the weather gets worse, and at 12.45 a.m., when the Grand Prix’s practice should have started, the visibility is almost zero and the managers are busy cancelling the supporting national races and sending competitors home. Halfway through the afternoon in a brief lift of the fog it gives hopes back and everyone is alerted to be ready in 30 minutes, but at the time of the go-ahead at 3:40 p.m. the fog comes back faster than before. Rainwater runs on the track in various places and the drivers are notified to go easy on the first lap. The session, wet and dome, continue a little more after 5:00 p.m., when everyone has already done some full-timed laps, except Moser; everyone improves the previous day’s times: Ickx and Courage demonstrate laps with a minute less than their Friday times, both driving in each session at the limit of conditions. The Brabham team manages to make the most of the delays to complete their third BT26 and Rindt manage to drive it for a short time to fix all the problems. Cooper mounts an aerofoil on his second car and Servoz-Gavin drives his Matra V12 number two, with Beltoise not being available at the start of practice. Stewart set the fastest lap of the afternoon in his Matra-Cosworth equipped with tubular struts for an aerofoil but without the wing itself, in a time of 10'00"4, a full two minutes slower than he would have done in the dry, which gives an idea of the conditions. Since the official practices are such a disaster, the AvD (Automobilclub von Deutschland) allows an additional practice time on Sunday morning before the race, with a guaranteed minimum of three hours between the end of the extra period and the start of the race.
But even on Sunday the weather is a disaster: fog and clouds stay at ground level and rain falls incessantly. Practice should have been run from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., but only at 10:25 a.m. someone have to take the go: it’s Beltoise the first one on track behind the wheel of his Matra V12 number two. Scuderia Ferrari renounces at taking part in the additional practice session, comprehending that there is no space for room of improvement and because they have already achieved first and second place on the grid as a result of Friday's practice. Team B.R.M also renounce, along with Courage, Siffert and the two Cooper’s drivers. McLaren and Hulme, not having done a serious lap before, register better timing as Beltoise, Hahne and Oliver. Stewart leaves everyone with their mouth wide open with a 9’54”2 lap, when just a few can get close to 10’30”0 and later completes a lap with his aerofoil placed above the engine acting very confident in himself. Brabham presents itself with a scary ticking inside the right intake galley box, indicative of a broken cam control or some other small but vital component of valve actuation. At the end of practice, with the rain that doesn’t look like it’s going to stop, Oliver goes off track with his Lotus on the downhill to Adenau, damaging the front and rear left suspension. When the car comes back in the paddock, Chapman and the Lotus’ engineers work really hard to replace the damaged parts, without having to worry about the geometric adjustments; it’s a real and true panic moment in which you have to be able to screw everything in time for the start. In Brabham’s garage similar intensive work is done to repair the damaged valve gear on the Repco engine. Even on Sunday, August 4th 1968, the weather doesn’t seem to be getting better, with the start initially delayed from 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and then 2:45 p.m.
The race start organization seems pretty chaotic: the cars initially placed on the grid need to be pushed back on the fake grid. Both Hulme and McLaren use aerofoil on their orange cars, while the official driver is on his car number one instead of the number three he drove at Brands-Hatch. Brabham and Rindt have available their cars number one and two, while the new car isn’t used; Stewart is one the second Tyrell Matra’s car, complete of aerofoil; Surtees is behind the wheel of the Honda’s V12, that it’s been a temporary car this season for so long that it became a permanent car. Amon with the 0011’s Ferrari and Ickx with the new 0015. Rodriguez drives the BRM 133-01, back to the old wheels type to mount the Goodyear tighter wheels for wet weather, while Attwood drives his 126-03. Beltoise drives the second Matra’s V12, still having the brake-actuated aileron, while Gurney, Hill, Siffert, Oliver and Ahrens can’t choose their cars, along with Bianchi, Elford and Courage, but the last three use new aileron tested during practice. The race is supposed to take place over a distance of 14 laps of the Nurburgring North Circuit, for a total distance of 319.690 kilometres, but at 2:45 p.m. the start is still postponed without further indication. The usual Nurburgring grid line-up of four-three-four-three on the grid is wisely changed to three-two-three-two in view of the rain and fog, and shortly after 3:50 p.m. the Cooper team men, at the back of the grid with Bianchi, tell him to start the engine, simultaneously signalling to Elford's mechanics in the second row to do the same. The mechanics are concerned about engine and tire temperatures, but when the two Cooper engines fire up everyone else acts accordingly, and the race officials, taken back, rush to prepare the three-minute board and the starting flag, without having made a final decision to start the race.
The twenty drivers, wet and unhappy, decide to start: all of them approach the starting grid but the stewards still make them wait three minutes before lowering the national flag. The overheating of the engine of Siffert's Lotus and Honda is very high at this point. With nearly 8,000 total horsepower available on the grid and pouring rain, the start is the moment of truth for the Grand Prix, and each of the twenty drivers gives evidence of excellence. They take off in a compact group, with spray flying in all directions, very poor visibility for those in the middle of the little train, and the utmost caution under acceleration to avoid excessive wheel spin or skidding. Thinking about the accidents due to driver errors in starts in other forms of racing, in perfect conditions and with underpowered cars, one realizes why Formula 1 drivers are at the top of the driving profession. The start of the 30th German Grand Prix is a superb display of skill. A few seconds' hesitations on the part of the two Ferraris allows Rindt to get an early start, but Hill releases the clutch superbly and takes off from the second row to lead the pack on the opening lap. With the incessant rain, tire choice is simple, and everyone is more or less on the same level, but Stewart mounts a special set of Dunlop super-wet tires on his Matra. Hill remains at the head of the pack until the exit of the long Schwalbenschwanz curves, when the blue Matra-Cosworth overtakes him and disappears in a cloud of spray, building up a ten-second lead in the few miles after the end of the opening lap. In the same corners Elford loses control of his Cooper coming out of the uphill left-hand bend after the bridge and spins into the safety barrier, destroying the suspension on the right side of the car and damaging the chassis, being unharmed but unable to return to the pits until the end of the race.
Stewart's lead at the end of the opening lap causes an audible gasp under the mass of umbrellas in the public lawn areas. Hill, Amon, Rindt, Gurney, Ickx, and Surtees follow the leader, but the Honda heads into the pits with a faulty ignition system due to overheating at the start, torrential rain, or a combination of both. Courage leads Brabham, followed by Hulme, Siffert, Rodriguez, Beltoise, Ahrens, Oliver, Bianchi, McLaren, Hahne and Attwood. Stewart's lap was done in 10'14"8, a very impressive time considering the conditions, but the young Scot still had much to offer. By the end of the second lap Stewart has over 30 seconds on Hill's Lotus. The Scottish driver looks splendidly confident, while Amon stands out and clings to the Lotus, finding himself right in the splash of the latter as he passes the pits. In previous wet races, Amon thought he was the only one who was unhappy with the driving conditions, not realizing that all the other drivers also hated the rain. Rindt, Gurney, and Ickx are within striking distance of each other, and after a long gap, Brabham passes ahead of Courage and Hulme, with Siffert behind them, whose Cosworth engine is showing faults. Long after everyone has passed, Surtees in the wretched 12-cylinder Honda returns to the pits for another check of the ignition system. During lap 3 Ickx overtakes Gurney at the Flugplatz zone, placing himself on 5th position, but trying to keep up the pace the American driver touches a little too close to the right curbside on the Hohe Acht’s climb and pierces the right front wheel on a sharp rock. While the others are racing under the rain, clouds and fog, Gurney struggles with a flat tire: go to the pits in 12th position for a change and when he comes back on track he finds himself at the back of the grid. During the same lap Hulme goes up of one position, but he is only 7th with no hope of appearing among the leaders, while McLaren finds himself in second-to-last position.
Stewart’s pace is so phenomenal that makes the other driver’s pace look pathetical, but with the given conditions every criticism to whoever is driving on track seems too harsh. At the end of the 4th lap Stewart has a gap of 59 seconds on Hill’s Lotus. The rest of the drivers stay a lot behind and Siffert goes to the pits to see if the malfunctioning engine could be fixed, while Gurney runs well, although he is second to last, ahead of Attwood. In the next lap the situation between the leaders doesn’t change, but at the back of the lineup Hahne, in the 2-litre BMW, passes Ahrens in the Repco-powered 3-liter Brabham, and Gurney passes Bruce McLaren's McLaren. Siffert re-enters the race, a lap late and without having been able to solve the ignition problem, but gives up after six laps, attributing the problem to overheating he had on the start line. On the same lap Bianchi pits with gasoline from a tank leaking into the cockpit, and as a result is forced to retire. Before Amon and Hill can be heard approaching the start/finish area, Stewart has already covered lap six in 9'41"3 and has managed the track conditions to the best of his ability. During this lap Ickx spun at the North Curve, restarted and spun again at the next corner, pulling away from Rindt's tail but without losing fifth place. However, his visor becomes smeared with mud, preventing a clear view and forcing him to make a pit stop at the end of the seventh lap. The rider handed the now unusable visor to his team and while waiting for it to be cleaned returned to the track. At the back of the field Hulme vainly tries to challenge Brabham. Rodriguez passes Beltoise and is about to pass Courage, while Gurney points Oliver to twelfth place, with sixteen cars still running. Surtees makes one more unsuccessful lap and then gives up; the Honda again proves to be unreliable and difficult to drive.
During the 8th lap Stewart sets the new fastest lap, running in 9’36”0, an excellent time if you consider the climate conditions. At the end of lap 9 the Matra swerves in the woods at Hatzenbach right before the Lotus, second in the standings, could get close to pits. Ickx boxes again to take and wear the new clean visor after driving with no eyes protection for a short time. The final standing is Stewart, Hill, Amon, Rindt, Ickx, Brabham, Hulme, Rodriguez, Courage, Hahne, Gurney, Oliver, Ahrens, McLaren and Attwood, lapped bu the leader. The Eagle and Ahren’s Brabham suffer water in the electric system. In this lap is missing Beltoise, the V12 Matra’s swerved off track on the slippery section near Hohe Acht. During the 10th lap Stewart overtakes the McLaren and Rodriguez rapidly gains time on Hulme, even if the world champion isn’t aware of that and can’t see anything in the mirrors, stained with water. At the end of lap 11 Stewart confident as always gets close to lap Ahrens, while the rain falls harder than ever. Amon almost flanks Hill and it seems like the new Zealander it’s about to take second place, getting over the difficulties with driving wet. But in the last kilometres the Ferrari acts irregularly, probably due to some malfunctioning on the differential, and at the South turn, has a stall moment , losing track on Hill. At the North turn the Modenese car still has problems and goes off track, with Amon finishing the race, unharmed but certain that was not his mistake to cause the withdrawal.
But the 12th lap drama isn’t over, because Hill has no idea about Amon’s spin, and thinks that the Ferrari is still somewhere in the cloud of spray his enormous Firestone’s rear wheels throw in the air behind him. After Hohe Acht the Lotus goes off track sideways and starts spinning, with the main concern on Hill being run over by Amon’s Ferrari. Hill leaves his Lotus slip backwards, so that the engine shuts off, and stopping he inserts the full lock so that the muzzle swings out of the line of fire. While Hill presses feverishly the starter motor is baffled at the non-appearance of Amon’s Ferrari and, not capable of starting the engine, gets out and turns the car by hands. He gets back again in the cockpit, tries again and breathes a sigh of relief when the engine comes back on again allowing him to race again. All of this gives Rindt the chance to get close to the Lotus. Although the Brabham has a gap of only two seconds at the start of the last lap on the Lotus, Hill is confident he can maintain his second position. Hill sees Amon’s Ferrari parked on the track side later, understanding why his rival disappeared from his rear. In the meantime the amazing Stewart is awarded one of his best victories, the second for Matra in the 1968 season, both on wet. Never like this win at Nurburgring threw the challenge to the drivers, that no matter their final positions proved themselves up to the situation and fought with all their strength and determination.