By Jennie Gray
The Archive has its roots in a tragedy which occurred on 16/17 December 1943, Black Thursday. At that time, the THACKWAY crew belonged to 97 Squadron, which was stationed at Bourn in Cambridgeshire. The crew’s first operation was to Berlin on 16 December. Returning safely to England, they crashed in a horrific accident caused by fog. Five of the crew were killed: Ted Thackway, Tony Lawrence, Sandy Grant, Jack Powell, and George Grundy. My father, Joe Mack, was the Wireless Operator of the crew. He was critically injured but would recover; he was lucky and survived the war. So many others did not, including the Rear Gunner on his aircraft at the time of the crash, Leslie Laver.
Les, as he was known to his loving family, was the only other survivor of the crash; he suffered only minor abrasions and shock. Returning to operations one month later, he was killed on his second operation, flying with the STEVEN crew.
The research I undertook about this crew was first published in 2000 in my book FIRE BY NIGHT, and it became the genesis of this website.
This website commemorates all the Pathfinder aircrew, but it particularly remembers the Thackway crew because of the horrific experiences they suffered in their very short flying career.