Coffins of Sandy Grant and Tony Lawrence of the Thackway crew

By Jennie Mack Gray

The Archive has its roots in a tragedy which occurred on 16/17 December 1943, Black Thursday. At that time, the Thackway crew was stationed at Bourn. Their 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 critically injured but recovered; 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.

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.

Many other Pathfinder aircrew were lost due to fog on 16/17 December 1943, and it was a disastrous night for Bomber Command. The research I carried out for my book on that night, Fire By Night: The Story of One Pathfinder Crew and Black Thursday, 16/17 December 1943, was the genesis of the website which grew into this archive.