Pathfinder Aircrew, their Friends, their Families, and the World they Knew
Author: RAF PATHFINDERS ARCHIVE
The Archive covers many aspects of life in RAF Bomber Command from 1942, the year in which the Path Finder Force (the PFF, later known as 8 Group) was formed. However, the Archive's specific focus is upon the Pathfinders as they were generally called. Historically, this Archive has always been centred around 97 Squadron, which belonged to the Pathfinders for one year. However, we are now looking to substantially increase the Archive to include all PFF squadrons, PFF HQ, and the wider Bomber Command and Home Front milieus. The aim of the Archive is to provide an in-depth illustration of what life - and death - were like for Pathfinder aircrew, their working comrades, their friends, and their families.
80 years ago today, on 13 January 1943, in recognition of the outstanding results that the Path Finder Force had achieved in its first six months, it was given parity with other Bomber Command Groups by being elevated to Group status. Yet although the official name of the Path Finder Force was now 8 Group, it continued to be popularly known by its old name or simply as the Pathfinders …
The Feature for October 2022, published on our new website, is LANCASTER GUNNERS “HOTTING UP”
It shows details from a fabulous charcoal drawing of Lancaster gunners preparing for a raid on Berlin in December 1943, which was published in The Illustrated London News on 18 December 1943. The double-page spread was drawn by Captain Bryan de Grineau, a war artist who had fought in the First World War and was 60 years of age at the time of making the drawing.
The 80th Anniversary of the formation of the Path Finder Force is fast approaching, and to celebrate we are running a series of features about the Force, its leadership and its history. These will be published on our new website. The first feature, now published, is on Bennett and the Tirpitz; it reflects the character of the man who formed and led the Pathfinders. Please follow the link below:
On our new website, we have just added some interesting and unusually detailed German eyewitness reports of the loss of the Robertson crew after the Nuremburg raid of 27/28 August 1943. Lancaster JA958K crashed at Bubenreuth, near Erlangen, around 16 miles (25.5 kilometres) north of Nuremburg. Five of the crew were killed immediately, including Oliver Brock Robertson, the Canadian pilot, and two survived, one very seriously injured although he recovered. See The Loss of the Robertson Crew
Today we are adding to the Library on our new website an article by Tim Willasey-Wilsey, Visiting Professor of War Studies at King’s College London. It concerns Hall Mettam, a member of the RAAF, whom Tim met in Beirut in 1974 just before the civil war which tore Lebanon apart. Hal was flying Boeing 707s for Middle East Airlines, but had once been a Pathfinder pilot. Hal and his wife Elizabeth eventually retired to England and Tim kept in touch with them until they died. It was only then that Tim saw Hal’s logbooks, and was able to paint the full picture of his career in the RAAF, including his time with the Pathfinders. An Australian Pathfinder Over Germany
Photograph shows Hal, left, and Keith Saladine, his bomb aimer, a fellow Australian. (Mettam family photograph)
There have been a number of additions to the new website, including a section for articles written by relatives or by members of the public. Below you can find links to the two new articles which have been posted today, one on Mark Gleed, a Mosquito navigator with 139 Squadron, and the other on Geoff Baker, a Lancaster pilot on 97 Squadron.
If you would like to propose an article for publishing on the website, please get in contact at our new site, details at the end of this post.