What’s in a Name?

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 …

See the first FEATURE article of 2023 on our new website: READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Lancaster Gunners “Hotting-up”

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.


80th Anniversary of the PFF

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:


The Loss of the Robertson Crew

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

Hal Mettam, RAAF Bomber Pilot

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)

Remembrance: Black Thursday

On Thursday and Friday this week we remember the 50 Pathfinder aircrew who were killed in crashes in England on Thursday and Friday 78 years ago.

The crews had just returned safely from that night’s operation to Berlin when a series of fatal accidents occurred due to dense fog, difficulties in landing and petrol shortage.

For the names of all who were lost, see our new website page: Pathfinder Losses on 16/17 December 1943