The annual lighting of candles on the 167 graves at the War Cemetery at Den Burg, Texel, took place yesterday evening, Christmas Eve.This is a very simple but extremely moving and quietly spectacular ceremony, and for the last three years we have published photographs of it. See our new website: Den Burg, Texel, Xmas Eve

Christmas Greetings

From all the team at the RAF Pathfinders Archive:

Happy Christmas to everyone who has supported us over the years, and may next year, 2021, see life restored to something like normality after the immense problems and sorrows caused by the Corona virus. To see the menu at RAF Station Graveley on December 1944, visit our new website: Christmas at Graveley Last Year of the War

Victoria Cross: 23 December 1944

On 16 December 1944, German Panzers spearheaded a surprise attack in the Ardennes that smashed through thinly held Allied lines, catching the Allied commanders completely off-guard. The Allied fight-back included this extraordinary feat of heroism which won Bob Palmer one of the three VCs awarded to Pathfinders: Victoria Cross, 23 December 1944: “Heroic Endeavour” The story is told by Sean Feast.

Why the Archive Began

The Archive has its roots in a tragedy which occurred on 16/17 December 1943, afterwards known as Black Thursday. At that time, the crew of Ted Thackway were serving with 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 dense fog. See Why the Archive Began on our new website.

Dominion Aircrew

There are three new pages on our new website, all to do with Dominion crew. This photograph of a rescued Wellington crew comes from Allan Templeton’s logbook, from the time he was with Air Sea Rescue. Allan was a Newfoundlander. The other two pages focus on Australian and New Zealander airmen in training.

Searby & The End of a Kiwi Gunner’s Tour

John Searby (left, with Bennett in 1944, IWM: CH 20628) was one of the best known and most revered of the Pathfinder squadron and station commanders. According to the dates in Bennett’s book Pathfinder, he was:

  • CO of 83 Squadron from 9 May 1943 until 2 November 1943
  • Station Commander at Upwood from 20 November 1943 until 10 February 1944.
  • Station Commander at Warboys from 3 June 1944 until 24 July 1944 (the June date is given as being in 1943, but this has to be a mistyping)

In September 1943, Searby wrote a note of commendation in the Flying Log Book of Pat Menzies. This is the first note we have seen like this in a logbook. See: Searby & the End of a Kiwi Gunner’s Tour