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.
Doug Jones’ crew is one of those I have known about for several years, but have only just got round to putting more of the information on the crew online. This had been largely prompted by the arrival here of Maurice Hemming’s memoir, Achieve Your Aim – Maurice was the Flight Engineer. My thanks to Rob Churchyard for sending the memoir.
It was extremely rare for a bomber crew in dire trouble to be able to send a message before the aircraft came down, but this was the case for the Moroney crew on 22 March 1944, whose w/op transmitted from the North Sea. Sadly, rescue never came and all the crew were lost.
I am very sad to inform you all that Eric Rimmington of the Benton crew passed away on 9th October 2016. He was 95 years old.
As his daughter Joan wrote, Eric was ‘a wonderful, much loved and respected man by all that knew him’.
I was in correspondence with Eric for several years, but the only time I met him was at the old airfield at Bourn in the summer of 2014. He was so extremely modest that he did not want to wear his medals until he was pressed to do so – everybody wanted to take a photograph of him with them. He was such a lovely gentleman, and the word ‘gentleman’ suited him perfectly.
Our last update on this memorial day concerns a unique piece of cine film, the only one we know of a member of 97 Squadron in wartime. Taken in 1943, it epitomises the glamour of RAF aircrew.
The man in the film is Frank McEgan, an Australian and a member of the RAAF. However, we use the term ‘RAF aircrew’ above because all the RAAF, RCAF and RNZAF aircrew were under the full operational command of the RAF.
As part of our commemoration of Black Thursday, we are posting an article by Doug Curtis, who flew that night and was one of the lucky survivors. Here is the link to Doug’s article, which was originally published almost 20 years ago in 1998.
The Scott crew page has been updated with a new photograph of Sid Parrott and of the entire crew, posed in two stunning studio portraits, two months before their deaths on Black Thursday. These studio portraits are highly unusual as almost invariably photographs of a crew are informal snapshots, usually on the airfield with their Lancaster. Perhaps the fact that so many of the crew were from overseas had something to do with this. Scott and Foxcroft were from the RAAF and Irvine and Hope were from the RCAF.
Additionally, the Loss Cardfor the Scott crew aircraft has been added, which is representative of those filled out for Black Thursday and for other UK-based RAF accidents.
Our thanks to Doug Curtis for pointing out an error on the Billing crew page – Tommy Hope was lost with the Ash crew, not the Edwards crew, as we had previously stated. Tommy was the only member of the Billing crew not to survive the war, but he died alongside Stewie Edwards, who did his first five or so ops with the Billing crew.
As Doug Curtis sadly observed (13 December 2013), ‘all of our charms that they carried had run out of luck’.