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.
Alain Libert, who for some years has been researching the Ottignies operation, 20 April 1944, and the loss of the Mansbridge crew, has produced a two-part video on the subject. Although it is in French, it can be easier to follow for English-speakers if you turn on the auto subtitles in YouTube. With thanks to Debbie Kennett, niece of Gerald Cruwys, the navigator of the Mansbridge crew.
We at last have two images of Jeff Pelletier, one of the last three pilots flying on 16/17 December 1943, Black Thursday, for whom we did not have a photograph. He was identified this year as being one of a group of pilots in a photograph sent by Wilfred Riches’ family ten years ago.
Mandy Lyell, his grand-daughter, who identified him, also sent a picture of Jeff in 1945, after he had become a test pilot.
Jeff was one of 97 Squadron’s top pilots.
Of the 21 pilots and 4 second pilots flying on Black Thursday, we are now only missing photographs for David Brill and Victor Flack with his second pilot Roderick Emerson.
If anyone can find anything on these two elusive pilots, please contact us.
The Wakley page has finally been transferred from the old website. This page is a good illustration of the cross-currents between crews, who did not necessarily fly their entire tour in the original seven-men group which had come from the Conversion Units or another squadron.
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.