From: Jennie Mack Gray – It has been quite a while since this website was updated, due mainly to me taking a sabbatical to finish my book on the Pathfinders (this was delayed, like so much else, by COVID-19).The book is not yet entirely done but it is very close. The working title is
Belonging to the Elite: Courage, Love and Loss in the Pathfinders of Bomber Command
The website will have a number of updates in the course of the next few weeks, but tonight two pages have been added about the Pathfinder leadership:
Pathfinder HQ; Ops Room and Group Photo 1944
Hamish Mahaddie, IWM sound recordings (1972 & 1989)
We are delighted to welcome Sean Feast as a Trustee of the Archive. Sean is a keen supporter of the military with a passion for aviation. Amongst his many books is The Pathfinder Companion, which was published in association with the Pathfinder Collection at RAF Wyton.
With Sean’s arrival, we have set up a Meet the Team page which gives details of who is behind the scenes at the Archive.
Unfortunately, due to the ever-increasing number of enquiries and our slender resources, not to mention the complications brought by COVID-19, we can no longer undertake research enquiries except for a selected few. These are the ones which promise to add interesting information to the Archive. For further information on what the Archive is interested in and how you can undertake your own research, see our new page: RESEARCH ENQUIRIES
Just a quick note, prompted by a comment on our Guy Gibson post yesterday, to say that over the coming months we will be substantially increasing information on the background to the Path Finder Force’s war. This is because the Path Finder Force cannot be seen in isolation from the world in which it operated, which self-evidently had a profound effect on how the Force developed and what its personnel thought about serving in it.
Our tagline has always been:
Pathfinder Aircrew, their Friends, their Families, and the World they Knew
For more about our research aims, see the ‘Sourcing the Archive’ section of The Archive
All the Pathfinder squadrons and units recorded in their ORBs on 8 May 1945 that Victory in Europe had been achieved. Above is our favourite entry.
The full page of the ORB, which is that of the NTU (National Training Unit) at Warboys, is below: (see also Training the Pathfinders)
It is interesting to note that the Pathfinders clearly knew that victory had been declared on 7th May, one day before the public announcement.
Probably at no time in its existence has the prestige of the RAF stood higher than at the end of the Second World War. The huge part that the RAF had played in the Allied victory was emphasised at that time by the fact that it was Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder who was the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, second only to General Eisenhower himself. The RAF’s Sir Arthur Tedder & the German Surrender
The last of our topical posts for the time being on the type of restrictions and shortages which people put up with during the war. The three items all appeared in the same edition of the Manchester Evening News on 3 November 1943.
The main interest is in the marriage of Cyril Tate – he and three of his fellow pilots managed to get special leave for his wedding, a very unusual dispensation given that all four pilots would be away from duty at the same time. This is a particularly nice photograph of a wartime wedding, with everyone looking very happy.
Then we have the rather feisty Joyce Daisy Munro , who was summoned for going into a restricted area ‘for the purposes of pleasure’:
Lastly, for anyone grumbling because they can’t get any eggs from the supermarket (dried eggs were proverbially disgusting):
So much time has been taken up recently with dealing with the knock-on effects of Covid 19 that there has only been one post on this website this month. We hope to remedy this as from tomorrow.
In the meantime, off our usual Pathfinder message for one night only, we leave you with this modern-day image of hope.
The various items on this website about Donald Bennett, the highly gifted leader of the Pathfinders, have now been gathered on one central page: Donald Bennett, The Pathfinders’ AOC. At the bottom of this page is a link to the IWM sound recordings – Donald Bennett, IWM Sound Recordings (1986) – of Bennett discussing his life and RAF career shortly before his sudden death in September 1986.
Two items from the IWM this morning, both from Richard Maddox who is a volunteer at the museum. The first concerns Bomber Command generally. It is a link to Richard’s post on the IWM Volunteer website about the man who is thought to be the oldest flyer in Bomber Command. This was Viscount Stansgate, who trained as a rear gunner and flew operationally in the last year of the war – at the astonishing age of 67.