John Sauvage’s Funeral

John’s funeral will be on Monday 29th April 2019 at 3.00 pm. This will be held at Harwood Park Crematorium, Watton Road, Stevenage SG2 8XT. The family have issued an open invitation and all are welcome to attend.

Although this will in many ways be a deeply sad occasion, it will also be a celebration of an extraordinary man, a highly decorated Pathfinder, and a great character whose children remember his terrifying high-speed car driving which went hand in hand with his favourite saying:

Life consists of the quick or the dead, particularly when you have a Messerschmitt 109 up your arse.

PFF Memorial Dedication Postponed

Here is a message from John Clifford, one of our Trustees and Senior Curator at the Pathfinder Collection at Wyton:

Dear All

It is with deep regret that due to circumstances outside my control or influence, the dedication for the Pathfinder Memorial planned to be held at The National Memorial Arboretum on Saturday 13th April 2019 at 13:00 hrs has to be postponed.  This mainly due to the fact that the Memorial stone is still not in place!

Plan B is being hatched at present and once details are known, an update will be posted in the first instance.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Yours Aye John

Carrier Pigeons in the Bomber War

It’s amazing how lots of little things relating to the same subject come together at the same time when one is researching. In February we published a page which gave a post and a page on Lancaster Gunners “Hotting Up”. In one part of the drawing, not included on the detail which we used, there was a pigeon in a carrier case. This clearly shows that carrier pigeons were still being used in Bomber Command as late as December 1943. For more details see our new page: Carrier Pigeons in the Bomber War

Pathfinder Collection, Wyton

People sometimes confuse the Pathfinder Collection at RAF Wyton, Heritage Centre, and ourselves, the RAF Pathfinders Archive, which is understandable given the similarity of the names. Just to clarify: while the Pathfinder Collection and ourselves share digital material, and some of the Archive’s best artefacts are on display at Wyton, we are separate legal entities.

John Clifford, Senior Curator at the Pathfinder Collection, is a bridge between the two of us as he is also one of the RAF Pathfinders Archive trustees.

The page on our Partnership has just been updated and will hopefully make things clearer. If you want to arrange a visit to the Pathfinder Collection, all the details can be found there.

Display at the Pathfinder Collection at Wyton, which includes items on loan from the RAF Pathfinders Archive.

Path Finder Force Memorial, NMA

In our post of 5 September 2017, we wrote that the Path Finder Force Memorial had been completed and had been unveiled at RAF Wyton on Pathfinder Sunday. It was due to be relocated to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where it would remain permanently.

Unfortunately, there have been a number of highly frustrating delays but it is now proposed to move it to the NMA at the end of this month, on the last weekend of March. The proposed date for the dedication ceremony is Saturday April 13th, time TBD, although John Clifford who has done so much to make this all happen suggests 13:00 approximately to allow for travel.

We will post an update when the details are confirmed.

John Sauvage, a P.S.

The explanation for the mix-up about nationality is now explained. As John’s son-in-law explains:

The Seychelles used to be French , but we won them as “spoils of war “ at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The locals speak a version of French (especially the old ones like John) when ever they get together. We have comments from 97 Squadron mates who say he cut a swathe through the local ladies of Cambridge with his “French “ accent !!! Say no more.

Above: John (centre) with his crew

John Sauvage, 100th Birthday

John Sauvage, one of 97 Squadron’s most distinguished pilots, is 100 years old this weekend. The main image on this post is of John with his crew discussing arcane matters next to their Lancaster at Bourn in the summer of 1943. He can also be seen below with his ground crew in front of his 97 Squadron aircraft.

We were told years ago that John was French. In fact, we have learned this morning that he is Seychellois (from the Seychelles), which was a British possession from 1814 under the Treaty of Paris, and became a Crown Colony. He is now a naturalised British citizen.

In the ground crew photo John looks every inch the dashing young pilot. Below the photograph can be found the link to his citation for the Distinguished Service Order in the London Gazette of 30 November 1943 (second column, third down), which makes particular mention of his leadership qualities which inspired others to follow his high standard. We all join in wishing John the very best wishes for his birthday on Saturday.

London Gazette, 30 November 1943

TEE EMM

The link wasn’t working on yesterday’s post and it now is. However, here it is again. TEE EMM & PILOT OFFICER PRUNE.

TEE EMM, as previously stated, was the technical manual for the RAF, which contained a huge number of tips on the best way to fly. Pilot Officer Prune was called that intentionally, due to prunes well known laxative effect. As the cartoon states, Prune was to take TEE EMM regularly as it prevented that ‘thinking feeling’.

Desecration of Bomber Command War Memorial, London

Like everyone with any respect for our war dead, we were horrified by the attack on the Bomber Command Memorial in London on 21 January. We hope the police catch whoever was responsible as soon as possible.

The RAF Benevolent Fund are the guardians of the memorial and their Chief Executive made this comment:


This is the worst example of vandalism we have seen at the Memorial and it is utterly heart-breaking to see the memory of all those brave airmen disrespected in this way. This despicable act took just moments but will take considerable time and resources to put right. But like the remarkable men who the Memorial commemorates, we will not rest until we have finished the job.

The full cost of repair work is yet to be determined but is likely to run into thousands of pounds. The RAF Benevolent Fund’s latest press release details the public response to the attack.