Updates to New Website

There have been a number of additions to the new website, including a section for articles written by relatives or by members of the public. Below you can find links to the two new articles which have been posted today, one on Mark Gleed, a Mosquito navigator with 139 Squadron, and the other on Geoff Baker, a Lancaster pilot on 97 Squadron.

If you would like to propose an article for publishing on the website, please get in contact at our new site, details at the end of this post.

Remembrance Sunday

The total wartime losses for the Path Finder Force were given by their commander, Donald Bennett, as being 3,618 men.[1] It was a large figure for a small Force which only came into existence in the fourth year of the war.

Today we feature just one of those lost Pathfinders, Flying Officer Lewis Walter Castle Austin, who was killed by flak on the night of 7/8 March 1945 and brought home by his crew, that of Owen-Penny, flying with 582 Squadron. The crew were very fortunate to survive the severe damage to the aircraft.

In his letter of deeply-felt condolence to Lewis’s wife, his commanding officer Wing Commander John Clough wrote of how exceptionally popular Lewis has been, and of his ‘great charm of manner and his keen sense of humour’. He also wrote:

I am particularly to express the sincere regrets of his captain, Squadron Leader V G Owen-Jones, and of the of the crew who flew with him in his last sortie in the loss of a real colleague and friend.

Photograph and information courtesy of Helen Austin

[1] Bennett, Pathfinder, p.259.

Migration to the New Website

This post provides a permanent link to our new website, which has been under development for a few months now. Although there is a great deal more to do, it is shaping up well. The catalogue system has already proved its worth; it would have been impossibly long-winded to superimpose such a system on this old website, which was one of the major reasons for the move.

We hope you will enjoy the new website.

Kind Regards – The TRUSTEES

Pathfinder Aircrew

This book has been 14 years in the making; it contains many personal stories, letters and photographs from the Archive, and has been written by our Chairperson, Jennie Mack Gray.

For full details, including table of contents, page and photo samples, please go to our new website: PATHFINDER AIRCREW: Courage, Love and Loss in Bomber Command’s Elite Force.

Free shipping for a limited period.

Hardback, 300 pages including 16 page illustration section, 37 colour illustrations. Price £25.

Ken Newman – RIP

It is with great sadness that we must pass on the news that Ken died from COVID on 31 January. Tragically, he was diagnosed with the virus on his 100th birthday on 13 January.

Our thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time. Due to the virus they were unable to be with him in his last illness and his birthday was the last time they saw him.

Ken with his copy of Kevin Bending’s book on 97 Squadron. Photograph by his grandson, Danny Newman.

Ken Newman’s 100th Birthday

It seems that there may have been a mix-up about the exact date of Ken’s birthday. One source (family) said 21 January, another 13 January. We are checking but in the meantime please send your goodwill messages in as soon as possible and don’t leave them until the 15th which was the original cut-off date!

100th Birthday for a Gunner, 97 Sqd

Ken Newman (second from right) who flew with the Steven crew but who missed their fatal flight on 14 January 1944 due to a bad skin complaint, will be 100 years old on 21 January. If anyone would like to send a message to Ken, please send us an email via our usual email address (info@raf-pathfindersarchive.com) or a message via our FB site. He doesn’t do computers, so what is sent will be printed out for him.

Ken has always felt deeply grieved by the loss of the Steven crew and of Leslie Laver who took his place on that last night.

Please make sure that we receive any messages for Ken by 15 January at the latest.