Here is a good old-fashioned needle-in-a-haystack query, but one which is funny and endearing as well. Around 1988, a little boy of about 10 years old, flying home from holiday, found himself sitting next to a ‘hefty, square built man who had an arm missing’. This man turned out to have been a Lancaster pilot in the Pathfinders during the war. Below is the report that the little boy wrote afterwards.
The question is obviously can anyone say who this Pathfinder pilot was?
It’s worth adding that we were contacted about this mystery Pathfinder by the little boy’s father, who told us: “My son is now a GP and still mad about planes”.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were days like any other for Pathfinder and Main Force aircrew.
The village of Great Paxton is just west of RAF Graveley, at perhaps a mile’s distance from the old airfield. The peaceful-looking village scene above was the scene of a wartime tragedy, marked by the blue ‘X’, which occurred on Christmas Eve 1944 at about twenty to four in the afternoon.
Colin Stocker, who as a boy lived at Yelling on the outskirts of the wartime airfield, sent Jennie Gray this photograph around 2007. On the back Colin had written the story.
TL-S Lancaster, 35 Squadron, taking off from Graveley crashed at Great Paxton behind four council houses in London Lane. The wing of the plane ripped off tiles of roofs. Stanley Jackson was feeding his hens, saw the bomber coming through the dense fog and ran into his house. After the bomber crashed, he found all the hens dead.
George Carrol pulled one of the aircrew out of the wreckage. He was just alive. All the others were killed. Bombs were strewn in all directions.
Sadly, the man taken from the wreckage also died.
In Bomber Command Losses, 1944, Chorley recorded the crew as being:
F/O A T Kenyon
Sgt L Williams
Sgt A Thomas
F/S A H Cousins
F/S C L Blundell
Sgt C A Winter
Sgt R F A Yallop
The website is currently being updated to a more modern and easy-to-follow format. Please excuse any oddities you may come across – everything will be ironed out as soon as possible.
The Path Finder Monument has now been completed and was recently unveiled at RAF Wyton on Path Finder Sunday.
It will be relocated to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where it will remain permanently.
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.
The PFF Group Medical Officer was a highly impressive man known informally as Doc Macgown. For details of Macgown’s remarkable life, see this new page:
PFF Staff – Doc MacGown
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.
FRANK McEGAN FILM