The Trustees of the RAF Pathfinders Archive, in order of their joining the Archive, are: Jennie Mack Gray, Kristine Johnston, John Clifford and Sean Feast. Below – in their own words – is a brief outline of their backgrounds and interests. At the foot of the page, you can find Pete Tresadern, our first Associate Researcher, whose main speciality is 35 Squadron.
Jennie Mack Gray – Chairperson
I have been researching the Second World War, the RAF, and the aftermath of the war since 1995. The photograph above is of my first visit in 1996 to see what was left of RAF Station Bourn where my father Peter Mack, a wireless operator in 97 Squadron, was stationed in late 1943. The man I am talking to is Jim Hansford, a local resident who knew much about the old wartime station.
In 2016 I completed my doctorate at the University of Exeter, my thesis being on the British and their dead servicemen in North-West Europe after the Second World War. This included the intensive work which the RAF undertook to trace the many thousands of aircrew missing in Europe. The renowned historian Professor Richard Overy was my doctoral supervisor.
In a previous incarnation I was Founder and Managing Editor of the Gothic Society, writing, editing and designing publications such as The Goth, Udolpho, and many others too numerous to mention.
My main books on the history of the Second World War are:
‘Fire By Night, The Story of One Pathfinder Crew and Black Thursday, 16th/17th December 1943
‘Major Cotterell and Arnhem: A War Crime and a Mystery’
‘This is WAR! The Diaries and Journalism of Anthony Cotterell, 1940-1944’
They were published under the name of Jennie Gray. I have changed my pen name to Jennie Mack Gray due to the very unfortunate coincidence that my name, with exactly the same spelling, is also that of someone convicted in an appalling child murder case.
Kris Johnston – Founding Trustee & Legal Advisor
Kris started her legal career in private practice in London, before continuing it in local government.
She was on the management board of two East Midlands local authorities, responsible for a wide portfolio of services. She specialised in governance issues and co-authored a Code of Practice on Planning which was used nationally.
Kris was officer Chairman of a number of inter-authority bodies (regionally and nationally), including the Sparsely Populated Councils Group. She was Chairman of the East Midlands Community Legal Service Partnership.
Her interest in history ranges from the Pathfinders to the medieval period, including its art and architecture.
John Clifford — Trustee and Senior Curator of the Pathfinder Collection, RAF Wyton
John Clifford hails from Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland and was educated at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell and on leaving school in 1976 became a Toolmaker Apprentice with the Lanarkshire Engineering Training Association under the Engineering Industry Training Board.
Enlisting as a member of the Royal Air Force in 1979, as an Aircraft Propulsion Mechanic, attaining promotion including a Fitters Course, he became a Propulsion Fitter (Technician) in 1985. After a 30 Year service career, he attained the rank of Chief Technician.
During his time in the Royal Air Force he has served at RAF Lossiemouth, 8 Squadron – Shackleton, RAF Leuchars, 43 Squadron – Phantom, RAF Bruggen in Germany, 31 Squadron – Tornado, RAF Lossiemouth, 237 OCU – Buccaneer and Hunter, On the disbandment of 237 OCU, John was posted to the Aircraft Maintenance Flight – Jaguar, Buccaneer, Hunter and Tornado, RAF Aldergrove, SNCO i/c Engineering Records and RAF Wyton – DE&S as a Tornado Specialist and subsequently promoted and posted as an Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) Analyst.
He has also been involved with tours of duty at Ali-Al-Salem, Kuwait and the RAF Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands. His duties have included, predominantly first and second line, on the aircraft mentioned above. His Northern Ireland and RAF Wyton tours have been sitting behind a desk in a management role as well as analysing data to aid in the writing of maintenance manuals for all military aircraft within the MOD.
During his career he has been awarded the General Service Medal with NI and Air ops Iraq clasps, Accumulated Campaign Service medal, Long Service & Good Conduct medal, Queens Jubilee medal, a Royal Air Force Commander-in-Chief Commendation and an Air Officer Commanding Commendation.
Mr Clifford is currently working at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group in Cambridge as the RCM Team Lead for the C130-J Hercules and the BBMF Dakota.
He is Senior Curator at the Pathfinder Collection, RAF Wyton.
Sean Feast – Trustee, Businessman, and Writer on RAF History
Sean Feast, FCICM MCIPR, is a PR Professional and Journalist with more than 35 years’ experience across the defence, high-tech and financial services sectors.
A founder and owner of Gravity Global, Sean specifically leads the Gravity PR team to deploy international and award-winning reactive and proactive campaigns, including challenging briefs in a range of different areas, from the dangers of pressure ulcers through to the lethality of air launched weapons systems. He retains a foothold in journalism, editing a monthly business and finance magazine, and was recently elected an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management for his work in supporting best payment practices.
A keen supporter of the military and with a passion for aviation, Sean wrote his first book in 1999, since when he has gone on to author or co-author more than 20 books on Bomber Command and Pathfinder Force in particular.
‘The Pathfinder Companion’ (Grub Street 2012) was published in association with the Pathfinder Collection at RAF Wyton. His history of 582 Squadron, ‘Master Bombers’ Grub Street 2008) was recently re-issued in paperback.
He was closely involved in writing two official volumes to accompany the opening of the Bomber Command Memorial and the new International Bomber Command Centre. He is also a regular contributor to a broad range of consumer titles including ‘Flypast’ and ‘Britain at War’.
He lives in rural Hertfordshire and is married with two (almost) grown up boys and a cat.
Pete Tresadern – Associate Researcher
Pete Tresadern started his RAF research in 2013, initially focusing on the loss of a particular aircraft and then expanding it to cover the wartime activities of 35 Squadron, a key Pathfinder squadron.
He has created a 1,500+ page website which contains information on all of 35 Squadron’s WWII operations, aircraft and personnel and he has also built up an extensive archive of original source documents which he has utilised to help over 250 families learn more about their relatives who served with the squadron.
He also provides information and support to various museums and memorial rooms which house 35 Squadron related exhibits, and raises funds for new memorials to commemorate squadron losses or for ongoing maintenance of existing ones.
His aim is to preserve the history of No. 35 Squadron for future generations and to ensure that all who served with the squadron are always remembered.
His work has enabled him to acquire background information on a wide range of subjects covering the time an airman joined the RAFVR through to the time of his resettlement, so he may be able to put this knowledge to use and point you in the right direction on non-35 Squadron related enquiries.
If you would like to be in touch with Pete, please send a message through our CONTACT page and we will forward your message to him.