PFF Navigation Training Unit, the NTU

The PFF Navigation Training Unit, the NTU (sometimes recorded as ‘PFTU’ or as ‘NTU 8 Grp’ on service records) provided additional training for the highly specialised Pathfinder duties. The course seems to have varied in length but, in the case of Lancaster crews, seems to have generally  been between one or two weeks. We are checking whether the Mosquito course was of the same length.

The NTU was formed in April 1943 at Gransden Lodge. As the Unit’s ORB tells us a little obscurely, its role was ‘for the purpose of final navigation of training complete aircrews for Path Finder Squadrons’.

formation of PFF NTU

In June 1943, the Unit transferred to Upwood, with some of its work including aircraft and maintenance personnel, going to Warboys.

PFF NTU - move to upwood

The split Upwood-Warboys operation was noted in the Upwood-based ORB of September 1943 to not be conducive to the ‘100% efficiency’ of the Unit. It appears that all the work of the Unit had been consolidated to Warboys by March 1944, where the Unit remained until the end of the war.

The last page of the NTU ORB, ending 18 June 1945, tells of the farewell party of the Unit as it closed down, attended amongst others by Mahaddie who was the Station Commander.

Also note the provision of ‘Cooks Tours’ of Germany to see the devastation there which the PFF had so notably helped to accomplish. With the war won, everything was winding down, and the complex matters of the peace and the rebuilding of Germany would now be taking precedence.

PFF NTU - last month, at Warboys

MOSQUITO CONVERSION UNIT – 1655 Mosquito Conversion unit (the MCU) was also at Warboys for a while. It was responsible for the conversion of crews to the Mosquito for Bomber Command, and also training them to use OBOE and H2S. The MCU was disbanded at the end of December 1944 and its navigation training commitments were passed on to the NTU.


Featured image, King George VI inspecting Warboys, February 1944. See also William Peart Reader.