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New Website for the Archive

At the RAF Pathfinders Archive, we have begun a review of this entire website: raf-pathfinders.com 

It has been added to and expanded for many years, and is now very much in need of an overhaul.

To facilitate the clean-up, a new website has been set up which has the marginally different address of: rafpathfinders.com

Whilst this is very much an ongoing project, it is probable that all the information will eventually be transferred to the new site.

On it, we are using a whole new cataloging system which should make subjects and groups of subjects very much easier to find. Much improved search facilities have also been installed.

All new material will be added there but for the time being posts will keep this old website very much up to date. 

Searby & The End of a Kiwi Gunner’s Tour

John Searby (left, with Bennett in 1944, IWM: CH 20628) was one of the best known and most revered of the Pathfinder squadron and station commanders. According to the dates in Bennett’s book Pathfinder, he was:

  • CO of 83 Squadron from 9 May 1943 until 2 November 1943
  • Station Commander at Upwood from 20 November 1943 until 10 February 1944.
  • Station Commander at Warboys from 3 June 1944 until 24 July 1944 (the June date is given as being in 1943, but this has to be a mistyping)

In September 1943, Searby wrote a note of commendation in the Flying Log Book of Pat Menzies. This is the first note we have seen like this in a logbook. See: Searby & the End of a Kiwi Gunner’s Tour

Donald Margach and Guy Gibson

We always welcome corrections or additions to the information on these pages. Sometimes it is the smallest details which really count. Amongst other points, Clive Smith, who specialises in 106 Squadron on which Donald Margach served with Guy Gibson, has kindly pointed out that Donald Margach’s epitaph as recorded on the CWGC website, reads: DEAR HUSBAND OF GRETA, DADDY OF ALISON, LOVED SON OF MR. AND MRS. W. MARGACH – so this almost certainly clears up the identity of the unknown woman and baby in a touching informal portrait of Donald. See: Donald Margach and Guy Gibson

PFF HQ and Hamish Mahaddie

From: Jennie Mack Gray – It has been quite a while since this website was updated, due mainly to me taking a sabbatical to finish my book on the Pathfinders (this was delayed, like so much else, by COVID-19).The book is not yet entirely done but it is very close. The working title is

Belonging to the Elite: Courage, Love and Loss in the Pathfinders of Bomber Command

The website will have a number of updates in the course of the next few weeks, but tonight two pages have been added about the Pathfinder leadership:

Pathfinder HQ; Ops Room and Group Photo 1944

Hamish Mahaddie, IWM sound recordings (1972 & 1989)

 

Heroic Endeavour – article by Sean Feast

Sean has written an article for the Archive’s website about the costly operation against Cologne on 23 December 1944 in which Bob Palmer won the VC, one of only three VCs won by the Path Finder Force. It was a posthumous award, as Bob Palmer lost his life together with the crew he was flying with, the Milne crew of 582 Squadron pictured here. At that time, Bob Palmer was actually a Mosquito pilot with 109 Squadron, but the particular requirements of the operation meant that he was flying the aircraft at the time it was shot down. For the full article read here: Heroic Endeavour – Cologne, 23 December 1944

Sean Feast & Meet The Team

We are delighted to welcome Sean Feast as a Trustee of the Archive. Sean is a keen supporter of the military with a passion for aviation. Amongst his many books is The Pathfinder Companion, which was published in association with the Pathfinder Collection at RAF Wyton.

With Sean’s arrival, we have set up a Meet the Team page which gives details of who is behind the scenes at the Archive.

Charles Owen Diary Entry, D-Day

Charles Owen‘s diary records of this day:

6 June 1944

Target: St Pierre du Mont – Coastal battery A/C Lancaster ND961 N-NAN

Time: 3.50

We thought the briefing sounded a little odd for this trip, and sure enough when we broke cloud over the French coast the Channel was full of ships. The army had pulled its finger out at last and D-Day was on. We bombed at 05.00 just as it was getting light, and had a grandstand view of the Americans running in on the beach. First-class prang on the battery, but saw Jimmy Carter shot down by a Ju88 over the target. Marvellous sight coming back as the sun came up, we on the way back and the Americans on the way out.

Landed back in time for breakfast, but very disappointed that there was nothing on the 8 o’clock news.

D-Day – The Loss of the Carter Crew


 

Jespersen Crew, D-Day

Jespersen Condolence Letter