The total wartime losses for the Path Finder Force were given by their commander, Donald Bennett, as being 3,618 men. 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 had 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 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