On Thursday and Friday this week we remember the 50 Pathfinder aircrew who were killed in crashes in England on Thursday and Friday 78 years ago.
The crews had just returned safely from that night’s operation to Berlin when a series of fatal accidents occurred due to dense fog, difficulties in landing and petrol shortage.
For the names of all who were lost, see: Pathfinder Losses on 16/17 December 1943
Every one of the 50 losses would have resulted in a telegram such as the one below being sent to their next of kin. These telegrams would have arrived within a very few hours of the deaths, and were followed shortly afterwards by a detailed letter from the OC of the dead man’s squadron.
The intensity of the heartbreak suffered by families and friends is close to unimaginable.