The Path Finder Force was a small but vital facet of Bomber Command. Created in August 1942 to improve bombing accuracy, it led the other squadrons of Bomber Command, collectively known as Main Force, by marking the routes and bombing targets. So vital was the Pathfinders’ job that on 1 April 1943, after some months
80 years ago today, on 13 January 1943, in recognition of the outstanding results that the Path Finder Force had achieved in its first six months, it was given parity with other Bomber Command Groups by being elevated to Group status. Yet although the official name of the Path Finder Force was now 8 Group,
When checking through the pages of our old website, in search of images of Pathfinders wearing their PFF badges post-war, I found one of Charles Owen, an outstanding pilot and captain with 97 Squadron in the Pathfinders, 1943-1944. (Note: For an artistic representation of an RAF officer wearing his PFF badge in the 1960s, see
Bennett was strongly averse to publicity, unlike his great rival Cochrane in 5 Group who had his own PR specialists, one of several reasons why the Dambusters became so enduringly famous. The Feature Page for September picks up on Bennett’s dislike of publicity and 5 Group’s expertise in it. See also this page on how the
A question which comes up perennially about the Pathfinders is why some of them were flying with 5 Group as opposed to 8 Group (as the Pathfinders had become in early 1943) and why they continued to be awarded PFF badges and certificates. This page provides the answer: PFF Squadrons in 5 Group.
In the earliest days of the Pathfinders, the PFF had a Staff Officer contingent of only five, of whom William Anderson was one. Another was Robert Murray Buchan, the Navigation Staff Officer. Sadly, Buchan went missing on 25 August with an 83 Squadron crew, a mere ten days after the PFF was formed. The crew was that
Further to our post yesterday on Bill Anderson’s Logbook and the first PFF sortie, we have since learned that “Jacko” was William Grierson Jackson, RCAF, who was a close friend of Bill Anderson. Jackson, who served at PFF NTU, was a pretty amazing character. Anderson describes him affectionately in his memoirs Pathfinders. We have updated
William Anderson was one of the handful of Staff Officers at PFF HQ who was in at the very beginning. Anderson was an outstanding navigator, and there is much more come about him; however, in this month which celebrates the 80th Anniversary of the formation of the Pathfinders, we simply could not resist this absolutely
To all our friends, supporters, and generous donors over the years – We celebrate the formation of the Path Finder Force on 15 August 1942 and remember with great gratitude what they did for us. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY.
During his time commanding the Path Finder Force, Donald Bennett only sent two direct personal message to the men, women, squadrons and stations under his command. The first was 0n 22 August 1943, one year after the Path Finder Force was formed; it was a slightly belated First Anniversary message. The second was on VE
Amongst the Pathfinders’ early losses was Leslie Barr of 7 Squadron. Other losses in the early days included the Savage crew of 156 Squadron, who were shot down on a Kassel operation on 27/28 August 1942. They are buried at Reichswald Forest Cemetery. See this page: PFF Losses First Month, 1942 We are seeking further
A cautious approach was taken towards the creation of the Path Finder Force in summer 1942, reflecting the controversy about whether it was required at all and whether it would manage to live up to its supporters’ expectations. It was given ‘lodgings’ with 3 Group, and a hotch-potch of squadrons with different aircraft. Read the Full
Sir Arthur Harris, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Bomber Command, had been strongly opposed to the setting up of a separate elite target-marking force, believing this would leave to rivalry and jealousy within the non-Pathfinder squadrons (known as Main Force) who would inevitably resent having their best crews taken away from them. He never quite got
Donald Bennett was Harris’s personal choice for the command of the Path Finder Force; he took up his post on 15 July 1942, one month before the PFF officially came into existence. Bennett , right, with one of his top officers, John Searby, 1944 At 32 years of age, Bennett was considerably younger than his
As part of our 80th Anniversary celebrations, a reminder of just how controversial the creation of the Pathfinders was. When the formation of the Path Finder Force was first being discussed in the first half of 1942, the name used in RAF memoranda and papers was the ‘Target Finding Force’. Harris’s correspondence with Charles Portal,