Category: PFF AOC, Donald Bennett

What’s In a Name? 8 Group or PFF?

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, Read More

PFF Squadrons in 5 Group

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. Read More

Bennett’s Messages to his Force

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 Read More

80th Anniversary: Bennett chosen to lead the PFF

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 Read More

Bennett and the Tirpitz

In April 1942, Donald Bennett was shot down attacking the feared German battleship, the Tirpitz, which was holed up in a Norwegian fjord. After many trials and with the assistance of the Norwegian people, he escaped from Occupied Norway to neutral Sweden. He was back in the UK in late May. Less than seven weeks Read More

Don Bennett, AOC

Bennett’s dauntless, energetic, driven personality would be inextricably woven throughout the character of the Path Finder Force. Born on a cattle ranch in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia on 14 September 1910, Donald Clifford Tyndall Bennett, familiarly known as Don Bennett, was almost 32 years old when he took command of the Path Finder Force. Two decades Read More

Pathfinder War Losses

Above: Temporary grave marker for the Coates crew, killed 25 March 1944, RPA/H97/Coates The total Pathfinder losses, incurred from August 1942 to May 1945, were given by Donald Bennett, their Air Officer Commanding (AOC), as being 3,618 men. As the AOC of the Pathfinders, Bennett was in the best position to know the sacrifices which Read More

Harris, Bennett & Flying Boats

At the beginning of the 1930s, long before he was the chief of Bomber Command, Harris served as Commanding Officer of 210 Squadron, based at Pembroke Dock in Wales, which flew flying boats. Bennett, who had arrived at Pembroke Dock shortly before Harris, was to be one of Harris’s Flight Commanders on the squadron. Read Read More

Being Proud of One’s Country

I was flicking through Donald Bennett’s autobiography Pathfinder yesterday, and came upon this passage, which seemed strangely reminiscent of a certain situation in the British Parliament today. Bennett is writing of the time that, having resigned from the Air Force, he became a member of Parliament for Middlesborough West, thus beginning a period of intense Read More


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