Category: History of the PFF

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

Feature for September 22

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 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: PFF Losses in First Month, 1942

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 Read More

80th Anniversary: Early Months of the Path Finder Force

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 Read More

80th Anniversary: Harris’s Attitude to the PFF

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 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

80th Anniversary: Harris Opposition to PFF

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, Read More


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