Hamish Mahaddie, IWM sound recordings (1972 & 1989)

Mahaddie, whose nickname was Hamish, was one of the Pathfinders’ top leaders and a very notable character. His assessment of his commanding officer, Donald Bennett, in these IWM sound recordings and in his autobiography HAMISH, is very frank.

Above: Drawing of Hamish Mahaddie by A J R Lonson (?), 1942,

Ivor Edwards collection RPA/H7/Aircrew/Edwards


1. IWM Sound File 2897 (1972), 3 Reels, 90 minutes duration


REEL 1 Aspects of operations as NCO with 77 Sqdn, No 4 Group, Bomber Command, RAF in GB, 9/1939-6/1940: difficulties encountered in finding targets in early bombing raids. Aspects of operations as pilot with 7 Sqdn, Pathfinder Force, Bomber Command, RAF in GB, 8/1942-2/1943: background to organisation of 1000 Bomber Raid on Cologne, 1942; origins of aircraft carrying out the 1000 Bomber Raid; technical improvements introduced by 1942; corkscrewing tactics. Recollections of period as staff officer with Headquarters, No 8 (Pathfinder Force), Bomber Command, RAF in GB, 3/1943-7/1944: multi-national character of Bomber Command; opinion of Air Vice Marshal Donald Bennett; effects of improvements introduced into Bomber Command; role of the Pathfinder Force; opinion of the Dambuster Raid, 1943; memories of Air Marshal Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris.

REEL 2 Continues: signal sent to aircrews by Air Marshal Arthur ‘Bomber’Harris; character of multi-national crew; importance of not showing fear; question of morality of strategic bombing; relations with Americans; attitude to role played in war.

REEL 3 Continues: explanation of the weaving and corkscrew manoeuvre; attitude as regular officer in the RAF; effects of introduction of Commonwealth aircrew into Bomber Command, 1942-1943; strength of German anti-aircraft defences; reiteration of the wearing manoeuvre.

2. IWM Sound File 10596 (23 January 1989), 5 reels, 150 minutes duration


REEL 1 Recollections of operations as pilot as 77 Sqdn, No 4 Group, Bomber Command, RAF in GB, 9/1939-6/1940: sketch of pre-war RAF career; receiving news of outbreak of Second World War, 3/9/1939; status of sergeant pilots; participating in first leaflet raid of Second World War; character of leaflet raids during Phoney War; ineffectiveness of target finding in first years of Second World War; pressure from other services against bombing campaign.

REEL 2 Continues: Recollections of operations as pilot with 7 Sqdn, Pathfinders Force in GB, 8/1942-2/1943: state of Bomber Command when Air Marshal Arthur Harris took over, 2/1942; frustrations amongst experienced aircrew; decision to launch first 1000 bomber raid, 5/1942; growth of Bomber Command, 1942-1945; start of Pathfinder Force; his selection for Pathfinders Force; debacle of Pathfinder Force’s first raid on Flensburg, Germany; alterations to Pathfinder Force Short Stirlings to reach an operating ceiling of 18,000 feet.

REEL 3 Continues: Donald Bennett’s flying qualifications and experience; limitations on use of Gee navigational system, 8/1942; German homing in on H2S apparatus; two occasions when he marked target incorrectly; impact of introduction of Oboe on pathfinding; opinion of US bombing strategy; memories of Air Vice Marshal Donald Bennett. Recollections of period as staff officer with Headquarters, No 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group, Bomber Command, RAF and commading officer of RAF Warboys in GB, 3/1943-5/1945: appointment to post.

REEL 4 Continues: recruitment activities for Pathfinder Force; friction with commanding officers whose crews taken by Pathfinder Force including encounter with Wing Commander Guy Gibson; personal rivalries within senior ranks of Bomber Command; question of morality of area bombing; degree of effectiveness of bombing campaign; sight of ruined cities whilst commanding transport wing in Germany, 1945.

REEL 5 Continues: use of repeater Oboe during winter 1944-1945; degree of overkill during Allied bombing campaign of 1945; liaison role with 8th US Army Air Force; effect of introduction of North American P-51 Mustang; memories of General James Doolittle; selection to be British observer for dropping of atomic bomb and reason why Group Captain Leonard Cheshire went on mission.