97 and 83 Squadrons (Lancaster) and 627 Squadron (Mosquitoes) of the Path Finder Force, 8 Group, were ‘loaned’ to 5 Group in April 1944 against the very strong opposition of the Pathfinders’ commanding officer, Donald Bennett. FOR MORE DETAILS, SEE: Harris and the Pathfinders
Sir Ralph Cochrane, IWM CH 14564
The squadrons were still called Pathfinders and carried out pathfinder duties. As such, they were still eligible for the full award of the Pathfinder badge and its accompanying certificate. However, they were under the full operational command of 5 Group and took no part in 8 Group operations. Their commander was now Sir Ralph Cochrane, whom Bennett did not hold in esteem. (Bennett’s low opinion of Cochrane is given very candidly in his autobiography Pathfinder, throughout which he misspells Cochrane’s name as Cochran.)
Despite his fury and dismay about the loss of his squadrons, Bennett would continue to sign the Pathfinder certificates issued to aircrew who had ceased to fly under his command.
Above: the Path Finder Force certificate awarded to Ivor Glyn Stephens in September 1944, signed by Bennett. Stephens had begun flying with 97 Squadron in 8 Group, but finished his tour with 97 Squadron in 5 Group.
Below: Stephens with an unknown crewmate at Coningsby, 5 Group.
Ivor Glyn Stephens Collection, RPA, donated by Andrea Smith.