Robert Murray Buchan, Navigation Staff Officer


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.

Andrew Murray Buchan as a new aircrew cadet, probably taken 1940. With thanks to Liz Morris.

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 of Flight Lieutenant Matheson. The aircraft was on a Frankfurt operation when it was shot down at Morkhoven in Belgium; there were four fatalities, two prisoners of war, and amazingly Matheson managed to evade capture.

  • F/Lt O R Matheson, DFC – Evader
  • Sgt P Squires – Killed, buried Morkhoven Communal Cemetery
  • F/Lt R M Buchan, DFC – Killed, buried Morkhoven Communal Cemetery
  • F/Lt J W Dicker, RAAF, PoW
  • FSgt W R Buvverley – PoW
  • Sg E V Norman – Killed, buried Morkhoven Communal Cemetery
  • Sgt H D Quintrell – Killed, buried Morkhoven Communal Cemetery

Crew member, gunner Edward Norman. Courtesy of Simon Brown.


There were inevitably casualties in PFF staff officers because of the policy which Bennett had adopted right from the beginnings of the Force:

I had laid it down as a matter of principle that all staff officers […] were required to operate moderately frequently, with my approval, in order to to ensure that they were thoroughly in touch with the day to day affairs of the Pathfinder job.[1]

Buchan’s loss was deeply regretted personally, both by Bennett – ‘it was a sad blow to lose him so early in our existence’ – and by Anderson who called him Angus and described him as: ‘a Scots lad who hated “Huns”.’[2]

[1] D C T Bennett, Pathfinder: Wartime Memoirs (Frederick Muller, London, 1958), p.178

[2] William Anderson, Pathfinders, (Jarrolds, London, 1946), p.51.

See also the undated, detailed Planehunters RecoveryTeam report on the loss of Buchan’s aircraft, which was put together by Benny Ceulaers (“with special thanks to Wim Govaerts, Luc Cox,Chris Vanhee, Thijs Hellings, Fam. Willems from Berteneinde, and Boni Wouters (+)”)