What sort of men were the Pathfinders, the corps d’élite of Bomber Command? What did they do? What risks did they face? And what contribution did they make to the air war and the ultimate defeat of Germany?
By drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with surviving veterans – many speaking for the first time – and combining these with official records and exclusive access to contemporary documents and exhibits at the Pathfinder Museum at RAF Wyton, I have tried to answer these questions and more, seeking to put these men’s achievements in the context of the time.
The Pathfinder Companion, launched to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the foundation of Pathfinder Force in 1942, highlights the raids and the losses, the successes and failures, the terror and the turmoil these men endured, as well as the inevitable humour in the face of tremendous adversity.
Profusely illustrated throughout, the book shows how a poorly equipped, disparate group was forged over time into one of the most effective and devastatingly efficient fighting forces ever created. It includes stories and reminiscences not just from the Master Bombers and Long Stops – the elite of the elite controlling huge numbers of bombers over the target – but also the journeymen Pathfinder crews whose support was so essential to success and final victory.
Published by Grub Street. August 2012.