WW2 Pathfinder Force

Flying Officer Philip John Adams DFC, from a Daws Heath Family

Short Stirling bombers 1942-43
Public Domain

The Pathfinder Force

These were special aircrews who improved navigation for the RAF bomber crews after it was found in 1942, during World War 2, that the marking of targets was unsatisfactory.

It was the job of the Pathfinders to accurately mark the targets; they also dropped bombs and incendiaries. At the time there were no computerised aids, so the Pathfinders had to use the stars as a navigational aid.

They dropped target indicators, red, green or yellow which had code names such a ‘Parramatta’, Wanganui’ and ‘Newhaven’; the names came from Australia, New Zealand and Britain as they had links with the Pathfinder staff.

The embryo Pathfinder force comprised of 4 squadrons of aircraft, each one consisted of 20 bombers. The aircraft flown by the force included Anson, Battle, Oxford, Wellington, Stirling and the famous Lancaster. The group HQ was at Huntingdon. The squadrons were Nos 7, 35, 83 and 156, collectively they formed 8 Group.

Warboys church in Cambridgeshire has a stained glass window dedicated to the bravery of the Pathfinder Force.

We are honoured to say that our eldest brother, Philip John Adams was a staff navigator with the force, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, the equivalent to the Military Cross, and reached the rank of Flying Officer. His original log book is displayed in the Pathfinder Force Collection in Wyton, Cambridgeshire.

[Ed: Their website can be found at https://raf-pathfinders.com/our-partners/pathfinder-collection-raf-wyton/ ]

During part of World War 2, the family of Adams lived in Victory Villa, Daws Heath, which has previously been mentioned in the Archives.

Ruth Chestney

Kenneth Adams

Bernard Adams

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  • I am still in contact with Fraser Chestney, a best friend from school. I know his mother Ruth very well and in fact travelled with them to USA in the 80s. Ruth still lives in Hadleigh and a family grave sits in Daws Heath church yard. Great article. Thanks.

    By Richard Burgess (03/06/2020)
  • Thanks, that was most interesting.

    By Roger Shinn (05/01/2019)
  • Very interesting

    By S.Paisley (21/12/2018)

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