Pathfinder Collection

Pathfinder Collection

Welcome to the Pathfinder Collection Home Page

The Pathfinder Collection housed at Royal Air Force Wyton near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire is a memorial and testimony to the airmen of No 8 Pathfinder Group of Bomber Command during World War II, the RAF’s only officially recognized elite force and commemorates that organization and those who gave so much in achieving its goals.

Following the disastrous initial two years of the offensive bombing campaign against Germany, in August 1942 Winston Churchill ordered Bomber Command to form an organization, which would be known as the Path Finder Force (PFF). The Commander-in-Chief (CinC) Bomber Command, Air Marshal Arthur Harris based the fledgling PFF within the 109 Squadron administrative area of No 3 Group and ordered each of his groups to “contribute” a bomber squadron. The HQ for the PFF was set up in the station HQ at RAF Wyton on the 15 August 1942 under the command of newly promoted Group Captain D C T Bennett. Each of the Bomber Command Groups provided the following squadrons:- 1 Group - No. 156 Squadron (equipped with the Vickers Wellington and based at RAF Warboys), 2 Group - No. 109 Squadron - then "special duties" - (equipped with a mix of Vickers Wellington and de-Havilland Mosquito on OBOE testing and based at RAF Wyton), 3 Group - No. 7 Squadron (equipped with the Short Stirling and based at RAF Oakington), 4 Group - No. 35 Squadron (equipped with the Handley Page Halifax and based at RAF Graveley) and 5 Group - No. 83 Squadron (equipped with the Avro Lancaster based at RAF Wyton). The Pathfinders were tasked with leading the main bomber force to 156 Squadron locate, then accurately mark enemy targets prior to their arrival. By the time the war in Europe finished in May 1945, No 8 Pathfinder Group had grown in size to number 9 Lancaster and 11 Mosquito squadrons along with the PFF Navigation Training Unit and 1409 Meteorological flight, occupying 10 airfields, chiefly in Cambridgeshire. Their efforts undoubtedly contributed to the successful destruction
of key targets and ultimately helped Britain win the war.

The Pathfinder Collection proudly displays one of the largest unpublished collections of PFF photographs in existence, together with many items of memorabilia associated with the PFF. In addition, many aviation items are on display, not only equipment but also items recovered from the crash sites of many World War Two aircraft. Where possible, these are displayed together with photographs of the crew concerned and details of the aircraft loss.

Opening Times

The Collection is housed at RAF Wyton and is run by military personnel as a Secondary Duty and civilian volunteers, therefore does not have fixed opening times and all visits are by appointment only. However visits can be arranged during the working week, evenings or at weekends as follows: for ex Pathfinders and/or their families we offer private tours at a time convenient to them. We can accommodate all other veterans at a mutually agreed time suitable to all those involved. Further to these individuals/groups, we are pleased to welcome a variety of organised groups, societies, cadet forces and schools to visit the collection, again at a convenient time. All groups are restricted to a maximum of 25 attendees.

In addition to our static display, the collection offers a ‘travelling road show’ in the form of, a formal PowerPoint® based presentation for organised groups and societies (generally at their regular meeting place) and/or a fixed display consisting of artifacts and photographic media, for indoor meetings and events or outdoor occasions such as air shows, open days and community events.

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