The RAF Pathfinders
The RAF Pathfinders, operational within the RAF Bomber Command during World War II, were specialied squadrons tasked with marking targets crucial for bombing missions. Using flares, they pinpointed and designated targets, enabling the primary bomber force to enhance their precision in bombing operations. These units were often the first to adopt and utilize new blind-bombing technologies like Gee, Oboe, and the H2S radar, further refining their targeting capabilities.
Initially, the Pathfinders comprised five squadrons, forming the early Pathfinder Force (PFF). In January 1943, this force expanded to establish No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group, which evolved to include 19 squadrons. While most Pathfinder squadrons and personnel were from the Royal Air Force, the group also welcomed the inclusion of No. 405 Squadron from the Royal Canadian Air Force, alongside numerous individual airmen from various Commonwealth countries’ air forces.