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Welcome to a page of "Mare Nostrum" of July 1945

614 PATHFINDER Squadron - ITALY
France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Roumania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Northern Italy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       "MARE NOSTRUM"
  For over a year, it can now be disclosed, pathfinder  technique was used by  205 Group of  RAF  heavy  night  bombers to lead attacks on  special  targets  in  southern  Europe.   Much  of  the brilliant success achieved by the Group - operating from airfields in  the  Foggia  area,  was  due  to 614  PFF  Squadron, the only pathfinder squadron in the Mediterranean war zone.
     From  small  beginnings  in  the  spring  of  1944,  when  the nucleus of the force was sent to Italy after training in Pathfinder technique in England, it steadily increased its efficiency in target finding until navigational errors at the end of the war  reduced to nil,  even  though  targets  were  sometimes small and difficult to locate.
    When the pathfinder force first began its operations from Italy the losses were considerable, owing in part to weather conditions over  the   mountainous   regions   and  to  the  strong   defences covering the strategic targets selected.

APPALLING WEATHER
    It flew its first mission on March 15, 1944,  to the marshalling yards at Sofia, capital of Bulgaria.Five aircraft did not return,one being shot down near  the  target  and  the  other  four  were lost  in appalling weather conditions on the return journey. 

July 1945

     In  a  normal  raid,   over   300   white-flares  on  parachutes illuminated  the  area,   followed  by  the coloured  ground target indicators.  The  position  of  these  markers  was  then  checked ready for final instructions to be given to the bomb aimers by the master bomber.

SIX MINUTES
    All illuminating and target-marking had to be carried out in six minutes,  for  the  bomber formations were timed to arrive at the end  of  that  period,  ready  for  the  attack  lasting exactly three minutes.  For  pathfinders  to be thirty seconds late in completing their task was considered a poor effort.
     When  early  raids  using  pathfinder technique failed to come up to expectations,  the force  persevered. By the end of the war, main  bomber  force operational losses, due to forced landings or crashes as result of navigational errors,  had dropped to negligible figures.
    In a raid on  the  Ploesti  oilfields,  the most strongly defended target  in  Southern  Europe,  on  the  night  of  August  9th,  two pathfinder  aircraft  were  shot down and a third so damaged that the captain  ordered  his  crew to bale out.  Four  aircrew left the Halifax,  but  the bomb  aimer  was  injured and unable to use his parachute. The captain decided to try and regain control of his /p2


 
 

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