Commemorative cover produced to mark the 60th Anniversary of the formation of the Pathfinder Force, which later became No 8 Group. The cover artwork shows the four initial Pathfinder squadrons; No 7 Squadron with equipped with Short Strilings, No 35 Squadron with the HP Halifax, No 83 equipped with the Avro Lancaster and No 156 Squadron with the Vickers Wellington. The artwork shows No 7, 83 and 156 Squadrons on the first Pathfinder Raid on their way to mark and bomb Flensburg on the 18/18 August 1942, while the bottom half of the artwork shows a Halifax of No 35 Squadron being prepared.
Although the initial raid was not a great success, given the very limited preparation and training of the newly formed force, however the Pathfinder Force was to prove an extremely important part of Bomber Command during the remainder of the war.
Each cover bears a British Forces Post Office special handstamp, dated the 17 August 2002, which shows the Pathfinder Badge and No 8 Group logo to and commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the formation of the Pathfinder Force. Furthermore the covers have been flown in Lancaster PA474 of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in a flypast over RAF Wyton, the Pathfinders HQ.
Hand signed by Air Commodore Charles Willis DSO OBE DFC
150 Signed, Numbered and Certified
Flight Lieutenant Charles Willis served with No 109 Squadron flying Wellingtons in 1941/1942 and was awarded an immediate DFC. In 1942 he joined No 1474 Flight, a specialist radio counter-measures (RCM) unit and stayed with it when it became No 162 Squadron on 4 January 1943. In November 1943 he joined the newly formed 100 (Bomber Support) Group.