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 Flight Lieutenant E.E. Stocker DSO DFC C.Eng M.I.Mech.E
300 Signed, Numbered and Certified
Flight Lieutenant E.E. Stocker DSO DFC C.Eng M.I.Mech.E, who joined No 35 Squadron in May 1941 as a Flight Engineer on Halifax Mk1s, in January 1942 posted to No 102 Squadron before volunteering for the Pathfinder Force and joining No 35 Squadron PFF at RAF Graveley in August 1942. Later served with Nos 7 and 582 Squadrons PFF equipped with Lancasters. Awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1945 for completing a staggering 100 operations with Halifax and Lancaster bombers.