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MF4 The Formation of the Pathfinder Force signed Warrant Officer Alex Duke
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 Warrant Officer Alex Duke
62 Signed, Numbered and Certified

Having trained as a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner, Alex Duke joined No 156 Squadron in early 1942. On 18 August 1942 he took part in the first Pathfinder Force Raid on Flensburg, as front gunner aboard Wellington X3832. He rejoined No 156 Squadron in November 1943, now converted to Lancasters. He took part in the Battle of Berlin, flying there eight times between 26 November 1943 and 24 March 1944. On 1 April 1944 he joined the newly formed No 582 Squadron PFF where he completed his tour of operations.

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