Pathfinder walk RAF 100 year celebration which came through Elsworth

As part of the RAF 100 celebrations, the annual Pathfinder March took place on Saturday 23rd June, continuing the RAF Wyton tradition of commemorating the Pathfinder Force (PF) that operated during WWII.

Just under 170 participants braved the heat across the 46 mile route with 17 running the event individually or as part of a relay team. The walkers set off in the early hours with the runners following a few hours later.

First to receive their medals were runners Simon Margot and George Margot, completing the course in a total time of 6 hours and 22 minutes. The first walker back was Colin Arnold in a time of 11 hours and 20 minutes. For the relay entrants, first running team back were the Traffic Light Harriers and first walking team back were the True Blue Squad.

Participants and volunteers were supported at checkpoints by the WWII Pathfinder Veteran Flt Lt (Ret’d) Colin Bell, a Mosquito pilot on the PF from 1943-1945. He was joined by RAF Wyton Station Commander, Wg Cdr Rachel Dixon, and family members of other PF veterans. Vicki Michelle from the famous 1980s sitcom Allo Allo joined the celebrations, supporting marchers and volunteers at RAF Wyton and across the course.

We were extremely fortunate and humbled to have WWII Pathfinder Veteran Flt Lt Bell at the finish line to present medals and certificates. Colin said: “The Pathfinder March is a fitting celebration of the men of the Pathfinder Force and participating or volunteering is a great way of commemorating those that served as part of it; I look forward to being here next year for another great day”.

The march was also supported by local businesses and marked by a Dakota fly past.

During WWII there was a cluster of PFF airfields in our area. The PFF were target-marking squadrons in RAF Bomber Command. They located and marked targets with flares, which a main bomber force could aim at, increasing the accuracy of their bombing.

The Pathfinder Force operated out of RAF Wyton, RAF Gravely, RAF Oakington, RAF Warboys and their satellite bases from 1942 to 1945. Flying Halifaxes, Lancasters, Mosquitos, Stirlings and Wellingtons, the Force had twenty squadrons and flights in the three years of its existence including the Light Night Strike Force.