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  • The Pathfinders

  • The Elite RAF Force That Turned the Tide of WWII
  • By: Will Iredale
  • Narrated by: Richard Burnip
  • Length: 16 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Military
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (119 ratings)

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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

Military History Matters Book of the Year Bronze Award Winner 

The incredible story of the crack team of men and women who transformed RAF Bomber Command and helped the Allies deliver decisive victory over Nazi Germany.

The Pathfinders were ordinary men and women from a range of nations who revolutionised the efficiency of the Allies' air campaign over mainland Europe. They elevated Bomber Command—initially the only part of the Allied war effort capable of attacking the heart of Nazi Germany—from an impotent force on the cusp of disintegration in 1942 to one capable of razing whole German cities to the ground in a single night, striking with devastating accuracy, inspiring fear and loathing in Hitler's senior command.

With exclusive interviews with remaining survivors, personal diaries and previously classified records, The Pathfinders brings to life the characters of the airmen and women—many barely out of their teens—who took to the skies in legendary British aircraft such as the Lancaster and the Mosquito, facing almost unimaginable levels of violence from enemy fighter planes to strike at the heart of the Nazi war machine.

©2021 Will Iredale (P)2021 Penguin Audio

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A very moving story but flawed

There is hardly a better subject than this about the RAF in WW2, and the author has done his research well.

But alas, from the perspective of a 75 year who didn’t go to university but had a rigorous secondary education in English grammar/writing of a type rarely available to modern young, this book is spoiled by poor grammar (split infinitives- a great sin) and by hyperbole/imaginative text instead of letting great achievements speak for themselves. The editor is equally if not more responsible.

To set this criticism in context, read for example the War The Infantry Knew by JC Dunn (also available on Amazon), medical officer to the 2nd Bn RWF in WW1 who survived three years in the trenches. He describes in his diary dinners in behind the front line with his fellow officers, illuminating their characters wonderfully, and then a simple line about one of them in next day’s entry reads “xxx was killed in xxx trench this evening”. Nothing else, and it hits you like a sledgehammer.

I know many of you who read this book will enjoy it and be moved by it, so don’t let me put you off, but to my mind a wise guiding editor could have made this into a great book.

5 people found this helpful

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A Little known group within Bomber Command

This book is a terrific listen on audible. A story of a group formed from within Bomber command to improve on the targeting accuracy at a time when if the bombs fell within 5 miles of the target you were lucky.
The book has everything, bravery, determination, commitment, disappointment. So many human interest stories involving love and loss. The appalling casualties of bombers and bombed. The politics of the time are brought to light in what seems to me to be fair assessments. Throughout the camaraderie of the pathfinders crews shines out for us all to admire
Excellent narration
The author has brought so many stories of the men and women involved to the book that would otherwise have gone unheard.

1 person found this helpful

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Very interesting.

An interesting book, well narrated. I'm now more interested in the human rather than the technical side of units such as this and this did a fine job of telling their stories. I use such books during long drives and this certainly made the recent ones seem far shorter. It also helps me research my next model building project, an Airfix Lancaster in Pathfinder markings.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

A great book. All the personal histories made it a brilliant full telling of the story.

Perfect narration and production.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating and moving

Having no knowledge or prior interest in the Pathfinders, this excellent book opened my eyes to so much.
What a great debt we owe to these young men now almost all gone. This book told their story plus the bravery of this generation of the young men and women.
We must remember them.
It also highlighted the death and destruction of war.
The narration was perfect for this book. One certainly to listen to again.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent account of an amazing force

Very informative and interesting read, detailing the story of one of the second world wars most accomplished and courageous forces. The story of the pathfinders is expertly detailed in both the men and the organisational aspects.
Always humbled by the story of these guys.

1 person found this helpful

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Local hero’s

Growing up with RAF Warboys bordering my grandparents home, in fact my grandad farmed the land after the war, I found this story fascinating. Very little now remains, the last hanger standing has been re clad to look like an ordinary industrial unit, although the firing range wall still stands.
As a boy I often roamed the old buildings and raced up and down the runways on a rotten old moped.
The last planes to use the runway were crop sprayers, also no longer.
My other grandfather was ground crew at RAF Upwood, ultimately meeting my Nan. My wife’s uncle flew from there as a rear gunner, against the odds surviving the war.
All the pubs mentioned in Warboys are no longer. I think the Pelican was last to go, late 60s. An uncle of mine, along with his friends, helped drink the place dry.
Every old base around here has memorial Pathfinder plaques, informing newbies to the village of our proud history.

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  • Di
  • 02-06-22

Important to to tell the Pathfinders story.

As the people who fought in the Second World War pass away it is so very important that their memories and roles are recorded. I found this a complete eye opener to something unknown to me. I am well aware of the heavy bombing raids of the war and the controversy attached to it. However I had no idea of the complete story. The Pathfinders were so important to the success of the war. Their efforts were quite remarkable.

I must say I listened aghast at the details of orders “Bert” Harris ignored to pursue his own goals against Berlin.
He certainly was a difficult character.

It is a very, very interesting story and an important record of thousands of airmen and support staff. Written to include diary notes from the people who were there.
A sad listen at times but the book held my interest to the end. Excellent narration that didn’t distract from the story.

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Outstanding narration

This is an interestingly written book, presenting the events of history through telling some stories about the lives of those living through the events.
The book for me however was brought to a complete other level of engagement by the superb narration. Utterly brilliant.

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a good listen

Narration quite engaging. The author demonstrates a lack of technical knowledge or research in a couple of places but overall worth listening to.