Stirling Pathfinders

The first Short Stirling squadron was also a founding member of the ‘Pathfinder Force’ and flew many dangerous missions over Europe, as Tom Spencer recounts.

The pathfinder role is probably most closely associated with the Avro Lancaster, but it was the Stirling in the hands of 7 Sqn in mid-1942 that paved the way for success.

Before taking on this mission, the unit had proved its mettle over many hard months of operations. Having disbanded as a Hampden squadron to form 16 Operational Training Unit on August 7, 1940, 7 Sqn was re-formed at Leeming, Yorkshire under Wg Cdr Paul Harris. It was tasked to introduce the four-engined Short Stirling to service, an appropriate honour befitting the RAF’s senior bomber squadron.

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