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Heroes Remember

And the job with pathfinders was to go out and mark the target, they drop particular markers, either they were red or green, or whatever they were using to identify the target. They went ahead of them, the main force, they marked the targets or we had a bit more sophisticated radar equipment. And to help them identify and, and precisely mark these targets, it was a very precision type of job. One of the pilots, maybe a couple of aircraft, would act as what they called, MC's. They would literally circle, which, amongst flak and lights and night fighters, it was a precarious job. Same, don't bomb the red, bomb the green, this was the instructions to the main force which may be 1500 or 2000 airplanes. And this is what our job was, to precisely mark a target and then the rest of the force would use that as their aiming point. A good target in question, well there was many raids over Berlin, was the Peenemunde raid. Peenemunde was where they were building the rockets. You know the V-2 and the V-1 rockets. Particularly the V-2's. And our squadron was initially, was completely involved in that raid, squadron commander, marking the target. In one or two raids they completely destroyed that manufacturing and experimental development plant for the V-2 rockets which had a major, major impact on the, how long the war would last and the survival of Britain, because if they'd ever got loose with those V-2 rockets, they could have just fired them over. They didn't need manned aircraft, they didn't need aircraft fuel, they didn't need ground staff. In fact they could fire them from mobile sites, which was another problem. So wiping that out was good, and that was one of the main things with the, with our pathfinder group. We were, I guess, two years on pathfinders. Our squadron commander Johnny Fauquier was a group captain, became known as the king of the pathfinders, and he literally was. He was one the most experienced, best pilots that the air force ever turned out. And he was followed by another young fellow called Reg Lane, who just passed away just a year ago here. He again was another experienced. Johnny Fauquier had three DSOs, and two DFCs, Reg Lane had a DSO and two DFCs from decorations. But they were both experts at this pathfinding exercise. Our crews generally were experienced crews. We had very few, what I called spoiled crews come in, because they wanted the people that had bomber experience to come in, and they maybe had thirty tours, or thirty trips was a tour, then they'd start their second tour with, with pathfinders. And as I said, we were quite distinct, being the only Canadian squadron at the pathfinder group, there were fourteen squadrons in total, including a couple of Aussie squadrons, to do this type of work.

Mr. Snell talks about the pathfinders and the accomplishments of their missions.

John “Jock” Snell

John Snell was born in Calgary, in April 1920. He was the middle child of three, having an older sister and a younger brother. Mr. Snell's family lived through the depression where they survived on $85.00 a month, which had to support their family of five. After struggling as a farmer Snell's father took a job as a milkman. Mr. Snell remembers helping his father on the milk route on Saturday's so his father could join his friends in a game of cricket. Mr. Snell dropped out of school only months before finishing and pursued a career as a radio repair technician, which little to his knowledge would pave the way for his career as an instrument mechanic in the air force. He quickly rose through the ranks of the air force and at the age of twenty he became a commanding officer in charge of over thirty five men. Mr. Snell retired from the air force in December 1969, with just over 30 years of service.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John “Jock” Snell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
Flight Sergeant
Instrument Mechanic

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