No. 8 (PFF) Group RAF
Active1918 - 1919
1 Sep 1941 - 28 Jan 1942
8 Jan 1943 – 15 Dec 1945
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Part ofRAF Bomber Command
Motto(s)We Guide to strike[1]
Group badgeA Mullet of eight points surmounted by an arrow enflamed, point downwards, in bend sinister[1]
The star and eight points represent the number 8 group and the astro-navigation undertaken by its crews. The flaming arrow was meant to demonstrate their Pathfinding role[2]

No. 8 Group was a Royal Air Force group which existed during the final year of the First World War and during the Second World War.

First World War

No. 8 Group was formed in April 1918 as a training unit and designated 8 Group (Training). It remained in this function throughout the rest of the war and was disbanded in May 1919.

Second World War

First formation

The Group was re-established as No 8 (Bomber) Group on 1 September 1941 only to be disbanded around five months later on 28 January 1942.

Reformation of Group 8

8 Group was re-constituted when Bomber Command's Pathfinder Force was renamed No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group on 8 January 1943.[3] The group consisted of specialist squadrons that marked targets for the main attacks of Bomber Command aircraft. The Force, which had been formed in August 1942 with five Squadrons from the existing Bomber Command Groups flying a mix of Short Stirlings, Handley Page Halifaxes, Avro Lancasters and Vickers Wellingtons. When new aircraft, such as the de Havilland Mosquito became available, 8 Group got the first ones. Its aircraft used navigation aids such as Gee, H2S and Oboe to find the targets of attack more accurately than the main force on its own could. Initially five squadrons, 8 Group ultimately grew to a strength of 19 squadrons.[4]

No. 8 Group was also responsible for the Light Night Striking Force, equipped with Mosquito bombers and used for harassing raids on Germany. It was disbanded on 15 December 1945, though its badge and motto ("We Guide to Strike") were subsequently authorized on 11 March 1953. While the majority of Pathfinder squadrons and personnel were from the Royal Air Force, the group also included many from the air forces of other Commonwealth countries. The PFF flew a total of 50,490 individual sorties against some 3,440 targets. The cost in human lives was grievous. At least 3,727 members were killed on operations and 675 aircraft lost.


February 1943[5]
February 1944[6]
22 March 1945[7]


Air Officer Commanding

1918 to 1919

1941 to 1942

1943 to 1945

See also



  1. ^ a b Moyes 1976, p. 347.
  2. ^ Delve, Ken (2005). Bomber Command 1939-1945 : a reference to the men - aircraft & operational history. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Aviation. p. 172. ISBN 1-84415-183-2.
  3. ^ Moyes 1976, p. 348.
  4. ^ Royal Air Force, Bomber Command No.8 Pathfinder Force Group Archived 26 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine, accessed December 2011
  5. ^ Falconer 2012, p. 308.
  6. ^ Falconer 2012, p. 309.
  7. ^ Falconer 2012, p. 310.