Pathfinders by Cecil Lewis
Over the course of one night in 1942, the crew members of Wellington bomber ‘P for Pathfinder’ each reflect on the paths of their own lives, as they embark on a fateful mission deep into the heart of Nazi Germany.
Cecil Lewis’ novel examines the life of every man in turn, rendering a moving account of each as not merely a nameless crew member, but as an individual with a life lived, ‘a life precious to some, or one… these men with dreams and hopes and plans of things to come’.
Over recent years I have become addicted to the Imperial War Museum Wartime Classics over recent years, and I am delighted to be able to review Pathfinders (Imperial War Museum Books) by Cecil Lewis. Originally published in 1944 and is about the crew of a Wellington bomber as they set off on a mission at the very heart of Nazi Germany.
The story of Pathfinders is each member of the crew of the Wellington bomber ‘P’ for Pathfinder they are the first to light up the target for the bomber aircraft that are following behind. But this is not going to be just another ‘sortie’ for the crew. Each member of the Wellington will take their turn at looking back over their lives as they set off on their fateful mission over Germany.
The story begins on a trawler off the coast, and they believe they have caught another mine in their nets but very quickly it turns out to be part of a Wellington bomber that never made it home. This is a poignant story that very rarely gets told. Those of the pathfinder aircraft.
The crew of ‘P’ for Pathfinder come from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and London and each has a life and through the story you get to know each of the brave crew members that never saw home again. It was based on the real life of the author as he was a fighter ace in World War One.
Each member of the crew has a reason for being a member of the Wellington bomber and how they joined up at the start of the war. This is no ordinary story of action adventure but focussed more on the personal stories of those involved. On a bomber each crew member as a set role and they must work together and trust each other and the bond on each aircraft is strong. I really enjoyed reading Pathfinders by Cecil Lewis and I found I could not put the book down as I wanted to learn more and hear of the lives of the crew. If you have read any in the previous Wartime Classics from the Imperial War Museum then you will want to add this to your collection.
My thanks to Imperial War Museum Books and Random Things Tours for the review copy of Pathfinders by Cecil Lewis
Pathfinders by Cecil Lewis is published by Imperial War Museum and is published on 20th May 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org
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