Ebury’s W H Allen imprint is publishing The Pathfinders by Will Iredale.
Following Iredale's last book, The Kamikaze Hunters (2015), about British efforts in the Pacific War, The Pathfinders will tell the untold story of the elite force that spearheaded almost every British bombing raid over Nazi Germany in the last three years of the war.
Iredale said he felt the efforts of The Pathfinders had been "overlooked". Using pioneering devices including radio and precision bombing radar, they dropped coloured flares – built with the help of Britain’s fireworks industry–to mark targets so follow-up bombers had an aiming point through cloud, smoke and haze. Together they transformed the hit rate in the RAF’s Bomber Command from 24% in August 1942 to 96% by 1945.
In the book will be interviews with remaining survivors, personal diaries, previously classified records and previously unseen photographs. It will also be "a character-rich story", bringing to life the people who fought for their lives in the likes of the Lancaster and the Mosquito in the Second World War.
"They were ordinary men and women—most still in their teens—thrown into extraordinary circumstances against the backdrop of the most devastating conflict in living memory," said Iredale. "Now all in their late 90s or older, this is the first time many have publicly spoken about their experience—for all, it will most probably be the last. And with the 80th anniversary of The Pathfinder’s formation approaching in 2022—and the last living link to the handful of survivors just a few years from being broken forever—the time is now right for the first major account of their contribution. I'm really pleased to be working with Jamie and W H Allen to tell their story."
Joseph said: "The story of The Pathfinders is instantly gripping and features an amazing assortment of characters and stories. Will is perfectly placed to do justice to the real heroes involved and I expect this book to inspire and entertain readers everywhere."
W H Allen editorial director Jamie Joseph bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Veronique Baxter at David Higham. Publication is planned for summer 2021.