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[News cuttings]

Gong famine
There is trouble in Room 507 at the Air Ministry, Kingsway. They are running out of medals because of the shortage {yes – labour and materials again}, only five Royal Air Force DSOs will be able to attend the next investiture to collect their gongs. And the supply of DFCs has completely dried up. A few weeks ago I told the story of a DFC winner who, after waiting two years for his medal, went to Kingsway and collected it – from a drawerful of them. Since then dozens of young officers have been along to Room 507 to collect. Now the bottom of ther drawer is plainly visible, and the AM are anxious to stop the flow.

Still waiting
They sent an SOS to the Pathfinder Association to ask them not to send any more members on the gong hunt. The secretary Flight Lieutenant G A Thorne, listened with an interested ear. He was awarded the DFC in 1944 and the DSO a year later. And he is still waiting for them. He was told that the Air Ministry has only caught up with the middle of 1944 – and that there were hundreds ahead of him. Flight Lieutenant Thorne estimates that less than 3 per cent of the Pathfinders 3,000 members have received their medals.

Fairy Godfather
I believe Dr J C MacGowran is the only eye specialist who has won a DFC. He won it flying “for professional reasons” on operations with the PFF spearhead over Germany. Now I hear, he is playing Fairy Godfather to the Pathfinders’ Association, of which he is one of the founders. He has offered them as headquarters the whole of the ground floor of a block of service flats he has just bought in Whitehorse Street, off Piccadilly. With it goes the use of a basement restaurant. Moving in will be held up for a month or two while war damage is repaired.

Proving its point
The Pathfinder Association has already self helped 400 of its ex-aircrew members into civilian jobs at salaries between £250 and £1,000 a year during its short existence, I am told. Its appointments bureau is now handling more than 1,000 letters a month, plus innumerable telephone calls. Dr JC MacGowan DFC, its chairman tells me the PA is proving the point that courage and determination are qualities equally useful to a civilian boss as to a bomber force.

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