I have been researching the Second World War, the RAF, and the aftermath of the war for twenty-five years now. The photograph below is of my first visit in 1996 to see what was left of RAF Station Bourn where my father Peter Mack, a wireless operator in the elite Path Finder Force, was stationed in late 1943. The man I am talking to is Jim Hansford, a local resident who knew much about the old wartime station.
Posts on the PER ARDUA site are more wide-ranging than the other two sites I work with: RAF Pathfinders Archive and AFTERMATH: Missing Research & War Graves, WWII. PER ARDUA posts range far into the peace, covering among other subjects the search for missing airmen and the changing public view of Bomber Command’s campaigns.
In 2016 I completed my doctorate at the University of Exeter, my thesis being on the British and their dead servicemen in North-West Europe after the Second World War. I was extremely fortunate to have the renowned historian Professor Richard Overy as my supervisor.
In a previous incarnation I was Founder and Managing Editor of the Gothic Society, writing, editing and designing publications such as The Goth, Udolpho, and many others too numerous to mention here.
Since 2001 I have run the website: ‘The Path Finder Force and 97 Squadron’, which has now become a charity, the RAF Pathfinders Archive. The aims of the Archive are to present an in-depth picture of what life – and death – were like in RAF Bomber Command and the Pathfinders. We are mainly a digital archive but work in partnership with the Pathfinder Collection, Heritage Centre, RAF Wyton, which displays our most valuable physical artefacts, including the Deverill Collection.
My books on the history of the Second World War are:
- ‘Fire By Night, The Story of One Pathfinder Crew and Black Thursday, 16th/17th December 1943 (Grub Street, 2000 and 2011)
- ‘Major Cotterell and Arnhem: A War Crime and a Mystery’ (Spellmount, 2012)
- ‘This is WAR! The Diaries and Journalism of Anthony Cotterell, 1940-1944’ (Spellmount, 2013).
These books were published under my former name Jennie Gray. I have recently changed my pen name to Jennie Mack Gray due to the very unfortunate coincidence that my name, with exactly the same spelling, is also that of someone convicted in a child murder case.
My latest publications under Jennie Mack Gray are:
- Ernest Deverill – “A Knight of the Air”
- The Mass Funerals at Cambridge, 22 December 1943