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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. B J E Lane


Brian John Edward Lane was born in Harrogate on 18th June 1917, the son of Henry Fitzgerald William Lane and Bessie Elinor Lane (nee Hall).

He was educated at St. Paul's School. In 1935 he lost his job as a supervisor in an electric bulb factory and applied for a short service commission in the RAF.

Provisionally accepted, he began his training at 3 E&RFTS Hamble on 22nd March 1936, went on to 11 FTS Wittering on 1st June and then joined 66 Squadron at Duxford on 8th January 1937.



Lane was posted to 213 Squadron on 8th March 1937 when it reformed at Northolt. He was with the squadron until 11th September 1939, when he joined 19 Squadron at Duxford as a Flight Commander.

In early 1940 in Cambridge he married Eileen Mary Ellison (1910-1967). She was a well-known racing driver in the Thirties, winning the Duchess of York's race for women drivers at Brooklands in 1932 in her white Type 37 Bugatti, the second placed car was just 5 yards behind.

She performed well in the long difficult hill-climbs that were popular in Europe at the time.

The 19 Squadron CO, S/Ldr. GD Stephenson, was shot down and taken prisoner on 26th May 1940 and Lane took temporary command.


Above: Lane (centre) shortly after a sortie


On the 26th he claimed a Ju87 and a Me109 destroyed and a Me109 probably destroyed and on 1st June a probable Me110. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 30th July 1940). On 24th August Lane claimed a Me110 destroyed. He was given command of the squadron on 5th September after the CO, S/Ldr. PC Pinkham, had been killed.

Lane claimed a Me110 destroyed on the 7th, destroyed two more and damaged a He111 on the 11th and probably destroyed a Me109 on the 15th.

Lane was shot down by a Hurricane on 8th November and made a forced-landing at Eastchurch. He shared in the destruction of a Me110 on 15th November. Posted away from 19 Squadron on 20th June 1941, Lane went to HQ 12 Group, Watnall on staff duties.

He was posted to Air HQ Western Desert on 28th January 1942, moving to HQ RAF Middle East on 13th February. In July 1942 Lane returned to the UK and on 16th September he went to 61 OTU Montford Bridge for a Spitfire refresher course.

On 9th December 1942 Lane took command of 167 Squadron at Ludham. Four days later he was up in the morning for a familiarisation flight then in the afternoon Lane took off, in Spitfire Vc AR612 'U', with three other pilots for a Rhubarb operation over Holland. They got into combat with Fw190s. It is believed that he was shot down into the sea near Zierikzee, Schouwen island. Despite an extensive search he was not seen again.

He is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 65.

Lane was the author of the book 'Spitfire', published under the pseudonym of B J Ellan in 1942.


Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner.

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