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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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167 Squadron Spitfire Vc AR612 Sq/Ldr. 'Sandy' Brian John Edward Lane DFC.

Operation: Rhubarb

Date: 13th December 1942 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 167 Squadron

Type: Spitfire Vc

Serial: AR612

Code: VL-U

Base: RAF Ludham, Norfolk

Location: North Sea

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. 'Sandy' Brian John Edward Lane DFC. 37859 RAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed


Taking off at 15:10 hrs on an offensive patrol to attack railway line Moerdijk to Bergen op Zoom. Dutch coast crossed between Voorne and Goederede at 15:50 hours, the Hollandsche Diep being followed inland.

Intense tracer fire was experienced from Hellevoetsluis, Moerdijk bridge and the northern shore of the Hollandsche Diep. When 2 or 3 miles southwest of Zierikzee two Fw190’s came in astern of our aircraft in line astern. F/O. Jan Leendert Plesman 102524 RAFVR went forward to the starboard side of Sq/Ldr. Lane to draw his attention to the enemy aircraft, having failed to make R/T contact.

The enemy aircraft started firing at F/O. Plesman and Sq/Ldr. Lane at 300 to 400 yards range. F/O. Plesman saw Sq/Ldr. Lane behind an Fw190 turning inland going southeast, his position being approximately southwest of Zierikzee and as he appeared to be alright, F/O. Plesman decided to go to the help of P/O. Evans. Both these pilots spent some further time looking for Sq/Ldr. Lane but without avail. Sq/Ldr. Lane reported missing.

Above: A Group of pilots from No. 19 Squadron and No. 616 Squadron pose with two mascot dogs and a Spitfire, believed to be at RAF Duxford.
L-R On wing; Brian Jon Edward Lane DFC. 37859 (killed 13th December 1942), 'Flash' the Alsatian, 'Grumpy' George Cecil Unwin DSO. DFM. 46298 (died 28th June 2006), 'Rangy' the Spaniel, Francis Noel Brinsden NZ/40338 (died 1993).
Standing; Bernard James Jennings DFM. 47706 (died in 2002), Colin Hamilton MacFie 90657 PoW No: 1629 Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang 616 squadron, Howard Frizelle Burton DSO. DFC and bar, 33227 (killed 03rd June 1943) Philip Howard Leckrone 84653 (killed 05th June 1941) (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

According to the ORB, Sq/Ldr. Brian Lane had just completed a tour as an instructor at No. 61 OTU (Operations Training Unit). He arrived at Ludham to take over No. 167 Squadron only four days before being lost on his first operational flight with the squadron

It is thought that Oblt. Walter Leonhardt the Stafeelkapitän of 6./JG1, shot him down at 16:34 hrs 30 km west of Schouwen, his second claim of the war.

Note: F/O. Jan Leendert Plesman was killed on the 01st September 1944 whilst with 322 Dutch squadron - comprehensive further details here.

Burial Details:

Sq/Ldr. Brian John Edward Lane DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 65. Born in Pannal, Harrogate on the 18th of June 1917. Educated at St Paul’s School in Hammersmith. Entered RAF in 1936. Trained with No. 3 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School. Then posted to No. 11 Flying Training School at RAF Wittering on the 01st of June and was commissioned into the RAF General Duties Branch on the 18th of May 1936 on a short service commission.

Joined 66 Squadron at RAF Duxford on the 08th January 1937 at the rank of Pilot Officer. In June 1937 Brian Lane moved to 213 Squadron at RAF Northolt. He was promoted to Flying Officer on the 23rd of December 1938. Shortly before the outbreak of war, Brian joined 19 Squadron at RAF Duxford as an Officer Commanding 'A' Flight, flying Spitfires. During the Dunkirk evacuation in May 1940 Brian was awarded the DFC for his bravery, and his official rating as a fighter pilot classed 'exceptional'. He wrote a book about his wartime experiences under the pen name B.J Ellan.

Son of Henry Fitzgerald William Lane (died 26th July 1958, age79) and of Bessie Elinor Lane (née Hall - died 22nd August 1963, age 86) and husband of Eileen Mary Lane (shown left) (née Ellison - born 12th December 1910 - died at St Helier Hospital on the 29th July 1967 of cancer).

Eileen Lane was a famous ladies' British Grand Prix racing driver in the 1930s. Her main racing achievement came in 1932 when she won the Duchess of York's race for women drivers at Brooklands. The competitors included Elsie Wisdom (Invicta), Fay Taylour (Talbot 105) and Kay Petre (Daytona Wolseley Hornet Special). After a period of mourning, Ellison moved to South Africa around 1953 with wealthy landowner, Owen Fargus who lived in the same apartment complex as Eileen. (They never married) He owned property in the United Kingdom, in South Africa and Jersey and the couple led a jet-setting lifestyle. She remained with Fargus until her death when living at 'Boidec', La Marquanderie, St. Brelade St. Helier, Jersey.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the Air Museum of New Zealand, National Archives Kew AIR-27-1092-15/16. Kracker Luftwaffe Archives.

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 09-06-2023

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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