Comments by readers!
Like this one in 2017 about a Spitfire pilot who I knew little about.
Thank you for this valuable information. Bill was one of three best friends who signed up for the RCAF in May, 1941 from his hometown of Sudbury. All three wanted to be pilots and they got their wish: Bill in a Spitfire, Syd Smith in a Wellington and my uncle, Donald Plaunt, in a Lancaster. Syd was the only one to survive the war, although he was shot down over France and fortunately escaped through Gibraltar. He wrote his autobiography (Lifting the Silence) in which Bill Lane was included, along with my uncle. I wrote a biography of my uncle (Write Soon and Often) and included much on Bill and Syd, however, I wished I had found more about Bill. I knew he was killed five weeks after my uncle and was the second son in his family to have been killed. I wanted to add a Tribute section to my website to my uncle’s crew and his two friends, so I hope you don’t mind that I included a link to your website. Merci beaucoup
William Thompston Lane is on these two group photos from the collection of airframe mechanic Robert Brookes.
The first one is still undated.
This one is most probably dated 21 March, 1943.
From RCAF 403 Squadron’s ORBs
Saturday, 15 May, 1943
The weather was sunny and warm with cloud in the morning that cleared off by noon. Circus 297: S/L Magwood led the Wing as high Cover to 12 Bostons bombing Poix. Rendezvous was made at Bexhill on the deck and the French coast was crossed at Le Touquet. Good Bombing results were seen with bursts coming up from dispersed buildings and alongside the runway. All of the bombers were seen in and out safely. Enemy reaction was first seen around Senaipoint after the bombing, with between six and eight e/as coming in fairly close. Between 30 and 40 e/a were seen, mostly 109s, and all some distance below at around 17,000 feet. F/L MacDonald, leading blue Section, climbed to cover Red Section which had turned port to attack two 190s. At this time, he saw two 109s below his starboard wing and he dived onto the rear one giving a short burst of cannon from 200 yards or less. Strikes were seen on the engine, cockpit and fuselage before the e/a was seen falling to pieces with both wings crumpling. F/L MacDonald claims this e/a as destroyed. F/L MacDonald then attacked a 109 from 300 to 400 yards, seeing strikes on the port wing tip. F/O MacKay saw further damage before the e/a rolled off to port and down. F/L MacDonald claims this e/a as damaged. At this point, F/L L.B. Madden, Blue 2, who was on his first sortie, dove down, apparently after the damaged 109. He was called back by his Flight Commander, F/L MacDonald, but made no reply. The rest of the Section orbited the spot briefly but were forced to take evasive action from further attacks. No more was seen or heard from F/L L.B. Madden. P/O Aitken and P/O Lane, Yellow 3 and 4, were split up from the rest of their Section on attacking two pairs of 109s which were alone. Shortly after this, 12 109s, flying in our Spitfire formation, attacked P/O Lane and P/O Aitken. They evaded them by turning and climbing rapidly. Then one 109 and four 190s, flying in star formation, suddenly attacked from port and behind. P/O Aitken broke to port and into them while P/O Lane evidently broke to starboard. This was the last time P/O W.T. Lane was seen or heard of. One e/a destroyed and one damaged for the loss of two pilots. Up at 1615 hours and down at 1755 hours. The Sections were as follows:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
F/L MacDonald S/L Magwood F/L Godefroy
F/L Madden F/O Brannagan F/S Shouldice
F/O MacKay F/L McNair F/O Aitken
P/O McWilliams F/O Conrad P/O Lane
Considerable heavy flak was thrown up over the target area, evidently aimed off to one side of 403 Squadron. A considerable amount of non-operational flying was carried out and other operational sortie and scramble were done. The Squadron was visited by W/C L.S. Ford, DFC & Bar, F/O Hingle and S/L Thompson (RCAF HQ). S/L L.V. Chadburn was posted to 402 Squadron to lead the Squadron, replacing S/L Bud Malloy DFC. LAC Roberts (Hosp/Asst) arrived from 3 PRC Bournemouth. P/O W.T. Lane’s brother, Gordon (RCE) was here when Willie took-off. It was rather hard to have to tell him that Willie was missing.