Pilot Officer William Thompson Lane
On 15th May 1943, 403 squadron R.C.A.F. lost two pilots while escorting a bombing mission to Poix, on Circus 297.
Pilot Officer Willian Thompson Lane was born in August, 1921, at Sudbury, Ontario. He was a member of his High School Cadet Corps and enlisted in the RCAF in December 1940. William worked “full out” during his training and was presented with his ‘wings’ on 4th October, 1941. It is noted in his RCAF file that he showed “indications of delicate health.” Nevertheless, he was sent overseas to the UK, spent roughly three weeks at No.61 Operational Training Unit and joined 402 squadron at RAF Redhill on 14th June, 1942. He was transferred to 403 squadron on 10th August, and was with them when they arrived at Kenley, on 23rd January, 1943.
On the 15th May, William, flying Spitfire IX, BR986, coded KH-Z, was shot down by Oblt. Kurt Goltzsch, in a dogfight at around 5pm. He crashed in the garden of the farm of Baron de Baulieu’s castle in Baromesnil.
Willie Lane was only 21 years old, the son of Frederick Carleton Lane, a surveyor, and Doris Thompson, of Sudbury, Ontario. They had already lost one son, William’s older brother, 25 year old Pilot Officer Carleton Thompson Lane, who had been killed in action two years previously, whilst flying as an observer with 58 Squadron in Whitley, V Z6972 GE-P on an operation to Berlin. Willie had three other brothers, all of whom were serving in the Armed Forces.
Heartbreakingly, one of them, Gordon, who was serving in the Royal Canadian Engineers, was visiting his brother at Kenley, and saw him off on his last sortie. In a masterpiece of understatement the Operations Record Book says that it was, “rather hard to have to tell him that Willie was missing.”
Bill was one of a group of friends from Copper Cliff, Sudbury, who all enlisted in the RCAF. Only days before his own death, he had received news that his friend, Don Plaunt, had been killed flying a Lancaster bomber over Essen. When Don Paunt’s Father heard the news of Bill Lane’s death, he wrote to the Department of National Defence, arguing that two deaths in one family was enough. His plea was heeded and Raymond, Bill’s youngest brother, was pulled from his unit and spent the rest of the war in Canada. Raymond resented this well-intentioned intervention and later, suffered with an alcohol problem. Willie’s Mother never recovered from the grief of losing her two boys.
Rest in Peace Sir and thank you for your service.