Squadron Leader G V Lane DFC AFC RAFO
Sgt J Blair DFM RAFVR – 103 Squadron
Above - The air and ground crew of Acting Squadron Leader Gordon Victor Lane DFC AFC RAFO. Lane is pictured 4th from left.
The picture has been taken soon after the daring attack on the German battlecruiser Gneisenau at Brest on the 24th July 1941. 103 Sqn contributed six aircraft as part of an extensive and co-ordinated attack on German capital ships at Brest and La Pallice. The first vic of three 103 Sqn aircraft was led by Lane. They came under fierce opposition approaching the target and Lane's rear gunner, Sgt Jack Blair, (front row 2nd left) shot down a Bf109 from almost point blank range. Blair was awarded a DFM. Sgt J Bucknole and crew were shot down during the approach to the target.
Lane was a pre war regular at some stage as he was RAFO. He completed his tour with 103 Sqn at the end of August 41. Where he went then I do not know but according to the London Gazette he in the Royal Air Force Reserve of Officers ( General Duties ) in the late 50s with the rank of G/C.
He was posted to 103 Sqn from 12 OTU at Benson on the 26th May 1941
He flew as co pilot with P/O Anderson to Duisberg on the 2/3 June 1941
He then captained his own crew as follows
13-Jun-41 – Brest – Wellington - T2770? - S/L GV Lane -
16-Jun-41 – Duisburg – Wellington - R1588 - S/L GV Lane
20-Jun-41 – Kiel – Wellington - R1588 - S/L GV Lane - Could not reach primary in time and bombed flak concentrations at Sylt
30-Jun-41 – Dusseldorf - Wellington - R1588 - S/L GV Lane
03-Jul-41 – Bremen – Wellington - R1588 - S/L– GV Lane – ER - P engine U/S
07-Jul-41 – Cologne – Wellington - R1588 - S/L GV Lane - On return attacked a ship or submarine from 1000 ft. Fired 800 rounds.
08-Jul-41 – Bielefeld – Wellington - R1588 - S/L GV Lane
10-Jul-41 – Cologne – Wellington - R1588 - S/L GV Lane - Unable to locate primary. Bombed Ostend
14-Jul-41 – Bremen – Wellington - R1588 - S/L GV Lane – ER - Engine trouble
20-Jul-41 – Cologne – Wellington - R1588 - S/L GV Lane
24-Jul-41 – Brest – Wellington - R1588 - S/L GV Lane
02-Aug-41 – Hamburg – Wellington - T2617 - S/L GV Lane.
05-Aug-41 – Frankfurt – Wellington - T2617 - S/L GV Lane
07-Aug-41 – Essen – Wellington - R1446 - S/L GV Lane
14-Aug-41 – Hannover – Wellington - R1588 - S/L GV Lane
18-Aug-41 – Duisburg – Wellington - R1588 - S/L GV Lane - ER - P engine iced up. Jettisoned bombs and returned to base
27-Aug-41 – Boulogne – Wellington - X9792 - S/L GV Lane .
On the 1st Sept 1941 he was posted to RAF Snaith.
Jack Blair came from Bigrigg, Egremont in Cumbria. He rose to the rank of Squadron Leader and was also awarded a DFC. He died on the 22nd May 1944 whilst serving on Pathfinders with 156 Sqn and is buried at Molenaarsgraaf Protestant Cemetery. He was quite old for aircrew being 32 when he died.
Jack's DFM citation concludes with the words. "Sergeant Blair’s Captain, Squadron Leader Lane, gives him an excellent report and I personally consider his work, both in the air and on the ground, merit’s the award for which he is recommended. His quiet manner and determined spirit are a valuable asset in the air and have earned the complete confidence of the remainder of the crew, and the squadron as a whole”. DF
Lanes' aircraft for the Brest op was Wellington R1588 - pictured above. It came onto the 103 Sqn strength in April 41 and disappears on the 16th Dec 41. During this time it logged 34 ops. Three were early returns and two DNTOs. Amongst the pilots who flew this machine were Johnnie Tett and Reggie Fulbrook. The aircraft was then transferred to 22 OTU at Wellesbourne Mountford.
It was lost on the night of the 14/15th Sept 1942 when the OTUs were asked to provide crews for an attack on Bremen.
The Wellington must have crashed into the North Sea near Denmark. Air Gnr F/S Robert H. Galipeau RCAF was found after drifting ashore near Lakolk on the island of Rømø on 16th Oct and was laid to rest in Kirkeby cemetery on 20th Oct 1942. Dr.Hülzer from Sylt officiated at the ceremony.
Pilot, P/O Frank H. de Nevers RCAF, Observer Sgt Robert G. Hill RCAF, W/Op-Air Gnr. F/S Peter Sutherland and W/Op-Air Gnr. Sgt H. F.MacArthur RCAF have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
It should be noted that Galipeau and MacArthur were American citizens from Minnesota and Massachusetts who had joined the RCAF.
Written by David Fell with thanks to Søren C. Flensted. Also Graham Pitchfork for the photos. I think they may well have been taken by Arthur Roberts as he took quite a few whilst with 103 Squadron and that little set looks much like his style