The remarkable Battle of Britain experiences of Spitfire pilot Brian Lane, DFC. Brian Lane was only 23 when he when he wrote his dramatic account of life as a Spitfire pilot during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. Lane was an 'ace' with six enemy 'kills' to his credit and was awarded the DFC for bravery in combat. The text is honest and vibrant, and has the immediacy of a book written close the event, untouched, therefore, by the doubts and debates of later years. Here we can read, exactly what it was like to 'scramble', to shoot down Messerschmitts, Heinkels, Dorniers and Stukas and how it felt to lose comrades every day. Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC was t only an exceptional fighter pilot but likewise a gifted leader, at all levels. In what was still a hierarchical and class conscious culture, 'Chiefy' Lane was different: he knew everyone under his command by first names, matter how lowly their rank or status, and in the air he was always unflappable, calmly making the right tactical decision and in the process earning unlimited respect amongst pilots and aircrew. All these years later the survivors still speak of him with an unparalleled affection and respect bordering upon a holy reverence. High drama has never before been so characteristically understated, written, as it was, by the 'Finest of the Few'.
Brian Lane came from Pinner in Middlesex. A former pupil of St Paul's who, having been sacked from his job in a light bulb producing factory, was accepted for a Short Service Commission in the RAF in 1936. He joined his first fighter squadron, No 66, flying Gauntlet biplanes at Duxford, in 1937. He fought over Dunkirk and throughout the Battle of Britain and at its peak he was made squadron leader of 19 Squadron after his CO was shot down and killed. He wrote his memoir in 1941 and published it under the pseudonym, 'B. J. Ellan' as Spitfire! The Experiences of a Fighter Pilot. It was a short-lived bestseller, the publisher at the time couldn't get enough paper from the War Ministry. He made his last combat flight on 13th December 1942, and was shot down over the cold and inhospitable North Sea, which became Brian Lane's only shroud and last resting place. Dilip Sarkar has been fascinated by the Battle of Britain since childhood, he remains both moved and inspired by the story of Churchill's fabled Few, those young airmen who stood between freedom and a Britain dominated by Nazi Germany. Since the 1970s he has met and interviewed more Battle of Britain pilots than any other historian. He has researched the subject thoroughly and has published over thirty books, titles which include the only biographical works formally endorsed by the families of both Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader and Air Vice-Marshal Johnnie Johnson. In 2003, Dilip was made an MBE for services to aviation history, and elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society in 2006. He lives in Worcester. For more information please see www.dilipsarkarmbe.co.uk.