An excellent WW1 Royal Flying Corps Military Cross Group, to Lt Lane, Shot down by a German Ace who was also killed by Lt Lane during the same action.“Lieutenant Lane, although seriously wounded in the leg during the combat, shot down and killed 20 ‘kill’ German Ace Walter Goettsch 10 April, 1917”.
Military Cross (GVR); British War and Victory Medals (2nd/Lieut. W.I.E. Lane R.A.F.), WW2 Defence Medal. (Defence medal in box of issue)
Military Cross Supplement to the London Gazette, 26 July 1918.
T./2nd Lt. William Ivor Emms Lane, General List, attached R.A.F.
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. While on artillery patrol, he was attacked by nine hostile triplanes. He at once opened fire, and shot down one, which fell in the enemy lines. Although seriously wounded in the leg, he continued, with the greatest gallantry to engage the enemy, shooting down a second scout, which fell in our lines. Throughout the fight he displayed exceptional skill in handling his machine, and a magnificent determination to get at close quarters with his opponents”
The following from the National Archives:
Annexe to 5th Brigade Summary of Work dated 11/4/18.
2. “Lt.Taylor (pilot) and Lt. Lane (Observer), No. 52 squadron, about 12.45 pm. On the 10th inst., were attacked by several Triplanes. The observer fired at one which was seen to fall out of control near our front line”.
3. “Lt. Lane was then wounded in the leg, but continued to fire and succeeded in shooting down a second triplane in flames. This E.A. fell in our lines near the BOIS DE GENTELLES”.
RAF Communiqué number 2:
“Lieutenant H.L. Taylor & Lieutenant W.I.E. Lane, 52 Sqn, Fokker DrI out of control and Fokker DrI in flames [by Lane] Bois de Gentelles – Lieutenant H.L. Taylor & Lieutenant W.I.E. Lane, No 52 Squadron, were attacked by nine E.A. triplanes, one of which they shot down out of control, and although wounded, Lieutenant Lane continued to fire and succeeded in shooting down a second triplane in flames. This E.A. fell in our lines near the Bois de Gentelles; Ltn d R Walter Göttsch, Jasta 19, KIA, G.163”.
Lieutenant Walter Göttsche was the leader of Jasta 19 squadron, had attacked Taylor and Lane’s R.E.8 biplane (BE6641) close to Amiens with high hopes of making it his 20th “kill”. The R.E.8 (nicknamed the “Harry Tate” after a successful music hall comedian of the time) was no match for the Fokker DR.1 triplane, also favoured by the famous German ace Baron Manfred von Richthofen (who incidentally also died after being shot down over Amiens just 11 days after Göttsche’s demise).
Taylor and Lane’s R.E.8 had started to descend towards the ground rapidly after being hit in several successful attacks by Göttsche who was flying his distinctive Fokker DR.1 triplane with a white swastika on the fuselage and the upper surface of the top wing painted white. In an attempt to finish off the British biplane, Göttsche also descended in pursuit, but was hit by the retaliatory fire from Lt. Lane’s Lewis gun. The German triplane crashed into the ground behind the Allied lines and Göttsche was killed on impact. His triplane was damaged but not destroyed and was captured by the British and used as aircraft number 163G.
Taylor and Lane meanwhile managed a hard, emergency landing in the RE.8 and they survived. The Germans claimed Göttsche’s final air battle as his 20th “kill”, but since he himself was shot down and killed, and the R.E.8 flown by Taylor was damaged but not destroyed, it is a fine distinction.
Walter Göttsche was born on the 10th June 1896 at Altona, near Hamburg and was 21 years of age when he died. He had started the war as a soldier in the trenches, but had managed to persuade his superior officers of his suitability as an airman.
In the event, his desire to kill off a weaker opponent cost him his life. It is hard to feel sorry for him.