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Anzac Day – A day of remembrance

Anzac Day is a day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, that honours those who served and died in wars and conflicts.

In our current exhibition, Unseen Untold: Our Curious Collection, we have on display a broken wooden propeller that belonged to Edward Alexander Lane’s plane that he crashed on the grounds of Mascot Golf Club in 1938. Whilst flying did not bring Lane the success he desired, the remainder of his collection held by the Museum is reflective of his more successful military career in the Royal Australian Navy.

Lane enlisted on 12 June 1919 into the British Merchant Navy, which brought him the following year to Australia. Lane met his future wife whilst he was serving on the HMS Sydney. They married in 1925 under Jewish and civil law.

At the outbreak of World War II, Lane was prompted to join the Australian Navy as Chief Petty Officer. Despite having a booming business at the time, Lane left his family for his military service, off the back of a comment from an acquaintance that “Jews don’t fight”. Lane was shipped to England and transferred into the British Royal Navy, where the joined the British Fleet Arm, flying combat missions off carrier ships.

Lane’s service was physically demanding, and was not without its mishaps. At one point, Edward accidentally landed a plane in a field in France in incredibly foggy conditions and was temporarily grounded. Lane was also permanently deafened in one ear from a pistol being fired at his side by a fellow officer. Lane’s family attested that he certainly sustained some psychological effects from his service, experiencing bouts of depression whilst a Lieutenant in England and upon returning to Australia in the mid-1940s.

Whilst involved in the war efforts of World War II, Lane was apparently not aware of what was happening to the Jews of Europe. In the many letters that he sent to his family between 1941 and 1945, there was no mention of these matters. His determination to fight the Germans was based more on his loyalty to the ‘Empire’ than an obligation to European Jewry.