Great Shelford spitfire mystery

The mystery of a plane that crashed in Great Shelford in World War 2 has been solved.

The Spitfire was being flown by the well-known racing driver Alfred Fane. Fane competed in the 1935 & 1937 Le Mans 24hr races.

At the outbreak of WW2 he enlisted in the RAFVR (Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve) as a pilot and attained the rank of Flight Lieutenant. It was whilst attached to 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit RAFVR that after flying his Spitfire back from a mission in France, he fatally crashed at Great Shelford.

It is believed he was following the railway line as a means of navigating his way at low level in bad weather back across to RAF Benson in Oxfordshire when the plane crashed near Great Shelford. He sadly perished in the accident.

"In the Frazer Nash archives in Henley, I found the answer in a letter to AFP Fane's wife shortly after the accident flight," said author Tony Hoskins.

"It seems that Fane was following the railway line and that the weather was getting to the point where onward flight was not sensible.

"He throttled back, lowered the landing gear and turned to the west searching for Duxford. It appears from the report though that in making that right hand turn, his wingtip clipped a power line alongside the railway which turned him towards the ground and he impacted into the side of the railway embankment “near Great Shelford Station”.

"So this would explain why no land owners are aware of a Spitfire crash on their land, as the accident actually occurred on railway land.

"I’ll keep on searching, but with it narrowed down to being exactly on the railway line, it might jog a few more memories locally."

“I’m writing a book that features Fane and really wanted to pin down where his aeroplane came to rest, who recovered it, and if there were any photos at the time of the wreck.

“Anybody who you think might be able to help locally to you I would really appreciate getting in touch with.”

Tony can be contacted at