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Lang, Andrew (1889–1924)

Andrew Lang, n.d.

Andrew Lang, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 June 1924

Andrew Lang, whose contributions on motor matters and aviation, under the nom de plume of "Gnome," have for many years been familiar to Review readers, has died in harness—at the wheel in an attempt to create a 24 hours' distance record. In a dense fog, at 5.30 in the morning of 21st May, after covering 482 miles in 13½ hours, he crashed into a fence about six miles from Camperdown, in the Western District of Victoria. His death was probably instantaneous.

An utter stranger to fear, in the air, in a racing car, he had risked death a thousand times, and if his end was to come, be it soon or late, the manner in which he met it was probably as he most would have wished it. As his cousin, P. H. Lang, of Titanga, Lismore, Vic., writes us: —"A real good sportsman, he met his death at the sport he loved, with a plucky heart, and in the full flush of life. He started from Lismore at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, 20th May, his route covering some of the best roads on the Western Plains."

It was a beautiful still autumn evening when he left, and later on a clear moonlight night, so he made wonderful time, and everything looked hopeful. However, in the early hours of the morning a thick fog came up. In spite of this he determined to carry on, and started at 5.15 a.m. on the sectional run from Lismore to Camperdown—his return run from Camperdown was timed to reach Lismore again at about 6.15 a.m.

"As he failed to arrive to time at the control station the observation car left for Camperdown to try to locate him along the road, and found him dead on the roadside; pinned underneath the car, at a turn in the road which he had overrun in the thick fog.

"One often hears the opinion expressed that the result achieved in lowering a record of this sort is not commensurate with the risk involved. However, whether that be so or not, if it were not for men of his stamp, who are ready to run a race with death, the world would not be where it is in motoring, aviation, exploration, &c. Anyway, one feels that his was a very gallant end—having started the run and knowing the risks, he determined to see the job through."

Of a restless, roving disposition, he sought eagerly and always for the activity of the outdoor life rather than the steady soberness of an existence circumscribed by the lines of routine. An engine was his love, and his mechanical bent was developed to an extraordinary degree. Once at the wheel of a car its engine would yield its utmost to him, and many are those amongst country readers of the Review who have had occasion to thank the almost magical instinct that suggested the correct diagnosis of the most stubborn "case" in the way of obstreperous knocks and other car ailments.

A cheery soul, an ardent lover of God's great open air, I shall miss sadly his constant visits, just "dropped in" after a strenuous Motor Reliability Trial of 1000 miles, or a long flight along the coasts of Australia on aerial research or exploratory work, or perhaps just an ordinary picnic motoring jaunt through two or three States, full of enthusiasm—not over his performances—but for the beauty of nature and the joy of living the outdoor life.

Now he has gone, in the full of his youth, and father and son will be reunited after but a very short space, for Andrew Lang was a son of Dr. W. H. Lang ("Fife and Drum"), of beloved memory. For them there are the Elysian fields. It is to his sister and brother that our deepest and sincerest sympathy goes out in this dark hour.

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Citation details

'Lang, Andrew (1889–1924)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/lang-andrew-1333/text1329, accessed 7 December 2021.

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Andrew Lang, n.d.

Andrew Lang, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 June 1924