DFC, DSO. (1920
- August 3rd 1941)
Eric Lock was born in Bayston near Shrewsbury and after attending
Prestfelde School, joined his father’s quarrying firm
until the outbreak of war in 1939.
On the outbreak of war in 1939, Lock joined the Royal Airforce
Volunteer Reserve and after flying training was posted in
May 1940 to the Spitfire equipped 41 Squadron based at Catterick.
Locks first of twenty-six air combat victories was achieved
whilst at Catterick when on August 15th 1940 41 Squadron intercepted
a formation of Heinkel 111’s and Messerschmitt 110’s.
On 3rd September 1940, 41 Squadron was posted to RAF Hornchurch
to find itself in the thick of the air fighting during the
Battle of Britain. On September 5th 1940, Lock shot down three
more German aircraft, although he was himself lightly wounded.
Within a week his tally of downed German aircraft had increased
to eight and in the next three weeks he increased this score
to 15. In this time Lock had been lightly wounded once and
had had to bale out of a stricken aircraft three times. Lock’s
bravery, determination and skill earned him the DFC.
By November 8th 1940, Lock had brought his total of German
aircraft shot down to 20. On this day Lock shot down two more
German planes but was himself shot down and severely wounded.
Lock’s wounds on this occasion required almost six months
of recuperation and 15 operations to remove fragments of shrapnel.
During this period of recuperation Lock was awarded the DSO.
By this time Lock was also something of a national celebrity
as the highest scoring British pilot of the Battle of Britain
(The highest scoring RAF pilot of the Battle of Britain was
however the Czech pilot Joseph Frantisek).
In June 1941, Lock returned to active duty as a Flight Lieutenant
with 611 Squadron and had soon added four more German aircraft
to his tally, bringing it to 26. By this date the RAF was
now on the offensive and 611 Squadron’s Spitfires regularly
conducted offensive fighter sweeps over Northern France and
Flanders. It was while conducting one of these sweeps near
Calais that Locks luck ran out. Lock was last seen on 3rd
August 1940 diving to attack a column of German soldiers and
it is possible that his aircraft was hit by ground fire. Nobody
saw where he crashed and his Spitfire and his body have not
subsequently been found. He was 21 years old.