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‘A Ruddy Awful Waste’, will be launched in Dorrington on 16 July 2016. Published by Fighting High, it tells Flt Lt Eric Lock’s full story for the first time. The biography is written by 41 Squadron’s Historian, Steve Brew, with Mike Bradbury, a Shrewsbury resident who is related to Lock.
In early 1939, 19-year-old Bayston Hill resident Eric Lock joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve to fulfil his dream of flying. Within eighteen months, he found himself pitted against one of the largest air forces in the world, fighting for the survival of his homeland. It was a pivotal battle that, if lost, had the potential to change the course of world history.
Lock was posted to his first operational unit, 41 Squadron, in late June 1940, just prior to the commencement of the Battle of Britain. Displaying a natural aptitude for aerial combat in his Spitfire, a number of spectacular victories quickly ensued and Lock became an Ace within four weeks of his first operational sortie.
For a period during the thick of the Battle of Britain in September 1940, he even maintained a 100 per cent strike rate: one victory for every operational sortie he had flown. In mere weeks, Lock rose from anonymity to become a household name and hero of the nation. He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross in September 1940, another in October, and a Distinguished Service Order in November.
Lock claimed twenty confirmed victories during the Battle of Britain, and was the top-scoring RAF Ace of the campaign. He subsequently claimed at least another five victories. This did not come without a price and Lock was seriously wounded in action in November 1940. Hit in three limbs by rounds fired from a German fighter, he underwent three skin grafting operations and spent six months recuperating.
Lock returned to front line operations with 611 Squadron in summer 1941, but failed to return from a routine patrol to France only six weeks later. He was just 22 years old.
Chief of Staff (Operations), Permanent Joint Headquarters, Air Vice-Marshal Gary Waterfall CBE RAF, wrote the Foreword. He said, “Lock’s life and career are a worthy focus, particularly when one considers all he achieved in his brief life.”
“As a serving senior officer and fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force and as a former Officer Commanding 41 Squadron, I feel a certain affinity with Eric Lock and a sense of awe of all he achieved in his tragically short life,” he said.
Lock was a man who made an impact and left a legacy. A Bayston Hill street is named after him, as is a Troop of the 1st Bayston Hill Scout Group. The Lock Lounge Café at Sleap Aerodrome is also named in his honour.
RAF Coningsby based 41 Squadron will mark one of its Typhoon aircraft to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Lock’s death this year. It will bear the name ‘Flt Lt Eric Lock’ and have its tailfin marked with ‘EB-G’ to represent the Spitfire that Lock was flying on 5 September 1940 when he claimed three enemy aircraft destroyed on a single sortie. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is also currently flying a Spitfire marked up similarly as EB-G to honour Lock. It is the world’s oldest airworthy Spitfire.
‘A Ruddy Awful Waste’ is the definitive account of the brief life of this very brave young Shropshire airman, and will cement his place as one of Britain’s true national heroes.
The book will be officially launched at Dorrington Village Hall at 14:00 on 16 July 2016. Guests will include the Officer Commanding No. 41 Squadron RAF, who will be speaking at the event.
NOTE TO EDITORS - Subject to weather and operational conditions, 41 Squadron will provide a flypast with Typhoon and Tornado aircraft during the launch as a salute to Flt Lt Lock.