WW2 SAAF Pilot drives for show and putts for dough – Lt. Bobby Locke

With a very special Masters finishing this weekend and Sergio Garcia achieving what has become one of golf’s truly special wins (especially on fellow Spaniard Seve Ballesteros’  birthday)  .. I am now reminded of a very famous South African golfer and war veteran – Bobby Locke, seen here taking some time off at a Services Golf Tournament held in Rome.

When World War 2 interrupted Locke’s burgeoning career as a golfer, he joined the South African Air Force as a bomber pilot, serving in both the Mediterranean and the Western Desert theatres of combat.

At the end of the war Locke returned to golf, famously playing in a series of matches in the USA against Sam Snead.  Bobby Locke’s legacy is remarkable, triumphant and tragic. He was a four-time Open Champion Champion and winner of 72 professional tournaments, but a car accident in 1960 damaged him physically and mentally and had an ultimately devastating affect on his wife and daughter.

In terms of the game of golf Locke quickly realised: “No matter how well I might play the long shots, if I couldn’t putt, I would never win”.  He therefore became a magnificent putter, in many people’s opinion (including Gary Player’s) the best there has ever been.

His unorthodox playing style translated to his putting, trapping the ball and imparting a hooking, top spin to it.  He later coined the often used golfing maxim: “You drive for show but putt for dough”.

It was on the greens that this remarkable South African truly excelled. He used an old rusty putter with a hickory shaft and employed his unorthodox technique, echoing his wider approach to life. He was an extrovert who sported baggy plus fours with shirt and tie on course. He liked singing music-hall numbers and played the ukulele.

Bobby – or “old muffin face” as he was known (because he never changed expression) was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1977.  He was only the second non-USA or United Kingdom entrant after his fellow South African Gary Player (1974) to be inducted.

Featured photograph above shows: Lieutenant Bobby Locke whilst serving in the South African Air Force, playing a shot while Private Tommy Bolt, the American golfer looks on – note: on this occasion as he is in the Air Force he is not playing in his legendary baggy plus fours.

Feature image – Imperial War Museum Collection copyright.  Reference Bobby Locke: From Triumph to Tragedy by Fergus Bisset.

Article researched by Peter Dickens

19 thoughts on “WW2 SAAF Pilot drives for show and putts for dough – Lt. Bobby Locke

  1. Hi,
    I have some more SAAF Images of Bobby Locke which I have posted on my Website http://www.bobbylocke.org
    1 is of him at St Georges park Port Elizabeth training as a Pupil Pilot in 1942.
    2 Is of him playing Golf at Gezira near Pyramids Egypt in 1944.
    3 Is of him pictured in Libya in 1944.

    Regards, Woodsy Niles Australia.


    • The claim that Bobby Locke flew as an active service Bomber Pilot in World War Two is utter nonsense. He was trained as a co-pilot at Aqir in early 1945 & was posted to Number 31 Squadron, S.A.A.F. to arrive a few days after V.E. day & the cessation of hostilities. Bobby Locke did not fly a single sortie against a hostile enemy nor was he ever exposed to danger & hostile action. Check the facts “Woodsie” – they are all on public record.

      Alfred Pratt. Locke’s nephew, biographer & historian. See records at S.A.A.F. Pretoria, South Africa.


    • Dear Woodsy,
      I have watched your web-sites for a good while. Bobby Locke never did fly a bomber as pilot in World War Two. When he arrived at the Old War front at Fogia in Italy, the War in Europe was over already , a few days earlier. The facts are revealed in his service record held at H.Q. in Pretoria, South Africa. on Wikipedia, & he remained, then, still only a Second Lieutenant in rank & he had only just qualified as a CO-PILOT on twin engine Wellington Bombers when he was posted to Number 31 Squadron SAAF flying disarmed & stripped out Four -Engine Liberator aircraft ferrying men & equipment back to Egypt for overall disarming in that surrendered region. The Nazi enemy had signed the surrender documents before Bobby Locke arrived on the scene in Fogia with SAAF No. 31 Squadron. Please get this right – BOBBY LOCKE WAS NEVER A BOMBER PILOT ON ACTIVE SERVICE AGAINST THE HOSTILE ENEMY – He was, with all virtue, a trainer pilot, teaching recruit pilots to fly from scratch but dropping bombs & getting his aircraft mutilated by hostile gunfire – No, definitely not. I am sure that you mean no harm with your accounts about the man you admire, from a distance, Bobby Locke, but the truth lies in his accurate, military record at Head Office, Pretoria, South Africa. You are free to survey the details, already lad bare by Colonel Graham du Toit. Yours sincerely

      One who knew Bobby Locke & his family far more intimately than you .



  2. Bobby Locke was NEVER A BOMBER PILOT. He qualified as a Co-Pilot & arrived in Italy after V.E. Day 1945. He actually saw no action or combat service whatsoever. Yes, he did take his shoes & clubs with him. HIs true service record details are available on line. I have a feeling that you already should know this, Woodsey Niles.


    • As to the post, this was intended to be a light reference to golf ‘did you know’ – at the time I posted this I can only go on what is published – and here’s something from Golf Monthly article – and I quote “World War II interrupted Locke’s burgeoning career and he joined the South African Air Force as a bomber pilot, serving in the Mediterranean and the Western Desert” – the Brittanica cites him as “served during the war” (not after) the Imperial War Museum photo is referenced in their World War Two section and titled “A Services Golf Tournament held in Rome, in which several well-known peacetime golfers took part. Photograph shows: Lieutenant Bobby Locke, now serving in the South African Air Force, playing while Private Tommy Bolt, the American golfer looks on.” – the photo is undated. His Official War Record is held at the South African Department of Defence archives under his Service No: 103940 and shows him as deployed to an area of combat operations from 13 Dec 1944 in North Africa “during the war” and as qualified as far more than just a “co-pilot” (which is a qualified pilot in either event). In any event – as ‘veteran’ goes he qualifies one – and looking at his service record would have qualified the 1939-45 Star, the Africa Star, the Defence Medal and the African Service Medal. So as to my comment “war veteran” it stands – as to the comment “pilot” that stands to. Whether he was a on combat sortie or not is a matter of looking at his log, or pulling his record (a very difficult job in either event) – but it won’t change anything if he did or did not, he still remains a veteran. Here’s what I have:

      • Initial Pilot Training: 15 October 1940 – 4 May 1942 show
      • Pilot Instructor Qualification: Pilot Training: 4 May 1942 – 13 December 1944 show
      • Initial Deployment to the Middle East: 13 December 1944 – 7 May 1945 show
      • Deployment to Italy, Post VE Day, on Transport Duties: 7 May 1945 – 8 August 1945 show
      • Honourable Discharge from Service 8 August 1945 to 11 October 1945

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Peter Dickens
        None of my data and accurate historical details concerning Bobby Locke and his War record get publicized on your website. Please tell me why not. The true, provable facts are , clearly stated but appear to be ignored.

        I must say how impressed I am with your detailed reports concerning WW2 Heroes right down to the precise dates & individual acts of heroism but all you say about Bobby Locke, despite my evidence is that “He served as a Bomber Pilot in the Middle East” when we know he did not. The bland, vague claim could have him performing acts of heroism or simple duty without any , detailed, facts. Please explain to me and others why you do not either publish the true facts provided by myself & Colonel du Toit, , or question our researches concerning them. You are worrying me about this matter. It is important to publish The Truth about men in action or not in action. We owe it to the men, boys and women who did expose themselves to Death & Danger – Why not in the case of Bobby Locke, who never did? Please explain. If you do not, let the rest of us draw our own conclusions.


        Should I expect this message to disappear from your reply column as all others seem to have?


      • Hi Alfred, I thought I adequately replied to all of this in your response to Woodsy Niles. This is becoming a storm in a teacup, as I have his service record (and posted in my reply) he served in an active role ‘during’ the war and his service record shows he deployed to a combat zone ‘during’ and not ‘after’ the war and I listed the dates of his deployment. What I don’t want to do is take a fun ‘did you know’ post on a well known and regarded golfer and discredit his service to his country by declaring he was some sort of Johnny come lately whose service is irrelevant – when it is clear from his service record he was not, and he could very proudly carry the mantle of being a veteran of World War 2. It is clear that the war interrupted his career – it did, he joined the SAAF and trained up as a pilot whilst the war was raging, there’s is also nothing inaccurate in that statement. Can’t keep going back and forth on this, either he served or he did not – and the record shows he served, so let’s please give the man some credit.


      • This is his published service record – I can only go on what is published:

        • Initial Pilot Training: 15 October 1940 – 4 May 1942
        • Pilot Instructor Qualification: Pilot Training: 4 May 1942 – 13 December 1944
        • Initial Deployment to the Middle East: 13 December 1944 – 7 May 1945
        • Deployment to Italy, Post VE Day, on Transport Duties: 7 May 1945 – 8 August 1945
        • Honourable Discharge from Service 8 August 1945 to 11 October 1945


  3. Dear Woodsy
    Please tell me why you do not publish replies on your website? I believe, truly, that the truth about my uncle & his war record should be common knowledge.

    I do, sincerely, look forward to your replies with comments.



  4. Pingback: Top Tips For Beginner Golfers - The Expert Golf Website

  5. 25/11/2022

    Dear Mr Dickens

    I cannot help noticing that you continue to display Lt. Arthur D’Arcy Locke was a bomber pilot in the Mediterranean and the Western Desert theatres of combat Mediterranean and the Western Desert theatres of combat zone. I quote you this day 25/11/2022, :- “When World War 2 interrupted Locke’s burgeoning career as a golfer, he joined the South African Air Force as a bomber pilot, serving in both the Mediterranean and the Western Desert theatres of combat”.

    As you have been provided with absolute evidence that this was, certainly, not the case, I now demand of you certifiable evidence to support your claims that he was what you say. If you prove correct in your claim, which you mentioned to me is based of hearsay, “did you know” reports, I will accept and acknowledge that the reports based on the actual War Records Archives in Pretoria are not to be taken seriously, even though I know, for certain personally, that Locke & his wife Lilian were, definitely, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, right up to the time he departed for Medium Bomber Pilot Training in Aqir at the end of 1944 . Locke arrived at 31 Squadron Italy Air Base after hostilities had ceased & was not present in The Middle East, or anywhere else in action, at all prior to that date in December 1944, for onward posting to RAF Training School from January to April – May 1945 . He qualified as a Medium Bomber Co-Pilot on Wellington, twin-engine medium bomber aircraft. The War in Europe was over.



  6. There is no reply to my request, yesterday, for your positive evidence and proof that Bobby Locke ever flew a bomber in actual action in World War Two. Please answer with your positive, indisputable proof soon as possible. ALFRED PRATT


    • Hi Alfred. Here’s my statement: “When World War 2 interrupted Locke’s burgeoning career as a golfer, he joined the South African Air Force as a bomber pilot, serving in both the Mediterranean and the Western Desert theatres of combat” – Now, his service record shows 1. WW2 disrupted his career – it did, he served as a pilot instructor from 1942 to 1943 (during the war) as a commissioned officer in the SAAF and 2. He served in the Mediterranean and Western Desert theatres of operations from 13 December 1944 when he departed for Cario and then in Palestine on 22 December 1944 – whether he was training on bombers (which he was – “Receiving Operational Training on Vickers Wellington Bombers at No 76 Royal Airforce Operational Training Unit in Aqir”) or just loafing around playing golf it matters not a jot, he was present in theatres of combat ‘during’ the war – Cairo in the North African theatre and Aqir in the Mediterranean theatre – that makes him an operational war veteran by anyones definition of it – the war officially ended on 8 May 1945 and his service falls well within this parameter. So my statement stands.


    • Dear Peter Dickens (1st January 2023)
      This exchange of views and actual facts versus claims is becoming prolonged despite the question being very obvious. Be assured that my rectification actions are meant for honourable, truthful purposes only. We should pay respect to those who did deliver the goods and The Truth is shown as present. Of course, the question of how important is it to tell the truth is another matter. Some might debate it but, disregarding “the size” of the debatable question, I believe that as a matter of principle, I would not. Let me simplify this matter, setting aside that I remember much of what happened in those days or where certain people were at the time and what had they had to say about it. The information here is to help unfold what you already have but needs further clarification and evidence.
      P.S. Here is your copy of the War Record for Lt. Locke sent to me. Thank You very much:-
      Peter Dickens
      DECEMBER 2, 2022 AT 7:52 AM
      This is his published service record – I can only go on what is published:

      • Initial Pilot Training: 15 October 1940 – 4 May 1942
      • Pilot Instructor Qualification: Pilot Training: 4 May 1942 – 13 December 1944

      • Initial Deployment to the Middle East: 13 December 1944 – 7 May 1945

      • Deployment to Italy, Post VE Day, on Transport Duties: 7 May 1945 – 8 August 1945

      • Honourable Discharge from Service 8 August 1945 to 11 October 1945

      This above List is Totally Correct and matches my studied evidence precisely. See your record list section printed above in Bold Type. Refer to my more detailed listing for the perfect match. The European War was over on 11th May when Locke arrived at Number 31 Liberator Squadron in Italy for the first time and last . Those areas of action , were certainly no longer a combat zone as you claim.

      Recently, I have found, as usual, further websites claiming Locke to have participated in “100 missions as a bomber pilot”, expressed in that formula of “did you know” activities. Bearing in mind “Reality”, such a profound performance would or must, conform to a recognition decoration of, at least a D.F.C, perhaps with Bar, could be a D.S.O. perhaps with Bar or even a Victoria Cross and a promotion of Rank from 2nd Lt. S.A.A.F. to Squadron Leader, Wing Commander or more! Yes or No?

      Where does this figure originate and how could it be just a nice one hundred sorties? Like my other communications, this one is far longer than I had hoped. You do appear to require further detailed evidence from me so it is included and some data not yet in your hands has been added. Please forgive the length and the detail in our search for The Truth. I hope you can accept the facts provided and help to clear the air of misconception and misinformation. I believe it to be worth your while to conduct or study research to find the truth. There are hosts of heroes and good men out there, now dead and buried, who really did deliver the warlike goods and provide material for what you aim to achieve with your well arranged website. I mention two such: You might find these interesting characters for your website publications. firstly, go into the affairs of a Jeppe High School Old Boy, born in Johannesburg (Air Marshal Sir Philip Lagesen (502146) of Number 31 Squadron S.A.A.F. and another hero of my heart , Lt. Noel Stokes, “Royal New Zealand Air Force”, serving with The R.A.F. in Liberators, who saved his crew from certain death , except his tail gunner, killed in a deadly attack on his 29th mission. He also stuck to the failing controls of his mortally damaged, old, “Lancaster” named “Howzat!?” and avoided, most purposefully, a French Village, Yevres, where his flaming Lancaster might have killed most of the villagers who, with descendants, remember him and his crew every year since. He wrestled with the controls to keep aloft according to the last crew member ordered to bale out at circa 1,000 feet. He received no recognition from the RAF or his own country for dying, without hesitating in a ball of fire, sacrificing himself above all others in certain death. He has no decoration for this and I am fighting to get him a V.C. or, at least, a DFC. I built a monument to him in my garden and have attended memorial services to him in Yevres, France, where he perished like a Grecian God whilst his parachuted crew watched from safety and were evacuated home safely by the Local French Resistance Fighters – God bless them too for the dreadful risks they took. All saw the post-war Peace.

      Please open your copy of “Bobby Locke on Golf” at Page 40. “I completed 1,800 hours on single-, twin, and four engine aircraft. My last twelve months service was in the Middle East and Italy in a Liberator Squadron”. Noticeable in this claim, he suggests , again, a nice, round figure of, just, simply, “One Year” and makes no mention of a number of bombing sorties” he might have considered but decided not to do so. Claims have been made that he refused to discuss such matters due to his “Modesty”. Modesty was not one of his obvious features. The following date facts and calculation indicate that the bomber action figure appears as Zero. You already have the postings, confirmable facts, including accurate dates kept in S.A.A.F. Service Archives in Pretoria. His name does not appear on any of the Pretoria Records as being a pilot in charge of a Liberator Bomber complete with crew in his time from 11th May 1945 onwards or otherwise. That was the only time he came near enough to such aircraft. Below follow shows an clarified, version, for the end period.

      Locke Emplaned ZAS, Moved MAFD to SAAF : 13.12.1944
      On 15 November 1944, transferred to the Mobile Air Force Depot (S.A. Training and Tuition Section) for posting to an Operational Squadron.
      He flew, as a passenger, from Zwartkop Air Station, Pretoria, South Africa for the arriving at Cairo West on 15 December 1944. At that stage Locke had not qualified as a Medium or Heavy Bomber Pilot.
      22 December 1944, he was posted to RAF – 76 Operational Training Unit at Royal Air Force Station Aqir in Palestine for upgrade Operational Training Conversion on Wellington, two-engine Medium Bombers. No 76 Operational Training Unit (OTU) Returned to SAAF from RAF—qualified as a Co-Pilot on Wellingtons: 29.4.1945 – Enjoyed a short period of Leave in Cairo up to . 7th May 1945. He received no training up that point on Liberator Heavy Bombers.

      11 April 1945 – Posted to 31 Liberator Heavy Bomber Squadron (Italy)arriving at Celone Airfield, later, where 31 and 34 Squadrons SAAF were based on the 11th May 1945. Victory in Europe was declared on the surrender of Germany on Tuesday 8th May 1945 . (After the end of the fighting the squadron converted to transport duties, operating a shuttle service from Italy in which liberated Allied prisoners of war were flown from Italy back to the United Kingdom and South African troops preparing to return home were flown to Egypt). The 31 Squadron Diaries make no mention of Locke’s arrival and his name does not appear in “Eagles Victorious” accounts of Numbers 31 or 34 S.A.A.F. Squadron based at Fogia.

      3rd August 1945 Posted from 31 Squadron to SAAF BD Explanation : After the last of the 2 SAAF Wing, disarmed, Liberators had been delivered back to the R.A.F based at Cairo West.

      3rd August 1945 Locke left the Squadron and was posted back to the SAAF Base Depot, Egypt, to await returning back to the Union of South Africa. It is most unlikely that any flying took place during the waiting period. Golf in the shadow of The Pyramids? – Yes, far more likely. Perhaps his photograph shown in his auto biography was taken then. He does look much older and heavier than the day he was awarded his “Wings” – see page 38 “B.L. on Golf”.

      5th September 1945 – Moved from SAAF to MAFD Explanation – : Removed from front line squadron and returned to home based to await return to South Africa.
      7th September 1945 ‘‘‘Emplaned Cairo West
      9th September 1945 arrived back at ZAS (Zwartkop Air Station), Pretoria, South Africa (In September 1945 the squadron moved to Shallufa in Egypt, from where it operated as a transport squadron within the Mediterranean until 5 December 1945.[2] It was disbanded on 15 December 1945)

      11th October 1945 Released from Service in South Africa Later to get his appointment as Professional at Vereeniging Country Club.

      Time spent in 31 Liberator Squadron:_
      11 April 1945 – Decision to post candidate to 31 Liberator Heavy Bomber Squadron (Italy) following his training by R.A.F. tutors for Wellington Bombers. As you already know, Locke arrived in Italy after hostilities has ceased, entirely. See above distilled data from Pretoria Records Archive.
      3rd August 1945 Locke left the Squadron and was posted back to the SAAF Base Depot for ferrying back to the Union of South Africa. Liberator Squadron SAAF 31 posting equals = 19+31+30+31+3=114days = 16 weeks and 2 days and not 12 months as claimed. 31 and 34 Squadrons had ceased any operational bombing at all and flying was minimal in the recorded run-down of activities and the squadron itself.

      Locke states on Page 40 that he spent one whole year as a Liberator, Heavy Bomber Pilot without giving dates. To the uninformed, that could be assumed, incorrectly, as serving there in August 1944 when he was, in fact, still in Port Elizabeth, as we know. It is also most unlikely that he piloted a Heavy Bomber before or after 3rd August 1945. He did not pilot one of the Liberators that flew in The Warsaw Concerto and keeping his claim vague, suggests more than that. In fact, he was what you may refer to as “A Johnny Come Lately” and was nowhere near any active War Zone arriving at a Liberator, Heavy Squadron, nonqualified for the squadron aircraft to fly untested and after The War had ended.

      In July 1944, Number 31 Squadron moved from Egypt to Italy and formed part of No. 2 Wing (SAAF) along with 34 Squadron SAAF. The squadrons’ first operation in in northern Italy, the Balkans, Austria and Southern France, as well as mine-laying operations along the Danube. The squadron was later involved equipment supply air drops to partisans in Yugoslavia (Operation Flotsam) as well as similar supply drops to the defenders in the Polish uprising code named “The Warsaw Concerto” for the air drop in August–September 1944. Losses in aircraft and crew. Bobby Locke was not there but in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He just attempted to make it look like he had – concerning his memory which I am able, wholeheartedly, as an eye-witness, to endorse:_ See Page 140 ‘Bobby Locke on Golf’ – ‘Another thing is my memory. It is exceptional’. ‘It often amazes people that I can recall shot for shot rounds of golf I played ten or fifteen years ago. I have not the slightest difficulty in recollecting not only my own scores in almost any big competition in which I have played, but also the scores of other competitors nearest to me. There is no trick about this whatsoever. It is just that I have a very good memory, etc…………’’

      Fundamentally, I am not now challenging, nor ever have, the actual fact that Bobby Locke, joined up in the S.A.A.F. and served the days given in the Pretoria Archives even though his figures are not quite the same as on the record.. It is wrong for anyone to remark otherwise. The discrepancy is clear but let us see it, recognize it and set it on one side as a minor detail. Set that aside as, perhaps a lapse of memory or a typographical error on his part but, I fear, that is not the case here. Armed with an extraordinary memory-strength, which he claims and I do bear witness to that description of shots played, courses, holes and scores remembered. Perhaps we can recognize it in the same way as one should when he states, most clearly, to have served as a Bomber Pilot and been in Cairo in 1943 which he had not. He had never left South Africa as an airman until December 1944.

      He has every right to be remembered as a serving volunteer S.A.A.F recruit, trainee and officer as recorded in Pretoria Archives but not acclaimed for warlike actions he never took, however much he hoped his remarks would be believed. Taking his words, already in your possession, recorded in “A Charmed Life” – by Gerald Wessenger and in “A Sheepish Man” by Maurice Segal , adding his misinformation concerning Maccauvlei Country Club and Vereeniging Country Club 1938/1939, his own “confusion” over his claimed, total number of hours actually flown, one may wonder what else might be in doubt? But, as you say, let us not cause a storm, even if it is only one in a teacup, but, simply, just not claim status as a fully-fledged Liberator Bomber Pilot with a crew of eight or so members, risking Death more or less daily. The Truth should out!. I do believe, most sincerely, that the true heroes and those who served well and otherwise, should be recognized accordingly and The War Dead remembered with gratitude. I see this as a moral issue.

      Yes, as you claimed, he was posted to two areas that had, once-upon-a- time, been part of the areas of serious combat. In fact, by the time Locke arrived in Cairo for update, further flying training, he did not face enemy hostilities at all. However, perfect evidence is available, if one searches the overall accounts history, that Egypt and Palestine were well behind The Allied Lines of action and attack by the time Locke arrived, just before the end of 1944 and into the entire period spent subsequently , well behind Allied Lines, out of the range of enemy attack. German and Italian forces had retreated towards Northern Italy and had no long range bomber airfields in service within return range of Cairo and Aqir. That area was long being used as training space and as depots for supplies and transport well behind Allied Lines. The S.A.A.F. had long been running a ferrying service from South Africa in unescorted DC3 Dakotas and other unarmed aircraft.

      By all means give the man credit for what he actually delivered but not for the false claims he or anyone else has made and others continue to believe, regardless of Truth, Facts and Reality. His flying hours claimed against official records have already been laid bare to you. His standard decorations are adequate to the nature of his service and postings. Explanations from Colonel Graham du Toit follows further hereunder.

      In July 1944, Number 31 Squadron moved from Egypt to Italy and formed part of No. 2 Wing (SAAF) along with 34 Squadron SAAF. The squadrons’ first operation in in northern Italy, the Balkans, Austria and Southern France, as well as mine-laying operations along the Danube. The squadron was later involved equipment supply air drops to partisans in Yugoslavia (Operation Flotsam) as well as similar supply drops to the defenders in the Polish uprising code named “The Warsaw Concerto” for the air drop in August–September 1944. Losses in aircraft and crew. 31 and 34 Squadron participated, with a larger force of other Squadrons on specific plans authorised by Winston Churchill. The flying return distances were too great from the U.K. and more hazardous. 31 Squadron Liberators successfully participated but at a large cost. 31 Squadron Liberators numbered 26 and 8 (30,8%) were lost/destroyed with few surviving crew members. This and all other sorties occurred before Bobby Locke was posted to Egypt in December 1944. His Service Record in Pretoria records “Flying Hours a follows:_
      Tiger Moth 505 ]
      Oxford & Hawker Hart 100 ] —— All within South Africa
      Anson 407 ]
      Wellington (Co-pilot Trainee) 100 R.A.F. Training School at Aqir 1945
      Liberator 50 (Had to be between 11th May & 3rd August 1945 , after Victory in Europe Day) Post Operational shut-down of 31 Squadron
      TOTAL FLYING 1 ,162 Hours Written and signed “Pretoria”


      I possess a letter to me from CDR. J.D. Bredencamp (Chief of S.A. Defence Force 22nd May 1993). I quote relevant section of the letter but you can request a copy from me or from “Pretoria”. Quote this paragraph: “This Office is unable to trace the name of” 2nd Lt. A.D. Locke” in the Squadron’s War Diaries for this period. (Please find attached photocopies of 31 Squadron War Diaries for the month of May 1945: Source : WD SAAF Box 45)” (I still possess those clear photocopies).

      The letter also refers to The Martin & Orpen “Eagles Victorious”, Volume VI for further research.. 2nd Lt. Arthur D’Arcy Locke’s name does not appear, at all in that Historical Record of 31 and 34 Squadrons either. The Photostat copy of May 1945 diary records all activities of the Squadrons including full names of various personnel involved in whatever activities took place, including various sports. It looks as though Locke was not there at all . If he was , his profile was low or not worthy of military note. That might seem peculiar to anyone who knew him intimately or at all. One might assume that, as a famous South African Golfer who had won the S.A. Open as well as The Irish Open Championship , his name would appear if he was important enough, or simply a non-combatant sporting champion , joining the Squadron .

      Here follow some items of correspondence from Colonel Graham du Toit, James, “Horse” Sweeney, a fellow trainee, who, further, witnessed Locke’s presence in Port Elizabeth, South Africa into late 1944 before Locke’s posting to Aqir as a Pupil Pilot for upgrade to Medium Bomber Wellingtons.

      Note from Secretary of The South African Air Force Association. “My name is Carol van Rensburg, Secretary of SA Air Force Association Johannesburg Branch. I have a copy of ‘Eagles Victorious’ which was given to us to sell, but do not see Bobby Locke’s name in the index. I have no record of Bobby Locke ever having been a member of SAAFA,.”

      Here , for your further information, are Email messages received from Colonel Graham du Toit and from James “Horse” Sweeney, who received his “Wings” on the same day and at the same ceremony as Locke but went on to be an active service fighter pilot in WW2 and to serve in in the Far East in subsequent warfare employed by The S.A.A.F.

      Hi Alfred
      Carol begged me to assist you as you appear to have hit a brick wall regarding information on Bobby Locke. I will type you detailed attachment that I will send to you tomorrow or Wednesday that should answer all your questions. This information comes directly from the man’s Service Records. By checking the official records, one is able to sort out the truth and facts from the hearsay and sometimes, absolute rubbish articles written by individuals who have done no reputable research and write articles purely based on hearsay. Unfortunately, those that served with him are also not always in a position to provide accurate information. Just for the record, Bobby never served operationally as he joined 31 Squadron after the war had ended and ended the war with only 20 hours as a Co-pilot on Liberators.
      If there is any other information you require, let me know. I will type up a list of abbreviations for you as well and give you some background to the Air Schools, OTU’s etc. As Carol would say, “Never fear when the Colonel is near”. I will make your plan come together.
      Graham (Colonel Graham du Toit)
      09/04/2010 with attachment A.D. Locke War Record
      Hi Alfred
      Attached please find a detailed summary (MS Word File) of the Military Service Records of Bobby Locke as promised. You should not have too many outstanding queries after this but if there are some, please do not hesitate to ask. You mentioned in one of your letters to Carol of a photograph of Bobby standing with an RAF Officer next to an aircraft. This photo was most likely taken at 76 OTU in Palestine as the aircraft you described fits the description of a Wellington. Enjoy the weekend.

      Dear Alfred,
      I find your reports fascinating. I do not believe anybody could have done anywhere near 250 bombing sorties on Liberators. 2,000 operational hours would certainly have earned him a few gongs. 1,800 hours seems quite a lot of flying but certainly quite possible. On singled engined aircraft we did far fewer hours and I ended the war with only 600 hours.
      As far as I can remember they were doing coastal patrols and aircrew training (observers, navigators) at Port Elizabeth flying Ansons. I was stationed at Port Alfred in 1944 flying Harvards and Ansons. We trained air gunners. I am quite certain Liberators never flew out Port Elizabeth.
      Horse ( James Sweeney)
      Dear Alfred, Thanks for the update
      (Horse would have had ample opportunity to meet his old friend in Port Elizabeth. Both were there the same time and were old “comrades” from early days together).
      “Horse” as well as Bobby Locke’s Sister, Sheila and her husband saw Locke in Port Elizabeth well into in late 1944. My impression of “Horse “ is that he behaved politely and positively and his correspondence implied that he rather liked his comrade, “Bobby” Locke.

      “Horse” sent these notes in 2010:-
      Dear Alfred
      “My contact with Bobby was follows:- Reg Househam, a family friend, was Captain of the Park View Golf Club for many years and may have introduced Bobby to golf as a young boy. While I was stationed at Littleton as an Air Pupil, Reg Househam asked me if I had come across Bobby Locke. I said that I did not know him but that I was always among the last out from breakfast before parade in the mornings and frequently sat and chatted to another Air Pupil whose name was Bobby. This turned out to be Bobby Locke. He was a few courses ahead of me but I think the demand for him to play golf with senior officers put him back and we ended up on the same course flying Hawker “Harts” ( Biplane, single engine heavy Trainer – out of date for WW2) at Vereeniging where we trained as bomber pilots. I was standing next to Bobby on our Wings Parade and fainted after we had received our wings, while the senior officer, who had presented our wings, was making a speech. I believe that Bobby and a couple of others carted me off the parade ground.
      From Vereeniging we were posted to Pietersburg to do a conversion course on to Master II trainers. At that time these aircraft were very sophisticated high speed aircraft with a performance matching early Spitfires. On completion of the course a call was made for volunteers to be posted to a fighter squadron, this in spite of having been trained as bomber pilots. Bobby was among our small number of volunteers but was turned down much to his disgust. I think he was regarded as being too precious to be risked on operations and I think became a staff pilot. He finally managed to get a posting up North in the latter stages of the war and I think was posted to a bomber squadron”.
      Sincerely, Horse
      Questions later to “Horse”- (Did Locke , actually volunteer or just say he had? Horse could not say. Did Locke fail any of the tests that would , also, put him back of the rest of Pupil ?)

      Summary – Researched Documents Records by Colonel Graham du Toit
      Awards : Italy Star ( Standard award for serving time in Italy)
      1939-45 War Medal\Africa Service Medal – Standard Award.
      ‘‘Second Lieutenant Locke never flew on any operational mission over a hostile target’’’. By the time he was posted onto an Operational Squadron, the War in Europe had already ended. For this reason, he did not qualify for the Operational Decoration, ‘The 1939-45 Star’, as the criteria for this award was six months service in a designated operational zone, or completion of an operational sortie against an enemy target. The information listed above I have taken directly from his World War
      Two Military Service Record lodged in the South African National Defence Force Documentation Service Archives”.
      Graham (Colonel Graham du Toit)
      To Sum Up ———— 2nd Lt. Arthur D’Arcy (“Bobby”) Locke, S.A.A.F. Italy Star and Africa Medal 1939-45 War. Because he was never in the same place as there was, actually, Live Action he could not have piloted and commanded a Liberator or any other Bomber on Warlike Sorties, at all. He qualified as a Co-Pilot only to fly Wellington Medium Bombers and not at all, according to the records, Liberator Heavy Bombers which had a far greater payload capacity than most other Heavy Bombers of that time. The Evidence for this lengthy report is recorded very clearly. Please ask me any questions that you may like but I do believe that the facts provided herewith do suffice.




      • Hi Alfred, thank you for your lengthy reply. I tend to simplify things as a military veteran myself. If someone is in service – during the war, they are a war veteran. If they have earned medals to specify their service in a war then they are a war veteran. I’m also a qualified pilot – I love flying, if you are a “co-pilot” you are still a “pilot”. Wartime “Service” by the sheer definition of it can mean you played a role in it – from ‘instructor’ to combat soldier to a chef to the guy who made sure the mail got to the front line. None of it can be detracted from someone whose intensions were to serve and put on a uniform to do so, you did your bit. Now, I know the Middle East and North Africa ‘risk’ had all but receded by the later end of the war, but that does not matter, it does not detract the 2nd Lt Locke was there whilst it was still considered a “theatre of operations”, as said – whether he played golf or spent his days sunning himself on the beach is immaterial – to explain this better I’ll take the chaps who served in entertainment corps, it pissed the combat veterans off no end that they earned their campaign medals the hard way up to their necks in blood and guts and the dude impersonating a woman on an entertainment gig earned the same, in fact there are cases in WW2 where chaps have enormous campaign medal racks – just about every ‘Star’ on offer – flying around the world going into “theatre of operations” and entertaining troops miles behind the front-lines. It a rub of luck, but those chaps are perfectly entitled to wear their campaign Stars in from all the theatres of operations they went to – and yes, they too can be classified as being a ‘combat’ veteran having served in a theatre of operations – they were as much as risk as anyone else – and their a numerous examples of ‘clerks’, ‘chefs’ and ‘entertainers’ landing up in action when they were meant to be miles away in a perceived safe area – the enemy just suddenly materialised when it should not have. The old grizzled vets who just got ‘one campaign star’ fighting a hand to hand hell just have to deal with it, and they did. Campaign stars are interesting, I did not say at any point that Italy was a combat zone when Lt Locke arrived there, but you pointed out he has the ‘Italy’ star, which is a campaign medal awarded to those who served in Italy whilst it was still considered a “theatre of operations” and its seems even here someone in his command felt old Bobby Locke qualified for it – the fact that he wore any ‘star’ whether it was the 1939-45 Star, or the Italy Star (I’m pretty sure Locke would have had both – the Italy Star is not awarded without the former Star) means he can be classified as a combat veteran in a zone of operations . On flying into and out of theatres of operations – it matters not a jot whether you, as a uniformed person flying into the zone are the pilot or you are a passenger, you are still flying in a military marked aircraft, in a military uniform, into a military theatre of operations – whether it is ‘quiet’ zone or rather a ‘noisy’ zone with lots of metal been chucked around it at the time of flying into it is immaterial, whether you are going there to shuffle some paper work, provide entertainment, undergo training, drop bombs or drive a tank into battle is also immaterial. I think we need to give old Bobby here a break, he served in a war – voluntarily – he did not shirk wartime service, he served as a ‘Pilot’ in a SAAF uniform, he served as a commissioned officer, he willingly went into theatres of operations, he was prepared to take the risks and he has the medals to show for it. He was just ‘lucky’ nothing went tits up whilst he was ‘there’ and a great many other war veterans can claim the same ‘luck’, but that’s all it is .. and serving personnel get it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Please don’t Alfred, this discussion has exhausted its course and I fear it will only detract from a veterans service to his country and not serve to highlight anything positive – in the end if we are looking for truths – the truth is he was a bomber pilot, the truth is he served during the war and the truth is he was in operational theatres during the war. Those are the truths, nothing is going to change them and they are enough to substantiate what is a small photo caption interest story.


    • Hi Mr Pratt. I hope this message finds you well. I recently acquired an interesting hickory shafted putter with only Bobby Locke stamped on the sole. I bought it from a farmer in South Africa who’s father was an avid collector. (Now deceased)
      The collector sold all of his collection to a friend 15 years ago but kept only this putter along with a vintage Ping 1A putter for himself. I managed to purchase the Bobby Locke putter from him last week and was wondering if you would perhaps know the origin of it. I can send you some pics of it if you’d like?

      Kindest regards


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.