Bob Kershaw

 Fighter Pilot Bob Kershaw: tribute page

Hi and welcome to this site;

I met Derek Kershaw, son of Bob Kershaw,  in Knysna during the 2013 December holiday season. Derek was so kind to let me scan his father's log books, war photographs and other documentation, to be published on this  site.  

Robert Harold Carlisle Kershaw joined the SAAF in early 1939 as a pupil pilot in the "Pirow" training scheme. 

In 1940 he saw active service in East Africa with 3 squadron, winning the first SAAF DSO medal for rescuing a shot down fellow pilot under enemy fire.

Bob had an eventful second operational tour in 1941/'42 flying Hurricanes with 1 squadron in North Africa. This was a tough time for our SAAF squadrons as the Germans enjoyed air superiority with more advanced fighter aircraft. Bob's aircraft was shot up by the enemy on two occasions. However, he caused severe damage to enemy aircraft in aerial engagements.

In 1943 Bob succeeded in volunteering for a third operational tour, flying operations with 2 squadron and 7 squadron in North Africa and Italy.

Bob was yet again  selected for his fourth operational tour in  Italy 1944/'45, this time as OC of 7 squadron flying Spitfires on mostly dive-bombing missions. Unfortunately  in March 1945 his aircraft crashed behind enemy lines and Bob spent the last weeks of the war in a German POW camp.

Bob was awarded the DFC and he is one of the very few SAAF pilots to have done four operational tours. One of Bob's "claim to fame" is the fact that his image was to appear on South African war postage stamps.

After the war Bob  had a successful  career  in the automobile industry. Bob passed away in 1996.


 Returning from East Africa 1941.


Derek Kershaw with a painting of his dad's 7 squadron Spitfire TJ-D, featuring the squadron designed twin 500lb bomb rack.


This is a living web site. Any input and/or participation will be much appreciated regarding additional information, correctness, information from relatives of members who served with Bob in his  squadrons, photographs, stories etc. Please e-mail me. 

If you perhaps have a family member who served as a SAAF fighter pilot during WW2 and you would want to find out more about his war service please contact me, hopefully I can be of some help.

Tinus le Roux

January 2014 


 Bob  as flight commander with 7 squadron 1943/'44.

 Military Service

0?/0?/1937    Air cadet, SA College School

01/04/1939   No.1 UATG, Brooklyn

01/06/1939   Young's Field, Wynberg

01/07/1939    No.1 UATG, Wing Field

07/01/1940    Wonderboom

01/06/1940    2 Air School

??/06/1940    qualify for wings

18/06/1940    Kimberley

??/07/1940    Promoted to 2/ Lt.

03/07/1940    Wonderboom

16/08/1940    Waterkloof

27/08/1940    Z.A.S. Harvard course


1st Ops Tour

30/09/1940    No.3 Fighter Squadron, East Africa

22/11/1940    Involved with first air battle of 3 squadron, damaged 2 Ca.133's.

10/12/1940    Escorted governer of Kenya from Malindi to Lamu.

15/03/1941    Attack on Diredaa, rescue Capt. Jack Frost after he was shot down.

05/04/1941    Attacked Addis Abeba drome and destroyed C-133 and SM-76 on the ground

11/04/1941    DSO awarded, the first for a SAAF member

20/04/1941    Accidently shot and wounded by a British officer.

 24/07/1941    43 Squadron

16/08/1941    M.E.F.  UDF

 2nd Ops Tour

16/08/1941    1 Squadron North Africa

24/09/1941    Mentioned in Dispatches award

29/11/1941    Shot down, force landed at LG132

04/12/1941    Probable destroyed a C-202 and damaged a C-202

07/12/1941    Aircraft badly shot up by Bf-109

12/12/1941    Probable destroyed a Bf-109

Tour expired, 115 sorties, 204 ops hours

 10/05/1942    10 Squadron Durban

31/08/1942     6 Squadron Cape Town

 3d Ops Tour

24/07/1943    2 Squadron, North Africa, Sicily, Italy

30/09/1943    7 Squadron, as flight commander, North Africa

??/??/1943    Promoted to Captain

21/07/1944    Tour expired, 112 sorties, 168 ops hours

 4th Ops Tour    

01/10/1944    7 Squadron, Officer Commanding, Italy

??/??/1944    Promoted to Major.

10/03/1945    Aircraft Glycol system hit, bailed, POW in Germany

                          63 sorties, 75 ops hours


21/08/1945    DFC awarded


 OC of 7 squadron 1944/'45





Bob at the War museum in Johannesburg with the original painting by  Neville Lewis. This painting was used as master for the particular war stamp image.

East Africa 1940-1941 with 3 squadron

 Hurricane Mk. i of 3 squadron

Profile of the plane flown by Bob when he won his DSO.  Graphics thanks to Brent Best.

Bob and Jack Frost posing for photographs  after the successful rescue flight by Kershaw. 

One of the official photographs of Kershaw and Frost.


Press reports.


Bob returning from East Africa after he was accidently shot through the chest and arm by a British officer. See the bandage on his right arm.


Investiture 1941 where Bob's DSO was awarded at the government house in Pretoria.


Jack Frost DFC, Bob Kershaw DSO and S v B Theron DFC. 

North Africa with 1 Squadron 1941-1942 

Corrie van Vliet, Quirk, Bob and Malcolm "Bennie" Osler.


 1 Squadron Hurricanes being strafed by Italian fighters September 1941.

Fellow 1 squadron pilots



1943, North Africa with 2 Squadron 

Kittyhawk with Africa map and springbok emblem. 

2 Squadron pilots while Bob was with them. 

1943-1944, 7 Squadron, North Africa, Italy 


 Some of Bob's pilot friends

1944-1945, 7 Squadron Italy 



Squadron designed twin 500 lb bomb rack, test flown by Bob.


Painting made for Bob by the famous aviation artist R Belling, 1997.


Squadron photograph 1944/'45 Bob as the OC  sitting in the middle .



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