New South Wales Aboriginal Soldiers – the Lock Family and World War One
Jerome Locke (right) with his sons William (centre) and Olga (left). Jerome and Olga served in the 36th and 53rd Battalions. Courtesy Noel Morley
It was not unusual for an Indigenous family to contribute more than one of their members to war – families like the Lovetts from Victoria, the Farmers from Western Australia and the Maynards and Mansells from Tasmania were just some of those who did do so in World War 1 and in later conflicts. In New South Wales the Lock family, Darug people from the Sydney basin, and the earliest to suffer the trauma of invasion and defend their land, did not hesitate when it came to fighting for it again in the 1914-1918 war.
Amongst the names on the St Marys War Memorial are O, LJ and J Locke. These men, Olga Cecil, Leslie John and their father Jerome Locke were just three of the nine members of the immediate Lock(e) family to volunteer for the Australian Imperial Force or AIF. In all twenty one members of the Locks and their extended family are known to have volunteered for service in the World War One and most served overseas. All were grandsons or great grandsons of Maria Lock, a daughter of Yarramundi, chief of the Boorooberongal clan of the Darug.
Leslie John (Jack ) Locke s son of Jerome Locke 18th Reinforcements 3rd Battalion Courtesy Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation
Included in their number were some of the first to enlist in 1914. Members of the family fought at Gallipoli, the Somme and Flanders and in Palestine and Egypt – in infantry battalions, tunnelling companies, veterinary sections, camel corps and light horse regiments. What differentiates the contribution they made is its context – the fact that the constitution of their country discriminated against Aboriginal people on grounds of race and that regulations, not always uniformly applied, prohibited men not substantially of European origin from serving in the AIF.
The Lock Family in World War One: how service records contribute to Darug History uses records held by the National Archives of Australia and the Australian War Memorial to describe the service of the Lock volunteers, their immediate relatives and others connected to them. These include men from the Anolock, Barber, Bolton, Castles, Everingham, Morley, Punton, Sims, Smith and White families. As well as a record of war service, the documents contained in the service records are a valuable source of family information and have a contribution to make to Darug history. This is illustrated in The Lock Family in World War One, which in addition to extracts from the records themselves also includes photographs of the men and their families. Although concentrating on one family the book shows the value of records of service to all families and communities who contributed their men to war and the potential these records have for uncovering unexpected or lost information about a family group.
The Lock Family in World War One was first published in 2008 by Indigenous Histories. A second expanded edition was published by the Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation in 2011 and is available from the Darug Research and Information Centre
Norman Lock 57th and 54th Battalion. Courtesy Peter Rose
Philippa Scarlett 2 January 2013