New South Wales Aboriginal Soldiers – the Lock Family  and  World War One

Olga, William and Jerome Locke

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

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 WW1 great grandfather of Peter Rose

Norman Lock 57th and 54th Battalion. Courtesy Peter Rose

Philippa Scarlett 2 January 2013

About Indigenous Histories

Author & Publisher of Australian history, art and culture.
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  1. Debrah Wilkins says:

    My great grandfather Albert Reginald Gidney left Sydney in 1914 aged 20 he sailed on the SS Hawksbay he was in the 13th light horse, he was a aboriginal young man, he was born in Sydney I would like to find where it states he is aboriginal in his war record I would appreciate any help.
    Regards Debrah Wilkins

  2. Thank you for your comment and for alerting me to your great grandfather’s service.
    I looked at Albert Reginald Gidney’s service record on the National Archives website. It has no reference to Aboriginality or anything which would suggest it. However this is not unusual and the Attestation form did not ask any questions about race.
    I did some basic searching and see his Aboriginality comes from Tasmania. If I find any information which would be of interest to you I will be very happy to send it to you. You may want to contact Andrea Gerrard at the University of Tasmania. Her email is Her current studies relate to Aboriginal men from Tasmania who served in WW1

    • Debrah wilkins says:

      Hi Philippa,
      I have emailed Andrea Gerrrard 3 times asking for help with regards to my great grandfather Albert Reginald Gidney but I have not had any response from Andrea, I can understand that at this time of year she may be busy and has just returned from holidays but a email from Andrea would be great just to let me know if she has found any information could you please let me know if you find any further information other than he was a Tasmanian aboriginal man.
      Many Thanks Debrah Wilkins

    • Debrah Wilkins says:

      Hi Philippa,
      I still have not had any contact from Andrea or yourself I do realise you both would be busy but I am anxious to find more information with regards to my aboriginal roots, this is very important to me and to my children to know where we come from and where we belong. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
      Many thanks Debrah Guly marree Wilkins

    • Luke says:

      Hi Phillipa, Any movement on this?, where were you able to to find that his Aboriginality comes from Tasmania? I would be extremely interested to know as well. Thank you very much.

      • I passed his details to Andrea Gerrard UTAS but nothing new has come up.
        What is your own interest in this soldier?

      • Luke says:

        Hi Phillipa, This is my Great Great Grandfather, Deborah is my Aunty, I have been trying for some time to get more information! Thank you for passing it on to Andrea, I hope she will contact back shortly! Thank you very much!

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi I’m wondering if someone can help me with my line of decendants? I started looking into my Dharug ancestory about 10 or so years ago , i got confused & Distracted & have since lost all info.
    My grandmothers married name is F Harris, her mother was Dorris settre/settree. (Unsure on exact names as they seem to change hence why i was confused) my father is S J Harris. I may be able to provide a little bit more info if needed. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    • Jim Kohen’s genealogy in Daruganora
      shows that Ellen Smith is the daughter of Maria Catherine Lock b 1859. Ellen married George Jones and Doris who married Arthur Settree was one of their children
      Doris’s children are named on page 57 as
      7 Settree, Dennis Arthur b. 24Jun1930
      m. Cumbers, Elizabeth
      8 Settree, Wayne
      8 Settree, Denise
      8 Settree, Garry
      Died aged 22 years – hole in the heart.
      7 Settree, Frances Lorraine b. 5Apr1937 d. 1958
      m. Harris, Phillip
      8 Harris, Kerry L. b. 1959
      m. West, John
      8 Harris, Debra K. b. 1961
      m. Gill, Ian
      8 Harris, Malcolm P. b. 1962
      m. Cullen, Dawn
      8 Harris, Stephen R. b. 1964
      m. Diaten, Kim

      I am sure you will find this book of interest .You may also want to contact the Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation

      • Sarah Harris/Turner says:

        Thank you so much. I have been trying to find the info all night. Yes the book is good but does need correcting ( step children were put into the nook when they have no connection what so ever) & it needs updating. Just looking at what you posted there are 3 devorces. Kim dieghten is not my mother but was step mother, theirs since been more marriges & more births i have 4 cjildren to add & my brother & sisters have 8 between them.i was lost with some names i did come across some names but wasn’t sure as i couldnt find my nanna or great nanna.
        Thank you so much for your help. You found my family 😊

  4. Malcolm says:

    Is Barbra Reay or Rutherford in this Book

  5. Malcolm says:

    Hi Phillippa I’m Malcolm and I was told that my mother is written in this book can please tell me that is so her name Barbara Reay or Rutherford thanking you Malcolm

    • HI Malcolm
      Here is what I say about your mother. It is in connection with the war service of Alfred White

      Alfred White returned to Australia on 22 September 1919 but does not seem to have
      prospered. Almost seven years after the war’s end he was living in Pitt Street Redfern and
      described himself as in ‘a very bad way just now’ in a letter to the military authorities.
      This was to inquire about the possibility of money owing to him from his service. He
      noted in passing that ‘I have never had a penny from the military since I came home’. He
      was 31 and like many other ex servicemen probably still suffering physically and
      emotionally from his wartime experience. A scribbled note on the cover of his record
      states ‘deceased 1.8.63’. There is no evidence in the record itself that his wife Nellie

      joined him in Australia but information from his family is that she did, although the
      marriage did not survive. His war service is acknowledged on the headstone on his grave
      placed there by his niece Barbara Reay nee Rutherford, youngest daughter of his sister
      Laura Bolton, whose second marriage was to James Rutherford.

  6. Kath fenby says:

    Malcolm if you are Barbara Rutherford’s son, we are first cousins, as I am Gordon Rutherford’s daughter Kathleen. I’ve just found Learne. Anything you know about our family is like to know

    • Mellissa Ciampa-Lamprey says:

      Hi Kath, Nice to speak with you on here. I am Sharmaine’s daughter. Her Mother is Barbara. I am also looking into our families history..

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