William Robert Locke
Service No. 67256
Link to Service Record: http://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/records/344076/1
William Robert locke was supposedly born at Rooty Hill in 1892. However on one enlistment form it appears to state ‘26.1.1891’ (See ‘Attestation Paper’ below).
Robert (as he was known) is the older brother of Joseph James ‘Karadji’ Locke who also served (See Locke Family Lineage).
Robert enlisted at Parramatta but not until 4th March, 1918 when he was about 26 years old, naming his father, Robert, son of Maria Lock’s son Robert, as his next of kin living at Plumpton, Rooty Hill. There is also mention of a Mrs. J. Aiken, friend, living at Church St., Parramatta, as his legatee on his Attestation Papers in his Service Record. The description of him is given as ‘dark’ with black hair and brown eyes. So despite the ban on Aboriginal men joining the Army at this stage of the War, they were enlisted to make up the numbers required.
Robert was recruited as a Private in the N24 General Service Reinforcements and sent to Liverpool for training.
From the word go, Robert appears to have had problems in the training camp. He went AWL on four occasions and was fined as his punishment. A Casualty Form states he was in hospital with an eye problem but “refuses operation”.
It was not until 14th October, 1918 that he embarked from Sydney on the S.S. Wyreema.
On board, he was again in trouble. First of all, refusing to do duty on the troop deck, then refusing duty when detailed as a mess orderly and a more serious crime of ‘smoking on B deck at sea’. At first he was fined for his ‘crimes’ and finally given ‘7 days of field punishment’. His Service Records state it was Field Punishment No 2. For No. 1, the punishment consisted of ‘heavy labour duties with two hours of being fettered and attached to a fixed object’, For No.2 the punishment was ‘not attached to a fixed object’ (see ‘Crime Charge sheet’ below).
It would seem he was prepared to put up with punishments rather than doing ‘duties’ which leads to the question as to why this was so, as he must have known that army life demanded obedience to commands. Was it because he found the confinement of Army life a bit too difficult or was the way he was requested to do duties as an Aboriginal man the problem, or something else?
The Service Records cease at this point without stating where the Wyreema docked. P. Scarlett, in her book, “The Lock Family in World War One”, states the SS Wyreema was returned to Sydney as the war had ended, arriving back in December, 1918. He was discharged 5th January, 1919. So Robert did not fight in the war. Nevertheless, he was awarded the Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal.