William ‘Bill’ James Macavoy Locke

July 20, 2015

LOCKE, William James -‘Jack’ Macavoy- – – – SPC 1907-1911

DoB:- – 14 Aug 1894, St Kilda, VIC

Father:- – Samuel James Locke

Mother:- – Bessie, nee Macavoy

In the College Annual of 1916-1917, there was an extensive report about Jack Locke’s experiences at Gallipoli:

-‘Captain W J Locke, who was known as the -popular boy- at St Patrick’s, brought to perfection on the battlefield the sterling qualities which distinguished him at College. Jack neither forgot nor neglected his religious training at SPC. The Army Chaplain (Father Power) at Gallipoli, stated that Jack was of great assistance to him in serving Mass and keeping his men -up to the mark- in attending the Holy Sacrifice, showing that he did not forget to serve God as well as his country.

The following account from a newspaper cutting gives the main particulars which led up to Captain Locke obtaining the DSO -“

“NIGHT ATTACK, 27 Sept 1915.

All Saturday was occupied in securing the line, and in sorting out units that had become mixed up during the night. There was no more work however, for the tired troops. As soon as darkness set in, with the British and Indian Brigades on the right, a determined assault was delivered on the main spur, which had been marked as the brigade’s final stopping place. It was a young Duntroon officer who led the way by compass, the 15th, 14th and 16th Battalion, in that order, forming the attacking force, with the New South Wales unit in reserve. Immediate opposition was met, and a fierce fight followed, in which Queensland troops were the most heavily engaged. Their duty was to make a reconnaissance in force to the north, with a view to distracting as many of the Turks as possible from the main attack. The battle necessitated as advance of about two miles into terribly rough country, teeming with the enemy, and an enormous number of machine guns were brought into play from the Turkish flanks. The brigade, however, maintained the fight in the darkness for over three hours, while Ghurkas sealed the neighbouring heights. When the task set the Australians had been achieved, they withdrew to a defensive position on the main spur of Abd-el-raham Bair, where I left them, snug and well dug in, prepared to resist any force the enemy can put into the field.”

Service No:- –

Rank:- – Captain, later Major

Unit:- – 13th Battalion

Jack Locke was appointed on 3 November, 1914 aged 20 years. He was a professional soldier who had already attained the rank of Lieutenant at the Royal Military College, Duntroon.

He embarked from Melbourne on 22 December 1914, and after undergoing preparation and training in Egypt, was attached to the 4th Infantry Brigade and proceeded to Gallipoli.

On 27 December 1915, he left the Turkish Peninsula, and after some time resting and undergoing further training in Egypt, he left Alexandria on 28 May 1916 and proceeded to Marseilles. In France, he rejoined the 13th Battalion, and was promoted to the rank of Major on 11 November 1916.

Jack’s father was notified by cable on 1 December 1916, that his son was -‘Mentioned in Dispatches’ for his outstanding service:

– -‘Dear Sir, I have much pleasure in forwarding herewith copy of extract from Fourth Supplement, No 29664, to the London Gazette of 11th July 1916, relating to the conspicuous service rendered by your son, Captain W J Locke, 13th Battalion.


With reference to the despatch published on the 10th April, the following are mentioned for distinguished and gallant services rendered during the period of General Sir Charles Munro’s Command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force:-


The above had been promulgated in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No 176, of 30th November 1916.’

Major Locke was transferred on 14 February 1917 to England, to attend a staff course at Clare College, Cambridge. In March, he proceeded to France again, rejoining his unit as Brigade Major. A report written after Locke finished this course noted that:

Major WJM Locke, MC (age 22 -½) 13th Battalion has been a Staff Captain for 14 months and has been appointed Brigade Major since coming to this course. He is very intelligent and a very quick worker and should do well. Has served in Egypt, Gallipoli and France’.

Later that year, in September 1917, he was returned to Australia aboard the Borda, disembarking at Melbourne on 21 November 1917.

William Locke continued his military career into the Second World War. He was General Staff Officer 1, in the 3rd Australian Infantry Division between December 1938 and November 1939. The following year, 1940 he was appointed Colonel General Staff, Eastern Command. In September 1941 he was Commanding Officer, 2nd Australian Armoured Brigade, then General Officer Commanding 2nd Australian Cavalry Division, followed by General Officer Commanding 2nd Australian Motor Division in 1942-1943. In 1943 he was the Chief Administration Officer Northern Territory Force, and at the end of the war was Chairman of the Permanent Post-War Planning Committee.

William James Macavoy Locke died at the age of 67, on 3 April 1962. He was buried at the St Kilda Cemetery, Melbourne.