Harry Locke - Death of a best mate

Running time
3 min 27
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


One of our actions, our battalion was ordered into action when the Germans broke through the outside salient and we were told we would be supported by six British tanks on our left flank, well we moved in, I think it was about a quarter to five in the afternoon and we noticed these tanks out about 1000 yards out on our left flank and when they turned they had swastikas on them, they didn't have British flags and, of course, we were in a sort of a low dip in the ground and the first thing you do is hit the ground and my No. 2 on the gun he used to carry the box of magazines, he used to have about 12 magazines in a box, he said to me, "I think I'll stand these up for protection", you know, and we were getting fired on by machine guns mainly, and mortars, and he no sooner did it and we got a burst of fire and a bullet went through the box of magazines and through his throat and killed him instantly and the story, the long story about it was that.

I was able to reach over and take his wallet and because when we came back from the Middle-East after El Alamein we only had fifteen days leave and I got married and we returned to the unit and I never had any chance to contact anybody and return the wallet, but fifty years later, fifty years later I got a phone call from a gentleman in Adelaide, he was a police sergeant and he asked me if I was a member of the 2/48th Battalion and I said "Yes" and he said, "You wouldn't have known my brother?" And I said, "Well, what was his name?" He said, "Alan Porter" I said. "Yes, he was the No. 2 on my gun" and I said, if you're ever in Renmark I've got something I'd like to present you with."

He turned up about two or three weeks later with his two sisters and I presented them with the wallet and he wouldn't open the wallet in front of me. I said, "No, take it home." It was a lovely surprise for him, not a really nice surprise. He was only about three years old when this happened, you see, and of course he didn't know anything about his brother, so that was one of the worst things, losing your best mate plus others, but he was more with me than anybody, and anyway, it was so long, at least fifty years but I never opened it.

I had it wrapped in a soft-tissues just to protect it and it was left in the drawer of my cupboard and I never looked at it and thought one day I'll be able to contact somebody and the elder [sic] brother contacted me which was good, really wonderful and he always rings me on the 1 May of every year because that was the day his brother was killed. It's a sort of reminder, he doesn't ring me, I always ring him. That's the usual thing.

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