Harry Locke's story
Harry Locke enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at Renmark, South Australia in 1940. He travelled by train with about 200 other recruits to Adelaide, where he became part of the 2/48th Infantry Battalion.
Harry served as a Bren gunner at Tobruk, in Libya, and was promoted to lance-corporal after service there. He recalled the constant bombing that was endured during the siege at Tobruk.
Later, Harry served at El Alamein, where his platoon suffered heavy casualties, one being his best mate and No 2 on his Bren gun, Alan Porter. After the battle, Harry was promoted to lance sergeant.
Once back home in Australia, Harry was made a sergeant. After training in the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland, the 2/48th Battalion was sent to Port Moresby in Papua.
From Port Moresby, Harry's battalion was sent north to participate in the Lae campaign. Harry remembered the landing there being quite easy, but recalled being attacked by Japanese twin-engined bombers on the approach to the beach. Nearby Lightning fighters from the United States air force shot down the Japanese planes.
The 2/48th Battalion was the most highly decorated Australian infantry unit of World War II. The unit included Tom Derrick VC, whom Harry had known well before the war and described as a 'bit of a loner'.