William Wellings Locke (1894-1917)
Private William Wellings Locke was born in 1894 in Wandsworth, London, Surrey, the son of William Locke OBE and his wife Emily May Eastlake. Emily was the daughter of William Henry Eastlake, schoolmaster and Unitarian minister, and his wife Mary Elizabeth Wellings, both from Tavistock, Devon. William was with his parents in the 1901 and 1911 censuses, identified as an architecture student in the 1911 census. In February 1915, he enlisted and joined the 133rd Field Ambulance of the Royal Army Medical Corps, service number 88584. These were the mobile units that operated very close to the combat zones.
William was killed in action in West Flanders on 25 July 1917. The unit was involved in so many of the major battles on the Western Front that it is not possible to exactly place his death. After the Battle of the Somme and other major engagements in 1916, the unit took part in the following battles in 1917: Pilkem Ridge, Langemarck, Menin Road Ridge, Polygon Wood and the Second Battle of Passchendaele. Sometime between Messines Ridge and the start of the Third Battle of Ypres at Pilkem Ridge on 31 July 1917, he lost his life on the front lines.
The Imperial War Museums have preserved a clipping from the Architectural Association Journal of August 1917 which describes William:
In William Wellings Locke the Association has lost an old student of quite unusual individuality and promise … It is no surprise to learn that his coolness under fire was a great inspiration to his comrades, for it might well be said of him that whatever he put his hand to he did with all his might.
William is buried at Gwalia Cemetery in Belgium, only opened at the beginning of July 1917. He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
‘Private William Wellings Locke, Architectural Association Journal (Aug 1917), accessed at Imperial War Museums, © IWM (HU 117300), http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205393701, [accessed 2 Jul 2016].
‘Gwalia Cemetery’, World War One Cemeteries, http://www.ww1cemeteries.com/ww1cemeteries/gwaliacemetery.htm, [accessed 2 Jul 2016].
‘133rd Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps’, The Wartime Memories Project, http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=12880, [accessed 2 Jul 2016].
‘Private William Wellings Locke’, Architectural Association Journal (Aug 1917), accessed at Imperial War Museums, © IWM (HU 117300), http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205393701, [accessed 2 Jul 2016].
‘Private William Wellings Locke’, full-length portrait presented by his mother, part of ‘Bond of Sacrifice – First World War Portraits Collection’, Imperial War Museums, © IWM (HU 124254), http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205393700, [accessed 2 Jul 2016].