Sub Branch Museum Feature Story
A series of feature articles based on different items of memorabilia currently displayed in the Ballina RSL Sub Branch Museum will be featured here on Ballina Club Life Online
Recently loaned to our museum by Mr Kevin Locke were some ‘trench art’ items that were handmade by his father, Richard Hunter Locke. Such items serve to reflect the incredible amount of ingenuity displayed by soldiers during the terrible conditions of war as they endeavoured to occupy themselves in the trenches. Pictured in the accompanying photo here is an Officer’s Peak Cap and a Soldier’s Slouch hat that Richard Locke made out of an artillery shell whilst being confined in the battle trenches.
Richard Locke served in the First Light Horse Regiment during the 1914 – 1918 War. After his horse was killed in Egypt, he was assigned to the role of a ‘Gunner’ and transferred through to the battlefields in France to assume his new duties. Whilst fighting in the Battle of the Somme, he was surprised to learn that a young man positioned beside him in the trenches one day was indeed his young nephew whom he had never met back home in Australia. His nephew was only 17 years of age.
Richard, who heralded from Mungindi in North Western NSW, was only 24 when he enlisted. He served for a period of 3 years and 296 days. During this time away at war, Richard received a great many letters from family, friends and the many Australian women back on our home shores who supported our soldiers with a constant stream of good wishes and gifts to help raise their spirits. One such woman who wrote to Richard was a young lady named Esther Tribe. Esther and her family also heralded from the country community of Mungindi. Upon Richard’s safe return from the battlefields of World War One, he happened to meet up with Esther and they were soon married out on the Locke family property of ‘Edenvale’ (located west of Weemelah).
The next time you are passing through the Ballina RSL Club, be sure to pop into the Ballina RSL Sub-Branch Museum to view Richard Locke’s skilled workmanship. There is also a photo of Richard in an album full of postcards that he collected throughout his period of service on foreign soil. Many thanks to Kevin Locke for loaning these treasured keepsakes in memory of his father – Richard Hunter Locke.