[page last updated 24 May 2015]
Roll of Honour Data Page
James Bernard Spencer
1920 Chesterton RD, Cambridgeshire, England
591 Antrim Parachute Squadron RE
12 July 1941 commission from rank of cadet at OCTU to 2nd Lieutenant.
20 June 1944 commissioned at rank of 2nd Lieutenant
7 Aug 1945 M.I.D
16 June 1952, resigned commission in British Army to take up a posting with the Australian Military. He and his wife and eldest daughter emigrated by ship in 1952.
Son of Lt. Col. Bernard Lockey (1892- ? ) a Schoolmaster, of 20 Woodcrest Road, Purley
and his wife Eva Gwen Green (1892-1968)
After Bernard's retirement, in 1954 they sailed to Australia to visit their son and his family.
1968-1971 spent two years in Singapore and Malasia.
1946 to Kathleen Mary Ninniss (1921-2007)
at Brighton RD, England
29 June 2006 aged 85 Vaucluse, New South Wales, Australia
Obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper. 31 July 2006 Issue. See transcription below.
His daughter Judy Lockey competed as Miss Australia in the 1967 Miss World Beauty Pageant in London.
Like so many old soldiers, James Lockey didn't like to talk about the war. He didn't much like war. He had left it behind him. Yet he had a distinguished war record and had left an unusual mark on its history. When suddenly required to provide an urgent crossing over the River Orne in Normandy in World War II, Lockey seized on the idea of using the swollen carcasses of a herd of cows killed in an earlier action as floats for an impromptu bridge. That earned him a place in the official history of the Royal Engineers.
James Bernard Spencer Lockey, who has died at 85, was born in Cambridge, England, the only child of Bernard Lockey and his wife, Gwen. His father was a schoolteacher who had been a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps in World War I and was to be a lieutenant-colonel in World War II. Father and son were to meet in Cairo at the end of that war.
Young Lockey - known as Ginger in England because of his red hair and Jim after he came to Australia - was studying for an engineering degree when World War II broke out. He promptly enlisted and received a commission in the Royal Engineers. The corps motto, Ubique (Everywhere), might have been invented with Lockey in mind. His first action, in May 1940, was as a commando with a force that went to Norway to destroy a shipping terminal being used to send iron ore to Germany. He acquired a Nazi dirk in the hand-to-hand fighting. In November 1942 he joined Operation Torch, landing in North Africa for actions which ended in May 1943 with the surrender of the German and Italian forces in Tunisia.
Back in England he was appointed adjutant of the engineer parachute battalion of the 6th Airborne Division, being raised to spearhead the invasion of Europe. The battalion parachuted in shortly after midnight on D-Day. With the commanding officer missing on the ground, Lockey, aged 23, took command of the battalion.
[NB- this paragraph is not factually correct. Please refer to the Squadron War Diaries and History for Lockey's escapades in the Antrims. ]
He was later mentioned in dispatches for his efforts. And he put the dead cows to good use. Lockey used to say that his men followed him not so much for his leadership skills but out of a sense of curiosity. There was always something interesting round the corner.
At Kessel in Holland he led an audacious two-man reconnaissance patrol, crossing the flooding River Maas to the enemy bank by canoe, in darkness and pouring rain. Crawling on their stomachs under the noses of the German defenders, he and his sergeant made a detailed survey of the enemy positions, tripwires, minefields and an antitank ditch, their journey enlivened by a so-called friendly mortar barrage fired from the British side of the river. Sleepless for three days, Lockey dropped off within two metres of a German sentry box. The men recovered their canoe, crossed the river again and successfully reported back. Wounded at the Rhine crossing, Lockey remained on duty but carried shrapnel in his back for the rest of his life.
He met his future wife, Kathleen Ninnis, at a skating rink in Brighton. They married in 1946 but by then the 6th Airborne Division was in Palestine, where its thankless and dangerous task was to keep order between the Arabs and the Jews as the latter flooded in from Europe. Lockey was present on July 22, when Jewish insurgents blew up the headquarters of the British Army in the King David Hotel, killing 95 and wounding many more.
After some time as a civilian in England, Lockey joined the Royal Australian Engineers. He went to Maralinga, South Australia, in 1956 with his reinforced troop of army engineers to prepare for the series of atomic tests known as Operation Buffalo. His men built two high towers on which the first and fourth bomb of the series were to be exploded. A visiting British cabinet minister insisted on climbing the single narrow ladder that led to the top but froze about 13 metres up. To get him down, Lockey had to hang down head first from the same ladder, prizing the unfortunate man's hands free one finger at a time. Major Owen Magee climbed up the ladder to work on the visitor's feet from below. Magee had the easier job, but the two men rescued the embarrassed minister.
In 1962 Lockey joined the School of Military Engineering at Liverpool, in charge of the Combat Engineering Wing. Most of the young officers and other ranks whom he taught went on to lead Australian engineers in the Vietnam War. He later joined the Far East Land Force in Singapore. Retiring from the army, Lockey embarked on a successful second career as representative of WA Flick, the pest control company, first in Sydney and later in Honolulu and Singapore. He finally retired at 75 to the Lockey home at Vaucluse. He is survived by Kath and their children: Judy, who represented Australia in a Miss World competition in 1967, her husband, Richard Savage, and their children, James and Katherine; Susan Allison; and Michael, his wife, Sandra, and their son, Cameron. His grandchildren knew him as "Big Bear". Tony Stephens
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