Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Charles Herbert Locke (1910–1977)

by John Perkins

This article was published:

Charles Herbert Locke (1910-1977), by Ronald Keith Monro, 1943

Charles Herbert Locke (1910-1977), by Ronald Keith Monro, 1943

Australian War Memorial, 052679

Charles Herbert Locke (1910-1977), company director and fund-raiser for charity, was born on 21 September 1910 at Turramurra, Sydney, fifth of seven children of William Henry Locke, an insurance manager from London, and his Victorian-born wife Alice Henrietta, née Westcott. Charles came from a Methodist background. Educated at Newington College (1920-25) and at Wrekin College, a public school in Shropshire, England, he joined his father in the Sydney office of the Royal Exchange Assurance Co. of London. After a brief stint as a jackeroo, young Locke worked for the Prudential Assurance Co. Ltd and rose to be its Sydney managing agent with power of attorney for the British Equitable Assurance Co. Ltd from mid-1938. On 14 April 1936 he had married Lesley Alison Vine (d.1972) at All Saints Church, St Kilda, Melbourne; they were to have three sons and a daughter.

Commissioned (1938) in the Militia, Locke transferred to the Australian Imperial Force on 27 April 1940 and was promoted captain, Australian Army Service Corps, in July. He served with 9th Division headquarters in the Middle East in 1941-43: he took part in the defence of Tobruk, Libya, and was mentioned in dispatches. Based in Australia from February 1943, he was sent to New Guinea in October that year. In January 1945 he was appointed to command 'Z' Special Unit which operated behind enemy lines; one month later he was promoted temporary lieutenant colonel (confirmed in September). He transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 4 May 1946 and resumed his career in the insurance business. With Warren Carpenter, he established Carpenter Locke Pty Ltd in 1948 and became managing director of this underwriting agency which later added a brokerage business.

From 1953 Locke's business career was essentially that of a non-executive, independent director of numerous Australian companies, including Toohey's Ltd (chairman from 1971), the Australia Hotel Co. Ltd, Newcastle Wallsend Coal Co. Ltd (Peko-Wallsend Ltd), Commercial & General Acceptance Ltd, Australian Equity Corporation Ltd, Permanent Trustee Co. of New South Wales Ltd and the local board of Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd. He was appointed chairman when Gerardus Dusseldorp established Lend Lease Corporation Ltd in 1958 and was deputy-chairman from 1962. Locke was later chairman of International Computers (Australia) Pty Ltd and of Louis Klein's clothing manufacturers, Anthony Squires Pty Ltd.

On the basis of his obvious talents as a businessman, his connexions, his organizing abilities and a long-standing commitment to serving the community, Locke proved an active fund-raiser for such endeavours as Cranbrook, Frensham and St Andrew's Cathedral Choir schools, and for various causes connected with medical research and services (including the National Heart Foundation, the Children's Medical Research Foundation and the Sydney District Nursing Association). In 1965 he succeeded Rear Admiral Buchanan as chairman of the Australian Outward Bound Memorial Foundation, a position he was to hold until 1977. In 1968 Locke was appointed O.B.E. From the early 1950s he was an active parishioner of St Mark's Anglican Church, Darling Point—as church council-member (from 1954), churchwarden (from 1960) and rector's warden (from 1971).

At St Mark's on 10 May 1973 he married Mary Clare Gregory, née Luya, a widow and close family friend. Locke's major recreational activity was golf, combined with an enthusiasm for horse-racing. These interests were reflected in his membership of the Australian, Union, Tattersall's, the Australian Jockey, Royal Sydney Golf and Elanora Country clubs, as well as the Melbourne Club and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Scotland. While visiting the United States of America, he died of myocardial infarction on 15 May 1977 at San Francisco and was cremated; his ashes were interred in St Mark's, Sydney. He was survived by his wife and by the children of his first marriage.

Select Bibliography

  • Sydney Morning Herald, 29 June 1938, 29 Mar 1958, 29 Nov 1965, 17 May 1977
  • funeral address by the late Canon J. Whild (held by author)
  • private information.

Citation details

John Perkins, 'Locke, Charles Herbert (1910–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Charles Herbert Locke (1910-1977), by Ronald Keith Monro, 1943

Charles Herbert Locke (1910-1977), by Ronald Keith Monro, 1943

Australian War Memorial, 052679

Life Summary [details]


21 September, 1910
Turramurra, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


15 May, 1977 (aged 66)
San Francisco, California, United States of America

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Military Service