RAYMOND LOCK – ABLE SEAMAN RNVR. SA. -67699
by John Bailey
Key words (tags): Ray Lock, John Bailey,Flotsam and Jetsam, books, the Book ‘Bismarck, Dorsetshire and Memories’, autobiography, war stories, memoirs, Royal Navy, military history, naval battles, naval history, South Africans
Sourced fromFLOTSAM AND JETSAMVol. 50 August 2002 No 209Vol. 50 August 2002 No 209
GOLDEN JUBILEE EDITION
(and sent to me some years ago by my dear dad, which I‘m sharing on the www to help preserve his memory, and most importantly, to share his unique eye-witness account of epic battles from WW II through the amazing power of the net.
On a crisp, but sunny autumnal morning earlier this year, I made my way through the narrow but picturesque Harfield Village — one of Cape Town’s popular “Chelsea” areas. Streets bearing the names of English counties abound and instantly become a constant – if not a little nostalgic -reminder as I ambled through Hereford and Leicester, before reaching my ultimate destination in Sussex …..
I welcomed the soft and comfortable sofa that greeted me on my arrival at No 17, but no sooner had I seated myself than a dapper gentleman appeared and whose right hand was quick to come forward in a sincere gesture of greeting …..
Raymond Lock – “Ray” to his family and friends — was instantly recognizable from his TV image as being a member of the congregation who had recently attended the sixtieth anniversary service at Simons Town, which recalled the sinking of HMS CORNWALL and HMS DORSETSHIRE on Easter Sunday 1942. It was not long before Ray was recounting his own experiences for me …
Born in the then Southern Rhodesian town of Bulawayo on 7 January 1923, Ray completed his education at the South African College High School in Cape Town. Although not yet seventeen years of age, he “bluffed” his real date of birth, and signed on for the Air Force in November of 1939. A change of heart soon found this intrepid young lad heading for Simon‘s Town, where he duly enlisted for service in the Navy. It was nor long before Ray was posted for duty to Klawer Camp on Red Hill – a naval installation that commanded an excellent view of the naval base in the bay below. However, by the Autumn of 1940, be was at sea, having been seconded to the 8-inch cruiser — HMS DORSETSHIRE —· as an able seaman.
In the May of 1941 — and in company with HMS RODNEY, HMS KING GEORGE V and HMS ARK ROYAL — HMS DORSETSHIRE succeeded in routing the German battleship BISMARCK in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is interesting to note that Ray Look was aboard HMS DORSETSHIRE, as the cruiser fired the final torpedoes into the already crippled battleship …..
Japan’s entry into the war in the December of 1941, opened up a new frontier of conflict for the allies and by the end of March of`1942, an attack on the island of Ceylon seemed imminent.
Shortly before midnight on Easter: Saturday — 4 April — HMS DORSETSHIRE, under the command of Captain Augustus Agar VC and HMS CORNWALL, under the command of Captain P C W Mainwaring (or Manwaring??) sailed from the Ceylonese port of Colombo. Their objective was to rendezvous with Admiral·Somervi1le some hundred of miles to the South at 16.00 on the following afternoon, and so be able to present a united front to the enemy.
In his definitive study on the Japanese assault on Ceylon entitled “The Most Dangerous Moment”,
Michael Tomlinson recalls that “shortly after one o’çlock (Sunday 5th April) with all men at action stations, numerous radio contacts were picked up (by HMS CORNWALL and HMS DORSETSHIRE…wireless silence was now broken to notify Admiral Somerville of their position (and) to report the enemy shadowing and possibility of an air attack
(The Japanese) wasted not a moment on sighting the two cruisers…(and) scored hit after hit from the word go….The line of attack seemed to have been carefully worked out in advance…..
Young Ray Lock, one of the Dorsetshire’s crew serving a 4 inch ack-ack gun amidships and fuming at their hopelessly restricted field of fire, found himself flung to the deck ten feet below by a blast from a bomb. Shaken, he got to his feet, intent on getting back to the gun; but was startled to see only two blackened stumps, where the twin gun barrels had been and the rest of the crew dead or badly wounded. Only some time later, noticing a squelching sound in his shoes, did he find them filling with blood and realized that he was seriously wounded in the chest and legs …..0nly eight minutes after the first bomb hit, her bows rose above the sea, where by now most of her company were floundering in the hot oily water, and she was gone….Much the same could be said for HMS CORNWALL….Lieutenant Geoffrey Grove relates:
“When at 1.40 pm the Jap planes struck, the first bomb hit the CORNWALL’s port-side, astern…We had something like fifteen hits in about seven minutes and the poor old girl took up a bigger list than ever and started to settle….once clear of the ship (I) turned around and waited for her to go, which she did quite quietly, bows first. Her stern came up into the air and she slid down, one propeller revolving slowly.”
Ray was quick to recall that having abandoned ship, he found himself swimming in a sea that was both warm and dead calm, excepting for a layer of oil that had already begun to ooze up and out of the sunken cruiser. He was to spend some seven hours in the water, before being dragged into a life-boat to endure a full day and night, before being rescued by HMAS PALADIN and transported to Addu Atoll in the Maldive Islands. Here Ray was transferred to a merchant ship to await the arrival of the hospital ship HMNS VITA, aboard which he returned to South Africa towards the end of April.
In his certificate for “Wounds and Hurts”, Surgeon Captain OD Brownfeld notes that Ray sustained a “gun shot through (the) left ankle with (a) fracture of the neck of the astragalus, as well as a “shrapnel wound to the left of (the) middle of (the) sternum.” However, the doctor makes `no mention of the pieces of shrapnel that have surfaced throughout Ray’s body over the past sixty years!
Glancing suddenly at my watch, I realized how quickly the time had passed… a quick “photo-call” was needed to recall the event and Ray, with bags packed, was soon to return to Durban…. Like so many men and women of his era, his quiet unassuming manner certainly gives one no indication as to the emotional suffering that he surely endured at so young an age; however, his inner bravery and strength was to shine forth during an interview recorded by The Daily News – a Durban tabloid in September of 1987: Of course, in dangerous situations we were scared, but you have to react. The bravest thing we did was signing the recruiting form.”
Go well, Ray
Sourced from FLOTSAM AND JETSAM
GOLDEN JUBILEE EDITION
“Man is mind
and evermore he takes the tool of thought
and, shaping what he wills,
brings forth a thousand joys,
a thousand ills.
He thinks in secret
and it comes to pass –
Environment is but his looking glass.”
Thanks so much for sharing these words so often with me, dad. Your spirit (“driven”) lives on, as I “work” * on sharing your unique story.
* It’s not really “work”, but a “labour of love”.
For further info on my dad’s book, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The empires of the future are the empires of the mind”
– Winston Churchill (in an adress to Harvard University in 1943)
“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind”– Winston Churchill (in an adress to Harvard University in 1943)
To celebrate the birth of our special Ray
Marked the birth of little R.C
An only child was this tiny tot
known to all
As Raymond Carruthers Lock
The best in the country round
Not yet in Newlands, was this fine school
But in Orange Street, could be found
Was filled with sport and many a jack *
Lots of pranks, he loves to recall
of blackboard dusters climbing the wall
Not sure ’bout’ schoolwork
and what he was taught
But rugby, tennis, cross-country and cricket
In fact this chap kept a fine wicket
Lied ’bout’ his age
So nobody would know
To the ‘Dorsetshire’ was he sent
But after a Jap bombing
Down she went
17 long hours in the water he swam
5th April 1942
This young boy, now a man
For many long years, almost 24
Many a sale, had this fine fellow
Because of his socks, which were only yellow!
Kyalami, KIllarney or any track indeed.
Even no brakes could deter this keen man
Speeding down Kloofnek
Into a garage he rammed
Speeding at 130 mph, made me sick
Tapping his shoulder I’d yell at last
Slow down now, You are going too fast!
The golf bug hit bad and for many years did last
Only the same 4 ball would do
Lock and Maddock and Hodson by two
Each shot analysed, each mistake
18 long holes, but the 19th took the cake!
Couldn’t stand Naas, that’s for sure
Gainsford, Dawie and Morne were his men
Newlands his ground…that was then!
Took him to the land of the Sharks you know
So the tales of Province have got less and less
And he now proclaims Natal is the best!
Blue and White got packed away
Black and White became the order of the day
Funny though, come holiday
Where do you find him? At Bantry Bay!
Sipping on the Balcony, is what he loves to do
Scanning for Sharks in the big White and Blue!
Matches or notes or even the Met
A tale is told of the noonday gun
Augie was there, and so was Dick’s bum!
Oh the games, he loves to play
Oh the hours wasted away
Augie and Steve could tell you so much more
Alan too, that’s for sure
You all know well, without having to think
J and B and ice, too much water a waste
Too much water spoils the taste
He also loves rum, but a very special kind
Pussers the name, but so hard to find
Is a stickler for time
Altho’ he did not used to be
Watches are set,
Then checked and rechecked
Punctuality is a priority
Lunching at Splashes, a stones’ throw away
A baked potato, fish or toasted cheese
Anything… but no garlic please!!
We thank God, that this is now clear
No dreadful mooty, to force in your tum
No more pipes, up your bum!
You’re 80 today and still in fine fettle
I’ve heard it said “a man of mettle”
Yet, with a softening in your heart
Of which God has really played the part
Dad, you really are great and look so well
80 years old…that sure doesn’t tell
So thanks to the whisky, the rum and the wine
You’re preserved in alcohol and that is just fine!
A note of seriousness, for this fine chum
Be you a friend or my Dad or just Ray
You are special and treasured and always will be
Today the 7th January 2003