By Commander Neil Westphalen, RAN
LIONEL LOCKWOOD was born in Natimuk, Victoria on 13 January 1902, the eldest of four children to Alfred Wright Lockwood, a journalist and owner of the West Wimmera Mail newspaper, and Alice Ellen née Francis. After Alice’s death Alfred married Ida Dorothea Klowss, thereby adding three more children to the family. Lionel’s brother Rupert Ernest was a journalist and Communist Party member, who became involved in the 1954 Petrov spy case. By coincidence the story of the Petrov defection was broken by his half-brother Douglas, an award winning journalist.
Although his father was Anglican, his mother Church of Christ and his step-mother Lutheran, Lionel converted to Catholicism on marrying Evelyn Loretto Shelton on 29 August 1925 in Melbourne. This eventually resulted in Lockwood’s appointment as a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in 1974, in recognition of his charitable and professional works. They had one son and three daughters and after Evelyn’s death in 1977, Lionel married Daisy Margaret Paterson in 1980.
Lionel was educated at Ballarat High School, and studied medicine at Melbourne University from 1919 to 1923.He was a member of the Queen’s College cricket team and awarded a blue for football in 1919, becoming College football team captain in 1920. Dr Lockwood entered the Navy as a Lieutenant on 12 November 1924, and initially served ashore at HMAS Cerberus. At that time the Director of Naval Medical Services (DNMS)was Captain C.A.G. Phipps RN, who was relieved by the first RAN DNMS (Captain Leonard Darby) in March 1927. Darby introduced the first variations from RN medical practice to suit local conditions, including a qualification-based pay system. Even so, the Medical Journal of Australia noted in 1932 that conditions of service for Navy MOs were impaired by poor pay, lack of promotion beyond Commander, and restricted access to postgraduate training. Lockwood’s decision to join the Navy therefore seems somewhat courageous, especially as it did not sponsor undergraduates until Lockwood himself introduced the scheme in 1957.
Lockwood joined HMAS Moresby in September 1925, just after she arrived in Australia for survey duties on the Great Barrier Reef. He returned to Cerberus in September 1928 for a doctorate of medicine in pathology at the Alfred Hospital. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in May 1930 and joined HMAS Australia in March 1933. In the same year he was appointed a Member of the Victorian Order for his services to the Duke of Gloucester, who had represented King George V during the Victorian state centenary celebrations. Lockwood later became the Duke’s honorary physician when he returned to Australia as Governor General in 1945-47.
Lockwood left Australia in January 1936 for a promotion course at the RN College at Greenwich, where he achieved first place. He was promoted to Commander in May 1936 (12months early) and undertook a postgraduate medicine and surgery course at the London Hospital. However, in February 1937, for reasons unknown, he sustained a nervous breakdown for which he was medically surveyed and returned home. He then served as a surgical specialist at the Naval Wing, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick.
The outbreak of war doubled RAN personnel numbers within the first three months. Although Lockwood’s initial wartime service ashore therefore would have seen a considerable increase in the volume of clinical work, its nature probably did not change, noting that casualty numbers from the Mediterranean and elsewhere at that time were relatively low. Lockwood joined HMAS Hobart as Squadron MO on 21 February 1941. Following convoy escort duties, Hobart returned to Sydney for a short refit, and sailed for the Mediterranean on 20 June to replace HMAS Perth after the latter had been bombed off Crete. Hobart’s Mediterranean service included convoy escort duties, supporting the Tobruk Ferry Run, shore bombardments of the Axis in North Africa, and the Vichy French in Syria.
With the entry of Japan into the war, Hobart proceeded to Singapore, where she encountered heavy air raids on arrival on 1 February 1942. Two days later Hobart beat off more air attacks while picking up 57 survivors (including 28 wounded) from the Norah Moller, plus another six casualties who died before she arrived at Tanjong Priok the following day. Further patrols were made from Tanjong Priok, however despite more heavy air raids Hobart was not hit. Lack of fuel meant Hobart missed the Battle of the Java Sea, and she left on 27 February for Padang. En route Lockwood operated on a sailor from the destroyer HMS Tenedos, removing the largest appendix he had ever seen. From Padang Hobart proceeded to Colombo, and returned to Sydney via Fremantle and Adelaide. Lockwood was awarded the DSC …for bravery and endurance…during this period.
Hobart participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Allied landings at Guadal canal. She returned to Brisbane on 3 September and resumed patrolling the Coral Sea. Lockwood left Hobart on 17 April 1943, and spent the rest of the war specialising in pathology and bacteriology at Cerberus. Unlike his initial wartime shore service, it is likely that his clinical workload included tropical infectious disease and battle casualties, the latter probably including the more severely injured Melbourne-homeported members from Australia after kamikaze suicide attacks in October 1944 (30dead, 64 wounded) and January 1945 (48 dead, 68 wounded).
Lockwood’s wartime sea service coincided with the heaviest RAN casualties in WW II. All of HMAS Sydney’s crew were lost in November 1941 off Carnavon WA, including Commander John Hasker RAN (joined 1928), Lieutenant Commander Francis Genge RAN (1936), and Lieutenant (D) Mervyn Townsend RAN (1940). A week later Lieutenant Charles Harrington RANR (1939) went missing after HMAS Parramatta was torpedoed in the Mediterranean. Lieutenant Commander(D) Alleyne Tregear RAN (1927) and Lieutenant Commander Eric Tymms DSC RANR (1935) were lost and Lieutenant Sam Stening RANR (1939) became a prisoner of war when Perth was sunk in the Sunda Strait. Three days later HMAS Yarra was sunk with the loss of Lieutenant William McLaren-Robinson RAN (1938). Although there were no casualties among HMAS Canberra’s medical staff at Savo Island, Lieutenant John Gaskell RANR (1941) was killed when Hobart was torpedoed off Espiritu Santo after Lockwood was posted ashore. Lockwood was therefore arguably fortunate to have survived.
Lockwood was promoted to acting Captain in January 1946.He was Medical Officer-In-Charge (MOIC) at Cerberus from December 1946 to January 1950, and was posted to Balmoral Naval Hospital (BNH) at HMAS Penguin as its first MOIC and Command Medical Officer to the Flag Officer East Australia Area. He maintained a visible presence of naval medicine in postgraduate activities in both Melbourne and Sydney, and was immensely proud of his affiliations with the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Alfred and St Vincent’s Hospitals and the Peter MacCallum Clinic, as well as the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.
Lockwood was promoted to Rear Admiral and appointed DNMS in March 1955. He became Chairman of the Defence Medical Services Committee from 1958, which included chairing the Defence Medical Services Rationalisation Committee from 1962. He retired on 12 January 1964, and was relieved by Captain (later Rear Admiral) Robert ‘Mumbles’ Coplans RAN.
The late Rear Admiral John Cotsell AO RAN (DGNHS 1970-76) described Lockwood as …shrewd as a wagon load of monkeys. Besides establishing the undergraduate medical scheme used to this day, Cotsell credited Lockwood with the re-establishment of the RAN Nursing Service after the disbandment of the wartime service in 1948. The establishment of the RAN Diving Branch in 1951 eventually resulted in Lockwood’s invitation to Lieutenant Commander Rex Gray RANR to resign his civilian anaesthetist practice for a four-year short service commission. The need for Gray’s services was highlighted by a diving fatality on his arrival. This led to Lockwood establishing the RAN School of Underwater Medicine (now the Submarine and Underwater Medicine Unit, or SUMU).
Lockwood’s encouragement of the reserve medical branch resulted in at least eight reserve protégés reaching Captain, including Kevin Rickard, who described his recruiting interview in November 1961: Admiral Lockwood…was adamant that on joining the RANR a medical officer should participate actively and fully, and he maintained that a naval medical officer was a Naval officer first and then secondly a medical officer. He wanted to be assured that I was not joining the RANR simply to be able to gain entry into the then prestigious Melbourne Naval and Military Club, of which he was a serious and most respected member. I certainly relaxed during the interview and felt a real affinity with this man who seemed to see me as someone with potential and who should be encouraged. At the end of the interview which probably lasted about an hour he stood up – congratulated me and said ‘Dr Rickard, I will approve your entry into the RANR and henceforth from this date you are Surgeon Lieutenant, RANR.
Rear Admiral Brian Treloar AO RAN (DGNHS 1981-1987) wrote: At all times he was a strict disciplinarian yet a man who encouraged his junior medical officers to gain further knowledge. Weekly rounds at BNH were conducted to every nook and cranny of the hospital and ancillary buildings, and woe betide the neglect of any staff member whose part of ship did not meet his approval. At the same time he spoke to every patient in hospital and enquired at length into their treatment and progress. On the clinical side, he was always available for constructive consultation on any difficult case and was always able to offer helpful advice.
Rear Admiral Geoff Bayliss AM RAN (DGNHS 1987-1991) wrote: When I was a fifth year student my Naval career took something of a nose dive [when] I…had to repeat the year. The Naval regulations allowed one to repeat the year on full pay but [the] university fees had to be paid by the student. The Medical Director General also had to approve the student repeating the year. Fortunately for me Admiral Lockwood gave his approval….However, I shall never forget his parting words of advice which were: ‘The Navy is a good fairy godmother but do not push her too far’!
Rear Admiral Lockwood was Honorary Surgeon to the King in 1946-52, and to the Queen from 1952.He was appointed CBE on 1 January 1957, admitted to Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1958, and to Fellowship of the (Royal) Australian College of Medical Administrators in 1967.He was also heavily involved with the Australian Red Cross, St John Ambulance, and the British Medical Association. He also chaired a committee which became the Maritime Trust of Australia, and it was during his tenure as vice-chairman that it was gifted the WWII corvette HMAS Castlemaine, now a museum ship. Lockwood died on 19 September 1987 in Melbourne, and was buried at the Boroodara Cemetery in Kew. He was survived by his second wife and three children from his first marriage.
Lionel Lockwood came a long way from a small Victorian country town. He was immensely proud to be a Naval Medical Officer and a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. With five years as MOIC Cerberus, another five as MOIC BNH followed by eight as DNMS, Lockwood was pivotal to the Navy’s post-war health services. It is noteworthy that no less than five of his PNF protégés achieved two-star rank, before the 1989 Sanderson Report reduced the DGNHS position to a one-star billet. Lockwood’s post war career also included commissioning BNH, and instigating the first permanent peacetime naval nursing service, the undergraduate medical training scheme, and SUMU. The end of his service coincided with the Indonesian Confrontation, the stirrings of Australian involvement in Vietnam, and the aftermath of the Melbourne-Voyager collision. His legacy therefore underwent considerable testing in the years following his retirement, and arguably remains relevant even today.