Munro, Lockwood Graham

Lockwood, or Lock as he was known to his mates, was born in Toowoomba, Queensland on the 22nd December 1917. He enlisted in the RAAF in Brisbane on the 8th November 1940.

After his initial training and passing out of No. 57 OTU at RAF Hawarden in Wales, Lock was posted to 457 Squadron in January 1942. At that time, the Squadron was based at Andreas on the Isle of Man. 

The Squadron had had a slow introduction to active operations. Declared operational on the 7th August 1941, it escorted convoys and patrolled over the seas to Britain’s west, but much of its time was devoted to training. The Squadron effectively became an operational training unit, preparing Spitfire pilots for other squadrons, particularly 452 Squadron RAAF, that were more actively engaged.

With the imminent return of 452 Squadron to Australia, 457 Squadron was redeployed for more active service with 11 Group at Redhill, just south of London, on the 22nd March 1942. For the next two months, it conducted patrols over southeast England and the English Channel, and escorted bombing raids and conducted sweeps to engage enemy aircraft in the skies above occupied France and Belgium.

Under orders to return to Australia, 457 Squadron withdrew from operations in Britain on the 28th May 1942. It sailed for home on the 21st June, arrived in Melbourne on the 13th August 1942, and re-assembled at Richmond on the 6th September 1942. The Squadron then began refresher training at Richmond with a motley collection of aircraft, its Spitfires having being commandeered in transit by the Royal Air Force in the Middle East. MUNRO L. G. Pic 6

Lock was still with the Squadron when it returned to front-line service on the 20th January 1943. It became part of No.1 Fighter Wing defending Darwin and was initially based at Batchelor in the Northern Territory. The Squadron relocated to Livingstone on the 31st January 1943. While there, it was re-equipped with an updated version of the Spitfire, imported from Britain, which arrived in a grey and green camouflage scheme. This led to the Squadron nicknaming itself the “Grey Nurse Squadron” and adorning its aircraft with a distinctive shark’s mouth on the nose. 

Lock became a Flying Officer in March 1943 and remained with the Squadron until September of that year. Later, he attended No. 8 OTU RAAF at Parkes and was posted back to 457 Squadron in June 1945.

At that stage of the War, 457 Squadron was participating in the Borneo Campaign as part of No.81 Wing. On the 17th June 1945, its Spitfires departed Morotai for Labuan Island off the north-west coast of Borneo and commenced operations two days later alongside 76 Squadron RAAF. Their primary roles were to provide air support to Allied troops in the area and air defence for the island. Operations against the Japanese continued until the Squadron  mounted its last operational sorties on 13 August, two days before the Japanese surrender. Lock was a Flight Lieutenant and B Flight Commander by then, and on the 19th October he was one of 15 pilots to fly their Spitfires back to Australia from Labuan, as seen in the photo. Only ten of the aircraft arrived safely at Oakey, Queensland, on the 31st October, after making stops at Zambonga, Morotai, Biak, Tadji, Finschhafen, Port Moresby, Higgins and Townsville.

MUNRO L. G. Pic 3The group photo is of Lock with some other pilots of 457 Squadron pilots at RAF Station Redhill. From left to right: 402750 Sergeant Marshall Edmund Parbery (later lost on operations on 27 April 1942); 404405 Pilot Officer D.R. Edwards; 402740 Sergeant Gordon Lindsay Charles Gifford (later killed on operations on 2 May 1943 in the Darwin area); 402726 Sergeant Arthur Bolwell Burgess (later lost on operations 4 April 1942); 404807 Sergeant Lockwood Graham Munro; 400458 Sergeant Alfred Henry Blake (later killed on operations off Darwin 28 May 1943); 403341 Sergeant Thomas Findlay Clark; 404337 Pilot Officer Alfred Glendinning. The other photo is of Lock in the cockpit of a Spitfire, taken somewhere in the Northern Territory. 

Lock was the essence of a fighter-pilot; solid, dependable, well-liked by his fellow pilots and his ground crew. Vince Conant, who updated this biography, said that his father, an LAC with the Squadron, once pointed to the autographed photograph in his album and said, “Pilots like Lock were the backbone of the squadron”.

Lock was one of the last pilots remaining when 457 Squadron was disbanded on the 7th November 1945. He was finally discharged on the 10th January 1946.  

Phil Listemann
Updated by Vince Connant
The Spitfire Association