Leading Fireman Horatio Charles Joseph Locke, generally known as 'Joe', passed away at St Mary's Hospital on 23 October 1961 aged 44.

 

Joe's life that ended so suddenly and too young, was one of service both to the nation and his home town of Sandown.

He joined Sandown Fire Brigade in 1936 and served faithfully until war loomed on the horizon and he enlisted in the Royal Engineers. As a Sapper he served in Norway in the earlier stages of the war and later in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany.

In 1946 his military service ended. He returned to Sandown and the brigade, by now a part of the National Fire Service, and a year later married Edith Mary Woodmore at the Congregational Church in Brading. 

When the NFS was disbanded in April 1948, Joe remained a firefighter at Sandown Fire Station as one of the original members of the first Isle of Wight County Fire Brigade.

On Friday 29 January 1959 he was one of a handful of Sandown firemen to receive British Fire Services Association long service medals presented by the Island's Chief Fire Officer Richard Fitzmaurice Sullivan during a social gathering at the Trouville Hotel. Joe was a Leading Fireman by then and he received a Silver 20 year medal alongside Fireman Ron Holbrook. At the same time Sandown's future Station Officer, Fireman Charlie Woodford received his Bronze 10 year medal. 

Just nine days before his unexpected death, Joe was mentioned in the County Press which ran a full page article featuring the Island's fire services in the 14 October edition. The CP's reporter, L.R. Longhurst, was invited to attend any retained fire station of his choosing by Chief Fire Officer Sullivan, so he could witness the efficiency of the part-time firefighters turnout. He selected Sandown as it was closest to his home and he reported favourably on the turnout in which he was asked to play the part of a member of the public who made the call from a public call-box in Melville Street; alerting the station to a supposed fire at the Melville Hall Hotel. The Chief, in civilian clothing, then whisked Mr Longhurst to the station so he could see at first hand the speed at which the men arrived at the station and despatched with the engine to the destination. 

Longhurst and Sullivan were suitably impressed and the former reflected on the depth of experience at Sandown Fire Station, citing Station Officer Jack Gray, Sub Officer Draper, Leading Fireman Healey and Leading Fireman Locke as being of pre-war pedigree, although sadly he stated that the latter was currently on the sick list.

It was a sick list with a sad end for Joe who had been fulfilling firefighting duties right up until his admission to hospital. When he passed away he left his wife, three sons and his mother. 

 

Rest in peace Leading Fireman Locke.