Note: This entry was significantly expanded in July 2021.
Springfield’s Lafore Lock Post 755 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars is named after World War I U.S. Army Pvt. Farley Lafore Lock.
Lock died Oct. 18, 1918, of wounds he suffered from an artillery shell the day before in the Verdun sector of France. Born in 1896, Lafore was one of 10 children (eight of them boys) of Nelson and Gretta Lock.
Lock’s death was described in a letter his family received several months later from Russell Burleigh, Lock’s sergeant in the medical unit of the 133rd Regiment, 33rd Division.
Twice in our army life I called for volunteers to go with me on perilous journeys under enemy shell fire and twice LaFore (sic) and Neal (full name not given) volunteered to go with me regardless of what our prospect was or our chance of return.
It was during the trying times when the enemy was trying to stop the rush of American manhood throught the impregnable Argonne Forests that LaFore after going to the front line and assisting in establishing a first aid post, volunteered to return and bring the remainder of the men up after dark.
He started on his perilous errand with the same smile and joking way that he always wore while doing his duty. He never finished his errand, but we all know and God knows it was not through any fault of his.
A high explosive shell from the gun of the unseen enemy came within five feet of him and not hearing it he failed to drop on the ground and a piece of the shell cut the lower third of the thigh of his left limb nearly severing it, and also cut the right limb. …
(H)e was immediately put on an ambulance and rushed by special request to the field hospital and the last words we heard him say was, with a faint smile, “Well they got both my legs,” but our men assured him he would get allright soon. …
The day after LaFore was injured, he succumbed to his injuries and under French soil, facing the southeast on the world’s greatest battle field, Verdun, LaFore is buried. The shock from the shell, the pain from the injuries, the loss of blood all were too much for anyone to bear or sustain. …
We were 68 days in the woods and strewn battlefields, no baths and very little water and unable to claim our lives from one moment to the next.
LaFore was the only one in the corps to succumb to wounds although several more of the men received wounds.
Today (Jan. 9, 1919 – ed.) the Christmas box came for LaFore and I took it wondering what to do with it.
We finally opened it and the candy the boys all ate. The pen I am using to write to you with. The tobacco and gum was also consumed during the day as both are very scarce here. …
LaFore left us noting to remember him by but his personality which will never leave us.
East, west, north and south as I have travelled the world has not shown me a man who could equal our deceased brother and our sympathy reaches out to you and his parents, brothers and sisters in their hours of sorrow.
It took two months before Lock’s parents were officially notified of their son’s death. Following the war, Lock’s remains were returned to Springfield. He is buried between his parents at Oak Ridge Cemetery.
Springfield veterans of WWI formed Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 755 in April 1921. Members of the new post voted April 25, 1921 to name the post after Lafore Lock. The Illinois State Register story reporting the vote did not say why Lock was chosen for the posthumous honor, but Harry Lock, Lafore’s younger brother, apparently was one of the post’s organizers. In June, Harry Lock was elected the post’s first treasurer.
Harry Lock joined the Illinois National Guard with Lafore, and the two served in the same U.S. Army medical detachment. However, Harry Lock, who had been detailed to officer training, was away from the unit when Lafore was killed.
Lafore Lock also was well known in Springfield before the war. He was one of three Lock sons – the others were Ross and Harry – who starred in football at Springfield High School from 1909 to 1917. (Younger brother Frank “Hoke” Lock was Springfield streets commissioner from 1943 to 1951.)
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