The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX24405) Lieutenant Albert Edward Chowne VC, 2/2nd Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force, Second World War

Place Oceania: New Guinea, Wewak
Accession Number PAFU2015/187.01
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 11 May 2015
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (NX24405) Lieutenant Albert Edward Chowne VC, 2/2nd Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

NX24405 Lieutenant Albert Edward Chowne VC, 2/2nd Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force
KIA 25 March 1945.
Photograph: 134484

Story delivered 11 May 2015

Today we pay tribute to Lieutenant Albert Chowne VC, who was killed on active service during the Second World War.

Born in Sydney on 19 July 1920, Albert Edward Chowne was the son of Arthur and Frances Chowne. As a young man Albert attended Chatswood Boys Intermediate High School and Naremburn Junior Technical School. A keen sportsman, he played for the Gordon Rugby Union Football Club, also played tennis, and was involved in the Scouts.

Before the war Chowne worked as a shirt-cutter for David Jones. A member of the 36th Battalion of the Militia, Chowne enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force in May 1940. As part of the 20th Brigade of the Australian 9th Division he embarked for overseas service with the 2/13th Battalion, arriving in the Middle East in November 1940.

The 2/13th served at the siege of Tobruk in 1941, and the following year at El Alamein, during which Chowne was wounded. By now promoted to sergeant, he had begun to forge a reputation as a strong and brave leader. In January 1943 the 9th Division returned to Australia, before being sent to Papua.

In September 1943, during the fighting near Finschhafen in New Guinea, Chowne was awarded the Military Medal. Back in Australia he began officer training, and in January 1944 was promoted to lieutenant. On 15 March 1944 Chowne married Daphne Barton, who had worked with him at David Jones and was now a corporal in the Australian Women’s Army Service at St Phillip’s Anglican Church in Sydney.

After completing his jungle warfare training in Queensland, the newly commissioned Chowne was posted to the 2/2nd Battalion, part of the 6th Australian Division soon due to embark for New Guinea.

The 6th Division was sent to the north coast of New Guinea in October 1944 to destroy the Japanese forces remaining in the Aitape-Wewak area. It was during the fighting on 24 March 1945, during the coastal advance towards Wewak, that Chowne was killed in action. Leading his platoon up a steep narrow trail, Chowne had launched a charge upon a heavily defended enemy position. Throwing hand grenades and firing his sub-machine gun, he knocked out two enemy machine-gun positions before being shot twice in the chest. He nevertheless managed to continue his advance, killing two more enemy soldiers in their foxholes before being killed under a hail of heavy fire. His advance enabled his platoon to continue the attack and take the position. For his action Chowne was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

He was 24 years old.

The award was presented to his widow by the governor-general in 1946. The Lieutenant Albert Chowne Memorial Hall in his home suburb of Willoughby in Sydney was raised in his memory, and a street in the Canberra suburb of Campbell is also named in his honour.

Chowne’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around some 40,000 Australians killed in the Second World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Lieutenant Albert Chowne VC, and all of those Australians – as well as our Allies and brothers in arms – who gave their lives for their nation.

Dr Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX24405) Lieutenant Albert Edward Chowne VC, 2/2nd Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force, Second World War (video)