REL/06322.001
ID number REL/06322.001
Title Victoria Cross : Lieutenant A Chowne, 2/2 Battalion, AIF
Collection Heraldry
Object type Award
Maker Hancocks (Maker)
Date made c 1945
Physical description Bronze
On display Main building: Hall of Valour: Main Hall

Description

Victoria Cross. Engraved reverse suspender with recipient's details; reverse cross with date of action.

Summary

Albert Chowne was born in Sydney on 19 July 1920. He went to Chatswood Boys Intermediate High School and later Naremburn Junior Technical School. In 1935 he began work as a shirt-cutter at David Jones. Outside work, Chowne enjoyed sports, mainly tennis and rugby union, and was also a member of the scouts.

He spent a brief period in the 36th Militia Battalion before enlisting in the AIF in late May 1940. Chowne was assigned to the 2/13th Battalion as platoon and later company runner. The unit arrived in the Middle East in November 1940 and served at Tobruk for eight months the following year. During his time at Tobruk, Chowne transferred to the carrier platoon and was promoted to corporal. After Tobruk the 2/13th performed garrison duties in Syria where, in September, Chowne was promoted to sergeant. He was wounded in the leg and hand at El Alamein the following month and spent three weeks in hospital. He returned to Australia with the battalion in January 1943 before moving to Papua in July.

Chowne, now the mortar platoon sergeant, was awarded the Military Medal for twice crawling close to enemy positions to direct mortar fire. Regarded as exceptionally cool by his comrades, Chowne combined fearlessness with a self-effacing manner. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in January 1944 and he married Daphne Barton in March that year. Having completed the jungle warfare training course at Canungra, Chowne was posted to a new unit, the 2/2nd Battalion, in October 1944. The 2/2nd was sent to New Guinea two months later. In March 1945 he carried out a one-man patrol in daylight, at one stage entering an empty hut and rifling through the belongings of Japanese soldiers, one of whom he shot when he was discovered.

The citation for Chowne's Victoria Cross reads: "For most conspicuous bravery, brilliant leadership and devotion to duty during an attack on an enemy position on a narrow ridge near Dagua, New Guinea, on 25th March 1945. After the capture of Dagua, the main enemy force withdrew southwards from the beach to previously prepared positions on the flank of the Division. Further movement towards Wewak was impossible while this threat to the flank existed and the Battalion was ordered to destroy the enemy force. "A" Company, after making contact with the enemy on a narrow ridge, was ordered to attack the position. The leading Platoon in the attack came under heavy fire from concealed enemy machine-guns sited on a small rise dominating the approach. In the initial approach one member of this platoon was killed and nine wounded, including the Platoon Commander, and the enemy continued to inflict casualties on our troops. Without awaiting orders, Lieutenant Chowne, whose Platoon was in reserve, instantly appreciated the plight of the leading Platoon and rushed the enemy's position. Running up a steep, narrow track, he hurled grenades which knocked out two enemy Light Machine-Guns. Then, calling on his men to follow him, and firing his sub-machine gun from the hip, he charged the enemy's position. Although he sustained two serious wounds in the chest, the impetus of his charge carried him 50 yards forward under the most intense machine-gun and rifle fire. Lieutenant Chowne accounted for two more Japanese before he was killed standing over three foxholes occupied by the enemy. The superb heroism and self-sacrifice of this officer culminating in his death, resulted in the capture of this strongly-held enemy position, ensured the further immediate success of his Company in this area and paved the way directly for the continuance of the Division's advance to Wewak ".

Chowne was buried in the Lae War Cemetery in New Guinea. A street in Canberra was named after him as was a community hall in Willoughby, Sydney.