Military Medal: Sergeant A Chowne, 2/13 Battalion
ID numberREL/06322.002
Collection typeHeraldry
TitleMilitary Medal: Sergeant A Chowne, 2/13 Battalion
Object typeAward
MakerUnknown
Date madec 1943
Physical descriptionSilver
DescriptionMilitary Medal (Geo VI). Impressed around edge with recipient's details.
SummaryAlbert 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. The citation for Chowne's Military Medal reads: " Sgt. CHOWNE was in command of detachments of mortars attached to a forward company on 25th Oct 43. The progress of the company was held up by a series of strong enemy positions in jungle astride a narrow ridge on the KREUTBERG Range west of FINSCHAFEN. Reconnaissance was extremely difficult and several casualties had occurred in an attempt to determine the extent of the enemy position. Sgt. CHOWNE crawled forward to within a few yards of the enemy and ascertained their dispositions. When orders were given for an attack on the post CHOWNE again worked his way forward with a telephone and cable and directed accurate mortar fire on the enemy at such close range that many of the bombs burst close about his own position. The accuracy of this mortar fire was the main factor in forcing the enemy to withdraw from that locality. Some days later this NCO repeated this act of bravery in front of another enemy post by going forward at great risk to himself to observe from a place where a short time before we had suffered a number of casualties. Again he was so close to the enemy that he was himself in danger from the fire he was directing. But this fire, by neutralising the enemy fire, enable eight wounded men to be moved from a position where they had been covered by the enemy ".

He was commissioned as a lieutenant in January 1944 and 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. On 25 March 1945, Chowne, seeing the leading platoon in his company's attack on Japanese positions run into trouble, left cover and charged the enemy. He managed to knock out two machine guns before being killed. Chowne's actions enabled the attack to continue and, according to his citation, paved the way for the 6th Division's advance on Wewak.

Chowne was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously and 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.