ID number RELAWM32981
Title Battle damaged wrist watch : Lieutenant A Chowne, 2/2 Battalion
Collection Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1940
Physical description White metal
On display Main building: Hall of Valour: Main Hall


Damaged white metal wrist watch with winder, black face with gold painted numerals, a separate second sweep and an acrylic cover. The cover has large star burst impact cracks on the lower half of the face. The watch hands are stopped at approximately 6.25. The back of the watch is engraved, 'To A. Chowne From Staff of David Jones Ltd. George St 29.5.40'.


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. 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 battalion 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. The watch was a gift from his colleagues at David Jones and was given to him after his enlistment in the Second AIF. It was damaged when Chowne was killed.

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.