Biography

Birth date: 19 July 1920
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Death date: 25 March 1945
Death place: New Guinea: Dagua
Final rank: Lieutenant
Service number: NX24405 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Units:
  • 2/2nd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 2/13th Australian Infantry Battalion

Albert Chowne, Victoria Cross recipient, 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 2nd/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 2nd/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 2nd/2nd Battalion, in October 1944. The 2nd/2nd was sent to New Guinea two months later.

Chowne brought a reputation for bravery and leadership to his new unit. 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. Some who knew him believed that Chowne was destined to either win the Victoria Cross or be killed in action. Sadly both happened. 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.

Rolls and Awards

Roll of Honour

  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Date of Death: 25 March 1945
  • Unit: 2/2nd Australian Infantry Battalion

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Medal

  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards : Military Medal

  • Unit: 2/13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 2/2nd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection Items

Photograph

079925

DAGUA, NEW GUINEA. 1945-03-25. ONE OF THE GUNS OF THE 2/2ND FIELD REGIMENT FIRING AT A JAPANESE POSITION IN THE AREA IN WHICH LIEUTENANT A. CHOWNE, MM, GAINED HIS VC.

079925

098519

CAPE PUS, NEW GUINEA. 1945-11-03. CORPORAL C. LETCHFIELD (1) AND SERGEANT S.E. BAILEY (2) STUDYING THE DAGUA AREA ON A MAP WHERE THEY FOUGHT AS MEMBERS OF THE 2/2 INFANTRY BATTALION PLATOON COMMANDED BY LIEUTENANT A. CHOWNE WHEN HE WON THE VICTORIA CROSS FOR LEADERSHIP AND VALOUR.

098519

098520

CAPE PUS, NEW GUINEA. 1945-11-03. LANCE CORPORAL W.T. FALLSHAW (1), SERGEANT S.E. BAILEY (2) AND CORPORAL C. LETCHFIELD (3). THE MEN WERE MEMBERS OF THE 2/2 INFANTRY BATTALION PLATOON COMMANDED BY LIEUTENANT A. CHOWNE WHEN HE WON THE VICTORIA CROSS FOR LEADERSHIP AND VALOUR IN THE DAGUA AREA.

098520

098521

CAPE PUS, NEW GUINEA. 1945-11-03. CHAPLAIN N.D. WINN, 2/2 INFANTRY BATTALION (1) PHOTOGRAPHED WITH SERGEANT S.E. BAILEY (2), LANCE CORPORAL W.T. FALLSHAW (3) AND CORPORAL C. LETCHFIELD (4) WHO WERE MEMBERS OF THE 2/2 INFANTRY BATTALION PLATOON COMMANDED BY LIEUTENANT A. CHOWNE WHEN HE WON THE...

098521

134484

C.1944. LIEUTENANT ALBERT CHOWNE VC MM, 2/2ND INFANTRY BATTALION. ON A NARROW RIDGE NEAR DAGUA, NEW GUINEA, 0N 1945-03-25 HE SHOWED SUPERB HEROISM WHEN ATTACKING A POSITION THAT WAS HOLDING UP FURTHER MOVEMENT TOWARDS WEWAK. SEEING THAT THE LEADING PLATOON WAS BEING MAULED BY CONCEALED ENEMY...

134484

134484A

C. 1944. LIEUTENANT ALBERT CHOWNE VC MM, 2/2ND INFANTRY BATTALION. ON A NARROW RIDGE NEAR DAGUA, NEW GUINEA 0N 1945-03-25 HE SHOWED SUPERB HEROISM WHEN ATTACKING A POSITION THAT WAS HOLDING UP FURTHER MOVEMENT TOWARDS WEWAK. SEEING THAT THE LEADING PLATOON WAS BEING MAULED BY CONCEALED ENEMY...

134484A

Manuscript

Stratton, Norman Edmond (NX200946, Corporal, 2/2 Battalion)

Copy of account written by late N E 'Norm' Stratton of 2/2 Battalion, describing bayonet charge of A Company, 2/2 Battalion, on 25 March 1945 in New Guinea. This is the action in which Lieutenant Albert Chowne VC MM was killed. 2 copies of account: one photocopy of typescript and associated...

MSS1963

Heraldry

Victoria Cross : Lieutenant A Chowne, 2/2 Battalion, AIF

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

REL/06322.001

Military Medal: Sergeant A Chowne, 2/13 Battalion

Military Medal (Geo VI). Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL/06322.002

1939-45 Star: Lieutenant A Chowne, 2/2 Battalion

1939-45 Star. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

REL/06322.003

Africa Star with 8th Army clasp: Lieutenant A Chowne, 2/13 Battalion

Africa Star with 8th Army clasp. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

REL/06322.004

Pacific Star: Lieutenant A Chowne, 2/2 Battalion

Pacific Star. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

REL/06322.005

Defence Medal: Lieutenant A Chowne, 2/2 Battalion

Defence Medal. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL/06322.006

British War Medal 1939-45: Lieuenant A Chowne, 2/2 Battalion

British War Medal 1939-45. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL/06322.007

Australia Service Medal: Lieutenant A Chowne, 2/2 Battalion

Australia Service Medal. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL/06322.008

Unofficial Tobruk Siege 1941 Medal : Lieutenant A Chowne, VC

White metal 'T' shaped medal. Obverse wreathed in laurel with raised words 'TOBRUK SIEGE 1941'. Reverse plain. Pale yellow ribbon with red, dark and light blue stripes

REL/06322.009

Battle damaged wrist watch : Lieutenant A Chowne, 2/2 Battalion

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....

RELAWM32981

Timeline

Date of birth 1920-07-19 Sydney, NSW.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1940-05-30 Chowne enlisted with the AIF and was assigned to the 2/13 Battalion.
Other 1940-11 The 2/13 Battalion arrived in the Middle East.
Date promoted 1941-09 Promoted to sergeant.
Date wounded 1941-10 Wounded in the leg at El Alamein.
Date returned to Australia 1943-01
Other 1943-07 The 2/13 Battalion arrived in Papua New Guinea.
Date commissioned 1944-01 Comissioned as a lieutenant.
Date of honour or award 1944-03-02 Military Medal.
Other units 1944-10 Chowne was posted to the 2/2 Battalion and he served with them in Papua New Guinea.
Date of death 1945-03-25 Killed in action in New Guinea.
Date of honour or award 1945-03-25 Posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross whilst serving with 2/2 Battalion, 16 Brigade, 6 Division as a Lieutenant. Chowne and the 2/2 battalion attacked an enemy position, near Dagua, which was holding up further movement towards Wewak. Chowne seeing the leading platoon was suffering heavy casualties charged forward, without awaiting orders, calling for the 2/2 battalion to follow him. Although he was mortally wounded during the battle, his actions helped result in the capture of the enemy position.