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Lt Albert Chowne
Australian Army, 2/2nd Infantry Battalion

Background
Albert Chowne was born in Sydney on July 19, 1920 and attended Chatswood Boys Intermediate High School and later Naremburn Junior Technical School.  In 1935 he began work at David Jones as a shirt-cutter.

Wartime History
Click For EnlargementChowne initially served with the 36th Infantry Battalion (Militia) before enlisting with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on May 30, 1940. In November 1940, Chowne arrived in the Middle East with the 2/13th Infantry Battalion where he served as a platoon, and later a company commander.  Chowne served at Tobruk with the 2/13th for eight months, during which time he transferred to the carrier platoon and was promoted to Corporal.  After Tobruk, the 2/13th was stationed in Syria where Chowne was again promoted, this time to Sergeant.  During the El Alamein campaign of October 1942 Chowne was wounded in the hand and leg, and subsequently spent three weeks in hospital before returning to Australia in January 1943.

During July 1943, the 2/13th, with Chowne as mortar platoon sergeant, moved to Papua.  Chowne was awarded a Military Medal for "Great bravery at Kreutberg on October 25, 1943" before being commissioned as a Lieutenant in January 1944.

After completing the jungle training course at Canungra, Chowne was posted to the 2/2nd Infantry Battalion before being sent to New Guinea in December 1944.  While serving with this new unit, Chowne earned a reputation for bravery and leadership - at one time in March, even entering a Japanese hut and rifling through soldiers' belongings before shooting one dead after being discovered.

Victoria Cross
On March 25, 1945 Lt Chowne singlehandedly advanced across a narrow jungle ridge near Dagua and attacked major Japanese positions obstructing the Australian advance.  Chowne's actions resulted in the destruction of two enemy machine gun posts and inspired his men to capture the entire position.  In so doing, Chowne had exposed himself to intense enemy fire and was mortally wounded atop the last enemy post.  For his outstanding bravery Lt Chowne was posthumously awarded the British Commonwealth's highest miliary honour.  Lt Albert Chowne is now buried at the Lae War Cemetery.

Both Albert's Victoria Cross and Military Medal were presented to his wife, Mrs Daphne Chowne, by the Governor-General of Australia in January 1947.  Today, his medals are displayed in the Hall of Valour at the Australian War Memorial (AWM).

Victoria Cross Citation
Victoria Cross
"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, I 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."
(London Gazette: 6 September l945.)

Memorials
Chowne is buried at Lae War Cemetery at QQ. A. 8. In Canberra, a street is named in his honor. In Boystown near Wewak a plaque is dedicated in his honor.

References
WW2 Nominal Roll - Albert Chowne

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