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
Chowne 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.
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
"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.)
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.
WW2 Nominal Roll - Albert Chowne