Daphne was a District Finance Officer of AWAS (Australian Women’s Army Service). The service recruited women between the ages of 18 and 45 who served in a variety of roles, including clerks, typists, cooks and drivers. AWOS women were paid only two thirds of the wages of their male counterparts.
Daphne lost two husbands to war. “My first husband was killed in action and my second husband was a POW in Changi”. Daphne is wearing a Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy”. It takes precedence over all other orders, decorations and medals. The Victoria Cross was awarded to her first husband Albert Chowne who was in the 2/13th Battalion of the AIF. Albert was a ‘rat of Tobruk’, served in Syria and El Alamein where he was wounded. He returned to Australia and in March 1944 married Daphne. In October 1944 he was posted to a new unit, the 2nd/2nd Battalion and 2 months later sent to Papua New Guinea. In March 1945 Albert was killed in a daring raid when he left cover and charged the enemy.
When asked to reflect on ANZAC day, Daphne says, “it takes me back to when I had a husband. I feel very sentimental and wish there was never war”
Included in hEAd oN exhibition.
Location: Sydney CBD
Photographer: Allan Coker