Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Lowerson, Albert David (Alby) (1896–1945)

by Anthony Staunton

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Albert David Lowerson (1896-1945), by unknown photographer, c1916

Albert David Lowerson (1896-1945), by unknown photographer, c1916

Australian War Memorial, P02939.037

Albert David (Alby) Lowerson (1896-1945), soldier and farmer, was born on 2 August 1896 at Myrtleford, Victoria, sixth child of English-born Henry Lowerson, engine driver and later farmer, and his Victorian wife Mary Jane, née McMaster. Alby Lowerson had been dredging for gold at Adelong, New South Wales, before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force in Melbourne on 16 July 1915; he was allotted to the 5th Reinforcements of the 21st Battalion which embarked in September.

Lowerson joined his unit on 7 January 1916 and accompanied it to France in March. After a period in the quiet Armentières sector he entered the battle of the Somme, seeing heavy fighting for Pozières Heights from 25 July to 7 August. Two weeks later he was back in the front lines near Mouquet Farm where he was wounded on 26 August. He rejoined the battalion a month later and was promoted corporal on 1 November. Promoted temporary sergeant on 11 April 1917, he was again wounded during the 2nd battle of Bullecourt on 3 May. It was six months before he rejoined his unit as sergeant on 1 November. In the final allied advance in 1918 he distinguished himself on 27 August at Virgin Wood and on 28 August at Herbécourt.

Lowerson won the Victoria Cross on 1 September during the capture of Mont St Quentin. He was cited for his leadership and courage during the battle, particularly for his effective bombing of the strong point which was the centre of stern resistance: a huge crater from which machine-guns fired and stick-bombs were hurled. He inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans and captured twelve machine-guns and thirty prisoners. Although wounded in the thigh he refused to withdraw until the prisoners had been sent to the rear and the posts of his men had been organized and consolidated. He then refused to leave the battalion for two days until evacuated because of his wound. He resumed duty on 17 September in time to participate in the last Australian infantry action of the war, at Montbrehain on 5 October where he was wounded for the fourth time. He received the Victoria Cross from King George V at Buckingham Palace on 1 March 1919; a month later he embarked for Australia and was discharged on 8 July.

Between the wars Lowerson was a dairy and tobacco farmer on a Victorian soldier settlement block. He named his property, on Merriang estate near Myrtleford, St Quentin. He married Edith Larkins at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, on 1 February 1930. Re-enlisting on 5 July 1940, he served as a sergeant in various training units throughout Australia until discharged in 1944. Survived by his wife and daughter, he died of leukaemia at Myrtleford on 15 December 1945 and was buried there after a Methodist service. A memorial headstone was unveiled in 1949 and local returned servicemen make an annual pilgrimage to the grave. Myrtleford in 1966 named the A. D. Lowerson Memorial Swimming Pool in his honour.

Select Bibliography

  • A. R. MacNeil (ed), The Story of the Twenty-First (Melb, 1920)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1918 (Syd, 1942)
  • L. Wigmore (ed), They Dared Mightily (Canb, 1963)
  • K. Robertson, Myrtleford (1973)
  • Mufti, Jan 1938, May 1946, Oct 1949
  • Bulletin, 28 Dec 1945
  • Reveille (Sydney), June 1969
  • 'Buckingham Palace', Times (London), 3 Mar 1919, p 13
  • Age (Melbourne), 17 Dec 1945
  • Argus (Melbourne), 17 Dec 1945
  • Myrtleford Times, 20 Nov 1978, 22 Nov 1982
  • war diary, 21st Battalion, A.I.F. (Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

Anthony Staunton, 'Lowerson, Albert David (Alby) (1896–1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lowerson-albert-david-alby-7252/text12565, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 23 December 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

Albert David Lowerson (1896-1945), by unknown photographer, c1916

Albert David Lowerson (1896-1945), by unknown photographer, c1916

Australian War Memorial, P02939.037