SX31918 Private Lenard George BROWN
Lenard George BROWN was born on 9 November 1922 at Jamestown, the son of Alfred BROWN and Enid BROWN (nee AYLES). His parents had a wheat farm near Caltowie until 1923 when they moved to the Mallee in Victoria, near Swan Hill. In May 1934, the family moved back to South Australia and farmed at Back Valley, near Victor Harbor. Len, as he was known, attended Inman Valley School and the new Back Valley School in 1935-1936 where he received his Qualifying Certificate, following which he left school.
Len enlisted in the militia in February 1942 and was given the serial number S56414. He was initially camped at Victoria Racecourse and then posted to the 4th Garrison Battalion at Largs Bay. The unit was deployed to beach defence duties along Semaphore and Largs Bay beaches and the new arrivals were trained in Vickers and Lewis machine guns.
Pte BROWN was posted to the 1st Australian Machine Gun Battalion based at Cowra and was soon joined by Victor friends Geoff DEPLEDGE, Frank DAVIS, Les CROWHURST and Ollie ASHENDEN. On 26 August 1943, Len volunteered to join the AIF and embarked from Townsville in early November 1943 for Port Moresby where he had his 21st birthday. He was initially posted to 2/15th Infantry Battalion for three days and was then transferred to 2/43rd Battalion (Headquarter Company) as a machine gunner.
In late November 1943, the Battalion was subjected to an enemy attack near Scarlet Beach. The attack was eventually repelled with considerable losses to the enemy. The Battalion advance continued against the Japanese who put up fierce and determined opposition. In early December, the Battalion was positioned near the Song River. Having achieved their objective, the Battalion saw the last three weeks of 1943 as … “delightfully peaceful, the only enemy intervention being the occasional air raid” by enemy bombers. During this time Len was evacuated to a field hospital after he contracted dengue fever.
The Battalion moved to Finschhafen on 23 January 1944 and embarked on U.S. Victory ship Thomas B. Corwin for return to Australia but the convoy was caught in a tropical cyclone in Milne Bay. The Battalion disembarked at Townsville on 31 January 1944. After a stint of leave, the Battalion regrouped at Ravenshoe, Queensland where they underwent intensive training. On 7 April 1945, the Battalion embarked from Townsville and disembarked at Morotai on 16 April 1945 where they remained until early June.
On 10 June 1945, the Battalion landed at “BROWN Beach” on Labuan Island. It took the 2/43rd Battalion and the 2/28th Battalion eleven days to clear the Island of the enemy. British North Borneo had to be cleared and on 19 June, the 2/43rd and the 2/11th Commando Squadron landed at Menumbok and Mempakul. Patrolling up the Klias and Padas Rivers, the Battalion moved on Beaufort, and with the 2/32nd Battalion, attacked the town. They were engaged in fierce fighting with the enemy under shocking weather conditions; the town was taken three days later. Following the Japanese surrender, the Battalion was assigned to guarding the Japanese POWs and occupation duties.
On 16 May 1946 SX31918 Pte Lenard George Brown was demobilised from the army having served four years, three months and 11 days continuous service of which 388 days was spent abroad. He was awarded the 1939/45 Star, the Pacific Star, the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal, the 1945/75 Australian Service Medal and the commemorative Front Line Service Medal.
On return to civilian life Len worked around Victor Harbor for two years then moved to the south-east and was employed by the Lands Department for 20 months working with soldier-settlers. He then took up a settlement farm of some 320 acres near Kalangadoo and after milking dairy cows for four years, he switched to beef cattle. He did well, buying young steers, fattening them up and selling them in the local markets. Len also raised sheep, mostly fat lambs and cross-bred ewes. In 1972, Len married Gladys ROSE, a widow with four children. His wife passed away in April 1999, whereafter Len retired to Victor Harbor.
Lenard George BROWN died on 1 May 2016, age 93.
Meetings with Len BROWN, June-December 2009.
Service file of SX31918 Lenard George BROWN purchased from the National Archives of Australia ( www.naa.gov.au).
War Diary of the 2/43 rd Infantry Battalion downloaded from the Australian War Memorial ( www.awm.gov.au).
Gordon COMBE MC, Frank Ligertwood and Tom Gilchrist, The Second 43rd, Second 43rd Battalion A.I.F. Club, Adelaide (1972)
Compiled by the Victor Harbor RSL History Research Team, June 2009.
Studio portrait of Pte Lenard George BROWN c. May 1943, the photographer was Dimond Studios.
From the Len BROWN family collection. The cost of this photographic profile was funded by Len BROWN.
On return to civilian life Len moved to the south-east and later took up a settlement farm of some 320 acres near Kalangadoo. In 1972, Len married Gladys Roses, a widow with four children. After the death of his wife in April 1999, Len retired to Victor Harbor. Len died on 1 May 2016.