Within the Australian Army, soldiers preferred nothing less than their Owen SMG. New Zealand’s infantry also used the weapon. General Douglas MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific Area Command also contracted for 60,000 Owen SMGs, but the request could not be fulfilled due to a lack of raw materials and available machinery for such a large undertaking.
The Owen SMG was taken out of production in 1945; however, it remained in Australian service until the late 1960s and saw action in Korea, the Malayan Crisis, Vietnam, and the Rhodesian Bush War, where its ruggedness and durability were appreciated in harsh climates. Unfortunately, Evelyn Owen became an alcoholic and died on April 1, 1949, from cardiac arrest caused by a bleeding gastric ulcer. He tinkered with firearms until the end.
Jon Diamond is a frequent contributor to WWII History. His Stackpole Military Photo Series book, New Guinea, was released in June 2015, and a subsequent volume in this series, Guadalcanal, was released in January 2016.
This article was first published by Warfare History Network.
Image: Wikimedia Commons