People

Evelyn Owen

Evelyn (Evo) Owen lived in a hut at the foot of Macquarie Pass. His mother Constance was the daughter of Sir William McMillan, who owned a summer residence at nearby Tongarra, named River Farm.

Evo worked on the prototype for his famous Owen Gun at Brewster’s Garage at Albion Park, where he turned parts for the gun on the garage lathe.

The Owen Gun saved thousands of Australian lives during World War 2. It had just one moving part and was reliable in jungle warfare at New Guinea and Kokoda. It operated in wet, humid and muddy conditions, unlike other guns available at the time. The gun could be manufactured for £12 compared to £50 for the British Thompson Gun, but its manufacture was delayed for years by authorities who preferred the British weapon.

The Owen Gun was tested and produced at Lysaghts, Port Kembla, and finally cleared for production in 1943. It became a vital part of the defence of Australia during the war.

Evelyn got little recognition of his famous Owen Gun and a large portion of the money he made for his invention was taxed. He died in 1949 just short of his 34th birthday.

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