Service Tests of Modern Sub Machine Guns’ (1941) and other Historic Films on the Owen Gun (1940s)

The Owen Gun Films

The extensive testing and real world service scenarios that the  Owen Sub Machine Gun  underwent to ensure it was an effective weapon are portrayed in this film.


The Owen Gun

Private Evelyn Owen of Wollongong invented the Owen Sub Machine Gun prototype in July 1939.

It was manufactured in the John Lysaght factories of Port Kembla and Newcastle from 1942-1943.  From the 1943 to the mid-1960s it was actively used by the Australian Army.

It was the only entirely Australian-designed and made sub machine gun of World War II.


‘Service Tests of Modern Sub Machine Guns’ (1941)

‘Service Tests of Modern Sub Machine Guns’ is a film recording extensive testing of the Thompson, Sten, Bergman and Owen Sub Machine Guns.

Filmed by 20th Century Fox Movietone News on Monday, 22 December 1941 at the Long Bay Rifle Range (now The Anzac Rifle Range) at Randwick, New South Wales (Australia).

Film Direction: Major H Grattan Guinness

Film commentary: Lt. Col. L. Moore-Cosgrave.

Letter to The High Commissioner for Canada, Canberra, ACT. dated December 23, 1941:

“Dear Sir,

Following instructions issued by the Hon. F.W. Forde, Minister for the Army, to the Officer Commanding the Medium Machine Gun School, Randwick, a series of severe tests of the Owen, Sten and Thompson sub-machine guns, and a 1940 German para-troop gun of the Bergman type, were filmed by 20th Century Fox Movietone News on Monday, December 22, 1941 at Long bay Range.

The tests were personally supervised and arranged by the Chief Instructor, Lt. Col. E. W. Latchford. I was present throughout the tests, and am completely satisfied that the conditions were as nearly as possibly equivalent to severe actual service conditions.

As regards the lessons to be learned, from the tests, the accompanying film speaks for itself.

L.W. Cosgrave Lt. Col.
Canadian Government Trade Commissioner”

The Other Owen Gun Movietone News Reels

On the same VHS Cassette Tape were also two other Movietone News films:

“Aust. Inventor Creates Miracle Gun” (Silent) and “Owen Gun in Mass Production” features women at work manufacturing the Owen Sub Machine Guns in the Lysaghts Factories in Newcastle, NSW.

Mr Allen Stein, Donor

Mr Allen Stein donated an extensive collection of material relating to the Owen Gun to the University of Newcastle’s Archives from the 1990s to the early 2000s. The films now digitised were all recorded and dubbed on two VHS Tapes (Archives Shelf Location: A9099 lxviii).


Digitisation of the original VHS tape took place in October 2021 at the GLAMx Audio-visual Digitisation Lab, Auchmuty Library, University of Newcastle (Australia).

This film was digitised to support the Fortress Newcastle project and the forthcoming film.

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