Peter Chitty

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Peter Chitty
Peter Chitty.jpg
Personal information
Full name Leslie Allan Chitty
Date of birth 12 March 1912
Place of birth Corryong, Victoria
Date of death 27 March 1996(1996-03-27) (aged 84)
Original team(s) Cudgewa (UMFL)
Border United (OMFL)[1]
Debut Round 11, 1936, St Kilda
vs. Fitzroy, at Brunswick Street Oval
Height 170 cm (5 ft 7 in)
Weight 70 kg (154 lb)
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1936 St Kilda 2 (0)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1936.
Career highlights
  • "Brownlow Medal" in the Changi Football League, 1943
Sources: AFL Tables,

Leslie Allan "Peter" Chitty BEM (12 March 1912 – 27 March 1996) was an Australian rules footballer who played for St Kilda in the Victorian Football League (VFL) and who won the only "Changi Brownlow" awarded in the Prisoner of War Changi Football League.


Born in Corryong, Victoria, Chitty grew up on the family dairy farm near Corryong and, along with his brother Bob Chitty, became a leading footballer in the region for Cudgewa.[2] Chitty continued to work on the family farm while playing as a rover in Albury until St Kilda enticed him down to Melbourne for the 1936 VFL season.

VFL career[edit]

Awarded guernsey number 36, Chitty made his VFL debut for St Kilda in Round 11, 1936, against Fitzroy at Brunswick Street Oval. After missing Round 12 with a leg injury, Chitty returned to St Kilda's league side for the Round 13 match against South Melbourne.[3] Struck down by injuries, this was to be his last VFL match.[2]

World War II[edit]

Chitty returned to Corryong and was working on his farm when World War II was declared. On 25 July 1940, Chitty enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force[4] and was posted to the 2/9 Field Ambulance Convoy, initially as a Private before gaining the rank of Corporal.[5] One of four brothers to enlist, Chitty was sent to Singapore on 1 March 1941 and was stationed with the Australian General Hospital in Malaya when he was captured during the Fall of Singapore in March 1942 and reported missing on 26 March 1942[5] (although it was not until 9 June 1943 that his family were notified of his capture).[6]

Chitty had three brothers, Arthur, Ronald and Phillip, who also enlisted in the Army. All three served in the North Africa Campaign, Private Arthur Chitty with 2/23 Battalion and Ronald and Phillip with 2/2 Field Ambulance. Arthur was killed in action at El Alamein on 22 July 1942[7] while Privates Ronald and Phillip Chitty were taken prisoner by the Germans. They were repatriated in 1943 and visited their brother's grave in North Africa in September that year.[8]

Changi Football League[edit]

Transported to Changi Prison's Selerang barracks, Chitty became involved in the Changi Football League, the Australian rules competition for Prisoners at Changi. Chitty played for "Geelong", one of four sides in the league (the others were "Essendon", "Collingwood" and "Carlton").[2] The League, with 15,000 Australian prisoners to choose from, was reportedly very strong and featured a number of players from leading leagues around the country.[2]

At the end of the season, Chitty captained a side of players from Victoria against a team containing the best players from the rest of the country. The match, which drew 10,000 spectators, saw Chitty awarded the Changi Brownlow from former Brownlow Medallist Wilfred Smallhorn (who was too ill to play). The medal, reputedly made partly from metal from a downed Japanese airplane, became Chitty's good luck charm for the remainder of the war.

In 1943, Chitty was transferred to Burma where he spent eighteen months working on the Burma Railway.[9] During this time, Chitty carried a fellow soldier who was dying of malaria more than 200 kilometres (120 mi) along the Railway,[10] partly for which, on 6 March 1947, he was awarded the British Empire Medal.[11]

After being repatriated at the end of World War II, Chitty was aboard the Largs Bay returning to Australia when the 1945 VFL Grand Final between South Melbourne and Carlton was being played. As Chitty's brother Bob was captaining Carlton, Chitty organised a syndicate and bet everything they had (which was beer) on a Carlton win. In an upset, Carlton defeated South Melbourne and Chitty enjoyed his beers.[12]


Chitty arrived back in Australia in October 1945. After two months recovering in hospital, Chitty was discharged on 5 December 1945.[8]

Chitty died in 1996, aged 84, survived by his widow, Lillian, two sons, Lindsay and Roger and two daughters, Dawn and Roslyn.[2] In 2004, Lillian Chitty presented Chitty's Changi Brownlow to the Australian War Memorial.[2]


  • Perry, R. (2010) The Changi Brownlow, Hachette, Sydney. ISBN 978-0-7336-2464-3.
  • Shaw, I. (2006) Bloodbath, Scribe, Melbourne. ISBN 1-920769-97-8.

Footnotes and citations[edit]

  1. ^ "Melbourne Gets Another Albury Player". The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express. NSW: National Library of Australia. 4 October 1935. p. 38. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Wilson, N. (2004) "War's footy legend", Herald Sun, p. 18, 21 August 2004.
  3. ^ Perry, p. 17.
  4. ^ Commonwealth of Australia, "World War II Nominal Roll", Accessed 24 December 2008.
  5. ^ a b Grant, A. (2006) "Saints in World Wars. Legends of the game - Peter Chitty",, 9 January 2006. Accessed 24 December 2008.
  6. ^ Shaw, p. 59
  7. ^ World War II Nominal Roll, "Chitty, Arthur Wilson", Accessed 24 December 2008.
  8. ^ a b Australian War Memorial, "Brownlow Medal : Corporal L A 'Peter' Chitty, 2/2 Australian Motor Ambulance Convoy".
  9. ^ Lyon, K. "Changi champ won war within a war", The Age, 23 April 2005.
  10. ^ Associated Press, "Medal awarded to World War II Australian Rules Football player in Singapore POW camp given to war memorial", 20 August 2004. Accessed 24 December 2008.
  11. ^ It's An Honour, Chitty, Leslie Allan, Accessed 24 December 2008.
  12. ^ Shaw, p. 204