List of New Zealander Victoria Cross recipients
Leslie Wilton Andrew - 1917; La Bassee Ville, France
Corporal Andrew was in charge of a small party in an attack on the enemy's position. His objective was a machine-gun post which had been located in an isolated building, but on leading his men forward he encountered another machine-gun post which was holding up the advance of another company. He immediately attacked it, capturing the gun and killing several of the crew. He then continued with his attack on the original objective and finally captured the post, killing a number of the enemy and putting the remainder to flight.
Cyril Royston Guyton Bassett - 1915; Gallipoli, Turkey
On 7 August 1915 at Chunuk Bair Ridge, Gallipoli, Turkey, after the New Zealand Brigade had attacked and established itself on the ridge, Corporal Bassett, in full daylight and under continuous fire, succeeded in laying a telephone line from the old position to the new one on Chunuk Bair. He also did further gallant work in connection with the repair of telephone lines by day and night under heavy fire. He is quoted "I was so short that the bullets just passed over me".
Donald Forrester Brown - 1916; High Wood, France
On 15 September 1916 south-east of High Wood, France, when his company had suffered very heavy casualties from machine-gun fire, Sergeant Brown, with another man, advanced to a point within 30 yards of an enemy gun, killing four of the crew and capturing the gun. When the advance of the company was again held up, Sergeant Brown and his comrade rushed another gun and killed the crew. On a third occasion the sergeant attacked single-handed a machine-gun, killed the crew and captured the gun.
He was killed in action near Eaucourt L'Abbaye, France, on 1 October 1916.
James Crichton - 1918; Crevecoeur, France
On 30 September 1918 at Crevecoeur, France, Private Crichton, although wounded in the foot, stayed with the advancing troops despite difficult canal and river obstacles. When his platoon was forced back by a counterattack he succeeded in carrying a message which involved swimming a river and crossing an area swept by machine-gun fire. Subsequently he rejoined his platoon and later undertook on his own initiative to save a bridge which had been mined. Under close fire he managed to remove the charges, returning with the fuses and detonators.
Keith Elliott - 1942; Ruweisat, Egypt
On 15 July 1942 at Ruweisat, Western Desert, Egypt, Sergeant Elliott, while leading his platoon in an attack under heavy machine-gun and mortar fire, was wounded in the chest. Nevertheless, he carried on and led his men in a bayonet charge which resulted in the capture of four enemy machine-gun posts and an anti-tank gun. Seven of the enemy were killed and 50 taken prisoner. In spite of his wounds Sergeant Elliott refused to leave his platoon until he had reformed them and handed over the prisoners, the number of which had by then increased to 130.
Samuel Forsyth - 1918; Grevillers, France
On 24 August 1918 at Grevillers, France, when Sergeant Forsyth's company was under heavy machine-gun fire on nearing their objective, he led attacks on three machine-gun positions and took the crews prisoner before they could inflict many casualties on our troops. Subsequently, in endeavouring to gain support from a tank to deal with several machine-guns, he was wounded and the tank put out of action. He then led the tank crew and several of his own men in an attack which brought about the retirement of the enemy machine-guns and enabled the advance to continue. At this moment he was killed by a sniper.
Bernard Cyril Freyberg* - 1916; The Battle of the Somme, France
On November 13, 1916 at Beaucourt-sur-Ancre, France, after Freyberg's battalion had carried the initial attack through the enemy's front system of trenches, he rallied and re-formed his own much disorganised men and some others, and led them on a successful assault of the second objective, during which he suffered two wounds, but remained in command and held his ground throughout the day and the following night. When re-inforced the next morning he attacked and captured a strongly fortified village, taking 500 prisoners. Though wounded twice more, the second time severely, Freyberg refused to leave the line until he had issued final instructions. His citation described the end result of these actions, stating that "[Freyberg] enabled the lodgement of the corps to be permanently held, and on this point the line was eventually formed" for subsequent offensives.
Samuel Frickleton - 1917; Messines, Belgium
On 7 June 1917 at Messines, Belgium, Lance-Corporal Frickleton, although slightly wounded, dashed forward at the head of his section, pushed into our barrage and personally destroyed with bombs an enemy machine-gun and crew which was causing heavy casualties. He then attacked a second gun killing all the crew of 12. By the destruction of these two guns he undoubtedly saved his own and other units from very severe casualties. During the consolidation of this position he received a second severe wound. In WWI he was promoted to sergeant, then second lieutenant, and when he joined the Territorial Force in 1934 he was made captain.
John Gildroy Grant - 1918; Bancourt, France
On 1 September 1918 near Bancourt, France, the leading waves of the battalion on reaching a crest of high ground, found that a line of enemy machine-gun posts offered a serious obstacle to further advance. The company, however, advanced against these posts under point-blank fire, and when about 20 yards away Sergeant Grant, closely followed by a comrade, rushed ahead of his platoon, entering the centre post and demoralising the garrison so that the platoon were able to mop up the positions. In the same manner he rushed the post on the left and the remaining posts were quickly occupied and cleared by his company.
William James Hardham - 1901; Naauwpoort, South Africa
On 28 January 1901 near Naauwpoort, South Africa, Farrier-Major Hardham was with a section which was hotly engaged with a party of about 20 Boers. Just before the force started to retire, a trooper was wounded and his horse killed. The Farrier-Major at once went, under heavy fire, to his assistance, dismounted and put him on his own horse, and then ran alongside until he had guided the wounded man to a place of safety.
Charles Heaphy - 1864; Mangapiko River, New Zealand
On 11 February 1864 on the banks of the Mangapiko River, Major Heaphy went to the assistance of a soldier who had fallen into a hollow where there were a great many M?oris concealed. While doing this, the major became a target for a volley from only a few feet away. Five musket balls pierced his clothes and cap and he was hit in three places, but in spite of this he stayed with the wounded man all day. For this action he was awarded the Victoria Cross; the first and for a long time the only colonial soldier to receive it.
John Daniel Hinton - 1941; Kalamai, Greece
While a prisoner of war Hinton twice escaped, and made several other attempts. He was told he had been awarded the VC as he lay in hospital recovering from a beating given after one of these attempts. Jack Hinton received his Victoria Cross from King George VI on May 11, 1945, at Buckingham Palace.
Alfred Clive Hulme - 1941; Crete, Greece
During the period 20/28 May 1941 in Crete, Greece, Sergeant Hulme displayed outstanding leadership and courage. At Maleme he led a party against the enemy who were attacking with rifles, machine-guns and mortars. At Galatos he drove the enemy away from a school building with hand grenades. At Suda Bay he killed five snipers and at Styles he wiped out a mortar crew and accounted for three more snipers.
Reginald Stanley Judson - 1918; Bapaume, France
On 26 August 1918 south of Bapaume, France, during an attack, Sergeant Judson led a small bombing party under heavy fire and captured an enemy machine-gun. He then proceeded up the sap alone, bombing three machine-gun crews. Jumping out of the trench he then ran ahead of the enemy and, standing on a parapet, ordered a group of two officers and 10 men to surrender. They immediately opened fire and he threw a bomb and jumped amongst them, killing two and putting the rest to flight, and so captured two machine-guns.
Harry John Laurent - 1918; Gouzeaucourt Wood, France
On 12 September 1918 east of Gouzeaucourt Wood, France, during an attack, Sergeant Laurent was detailed to exploit an initial success and keep in touch with the enemy. With a party of 12 he located the very strong enemy support line and at once charged the position followed by his men completely disorganizing the enemy by the suddenness of his attack. In the hand-to-hand fighting which ensued, 30 of the enemy were killed and the remainder, totaling one officer and 111 other ranks, surrendered. His party suffered four casualties.
Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu - 1943; Tebaga Gap, Tunisia
On 26/27 March 1943 during the action at Tobaga Gap, Tunisia, Second Lieutenant Ngarimu, who was commanding a platoon in a vital hill feature strongly held by the enemy, led his men straight up the face of the hill and was first on the crest. He personally destroyed two machine-gun posts and owing to his inspired leadership several counter-attacks were beaten off during the night. He was twice wounded but refused to leave his men. By morning when only two of his platoon remained unwounded, reinforcements arrived. When the next counter-attack was launched, however, Second Lieutenant Ngarimu was killed.
Henry James Nicholas - 1917; Polderhoek, Belgium
On 3 December 1917 at Polderhoek, Belgium, Private Nicholas, who was one of a Lewis gun section which was checked by heavy machine-gun and rifle fire from an enemy strong-point, went forward followed by the remainder of his section at an interval of about 25 yards, shot the officer in command of the strong-point and overcame the remainder of the garrison of 16 with bombs and bayonets, capturing four wounded prisoners and a machine-gun. He captured the strong-point practically single-handed and thereby saved many casualties. Subsequently he went out and collected ammunition under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire.
He was killed in action, Vertigneul, France, on 23 October 1918. Sgt Nicholas was killed near Beaudignies, France (Nord) on 23 October 1918.
William Edward Sanders - 1917; Atlantic
Lieutenant (later Lieutenant-Commander) Sanders killed in action, at sea in the Atlantic near southern Ireland, on 14 August 1917, along with his entire crew. In June 1918, Sanders' father received his son's V.C. and DSO from the Governor-General of New Zealand at Auckland Town Hall, and in his honour, a sailing trophy, the Sanders Cup was instituted, and is still contested to this day.
Richard Charles Travis - 1918; Rossignol Wood, France
On 24 July 1918 at Rossignol Wood, north of Hebuterne, France, it was necessary to destroy an impassable wire block and Sergeant Travis volunteered for this duty. In broad daylight and in proximity to enemy posts he crawled out, successfully bombing the block and the attacking parties were able to pass through. A little later when a bombing party was held up by machine-guns Sergeant Travis rushed the position, capturing the guns and killing the crew, also an officer and three men who attacked him, thus enabling the bombing party to advance. He was killed next day while going from post to post encouraging his men.
Leonard Henry Trent - 1943; Amsterdam, the Netherlands
On 3 May 1943 the squadron was ordered on a 'Ramrod' bombing attack on a target in Amsterdam, (the code Ramrod, meaning the mission was so important it was to be continued with regardless of losses). Two squadrons were to escort the Venturas, a low level Supermarine Spitfire Mk5 group and a high level escort of Spitfire Mk9s, which were to cross the coast at sea level so as not to alert German Radar, then climb. Unfortunately the Mk9s arrived early, and had also crossed the coast high, being anxious to gain a height advantage. Than ran low on fuel before the Venturas arrived and had to leave. A conference of leading German fighter pilots was taking place at an airfield virtually en route. These pilots scrambled when the Mk9s were detected. Under constant attack, 487 Squadron continued on to its target, the few surviving aircraft completing bombing runs before being shot down. Squadron Leader Trent, whose leadership was instrumental in ensuring the bombing run was completed, was awarded the Victoria Cross. Squadron Leader Trent shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109 with the forward machine guns of his plane. Immediately afterwards his own aircraft was hit, went into a spin and broke up. Squadron Leader Trent and his navigator were thrown clear and became prisoners. He had displayed cool, unflinching courage in the face of overwhelming odds
Lloyd Allan Trigg - 1943; Atlantic
Trigg was an experienced pilot attached to 200 Squadron RAF, operating with Coastal Command. He was flying his first operational flight in a Liberator V (having previously flown Hudsons), over the Atlantic from his base in Bathurst, West Africa (now Banjul, The Gambia), on 11 August 1943 when he engaged the German submarine U-468, under the command of Klemens Schamong.
His aircraft received several catastrophic hits from the anti-aircraft guns during his approach to drop depth charges and was on fire as Trigg made his final attack. It then crashed, killing Trigg and his crew, so the only witnesses to his high courage were the U-boat crew members.
The U-boat sank but the seven survivors were rescued by a Royal Navy vessel and the captain reported the incident, recommending Trigg be decorated for his bravery. The Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously.
Charles Hazlitt Upham - 1941; Crete, Greece and 1942; Ruweisat Ridge, Egypt
The award citation says he displayed outstanding gallantry in close-quarter fighting, and was twice hit by Mortar fire and badly wounded. In spite of this and an attack of dysentery which reduced him to a skeletal appearance, he refused hospital treatment and carried a badly wounded man to safety when forced to retire. Eight days later he fended off an attack at Sphakia, 22 German soldiers falling to his fire. (First VC)
When leading his company attacking an enemy-held ridge overlooking the El Alamein battlefield, he was wounded twice but took the objective after fierce fighting. He destroyed a German tank, several guns and vehicles with grenades. A machine-gun bullet through the elbow shattered Upham's arm, but he went on again to a forward position and brought back some of his men who had become isolated. (Second VC)
James Allen Ward - 1941; Munster, Germany
On 7 July 1941 after an attack on Münster, Germany the Wellington (AA-R) in which Sergeant Ward was second pilot was attacked by a German night-fighter. The attack opened a fuel tank in the starboard wing and caused a fire at the back of the starboard engine.
The skipper of the aircraft having told him to try to put out the fire, the sergeant crawled out through the narrow astro-hatch on the end of a rope from the aircraft's emergency dinghy. He kicked or tore holes in the aircraft's fabric to give himself hand and foot-holes. By this means he got to the engine and smothered the flames with a canvas cover. Although the fuel continued to leak with the fire out the plane was now safe. His crawl back over the wing in which he had previously torn , was more dangerous than the outward journey, but he managed it with the help of the aircraft's navigator. Instead of the crew having to bail out, the aircraft made an emergency landing at Newmarket.
He was killed in action, Hamburg, Germany, on 15 September 1941.
*Although General Freyberg was born in Britain and received his Victoria Cross while serving in the British Army, he was later commissioned to the New Zealand Territorials and is arguably New Zealand's most famous soldier and military commander. He also served as Governor-General of New Zealand.
- Various Sources, including Wikipedia, New Zealand Defence Force archives.