By Paul Dykes
When war is on, war is on - and you do what you have to do."
That's the angry response today from Anita Hulme of Te Puke to an unexpected attack on the integrity of her war hero father Alfred Clive Hulme VC.
Massey University historian Glyn Harper accuses her father of "perfidy" (meaning betrayal, double-cross) in his soon-to-be-released book In the Face of the Enemy because Clive Hulme wore part of a German uniform to get close enough to kill enemy soldiers in World War 2.
"They have really dragged things up," Anita Hulme said from her home this morning. "It's awful what they have done," Ms Hulme said.
"It's so upsetting. War is war," she added.
Mr Hulme was awarded the Victoria Cross in October 1941, and was afforded a hero's welcome on return to his home town of Nelson.
Ms Hulme is the sole surviving family member of Clive Hulme, her brother Denny Hulme - world Formula 1 racing champion in 1967 - died of a heart attack while driving in the Bathurst 1000 in 1992, aged 56. Her mother Rona died nine years ago.
She said she had been called "out of the blue" by the book author and asked if she knew her father wore a German uniform during the war. When she said she did know, the caller was stunned and queried: "Is he still a hero in your eyes?"
"I said 'yes'," Ms Hulme recalled.
"When war is on, war is on, and you do what you have to do."
She was also annoyed that a Sunday newspaper article said she had enjoyed listening to her father's war stories, because this was not true.
"The guy's misquoted me saying I enjoyed hearing his stories. Dad never spoke about the war - just the one time. I was just a child. I know nothing about the war. My dad only once ever talked to me about the war.
"This has just shattered me."
She has received an invitation to attend the book launch at Waiouru Museum on Wednesday, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the instigation of the Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria and she was having second thoughts about attending.
"They have done everything they can to say horrible things about him," she said.
"Mum and I went to the 50th reunion of the Crete battle in 1991 and we were treated like royalty. It was a wonderful occasion, and it was obvious what they (the locals) thought of New Zealanders.
Ms Hulme said the family had moved to Te Puke 62 years ago from Nelson, when she was aged four, because her father could not get work.
In the book, Massey University historian Glyn Harper says Hulme's actions during the Battle of Crete in 1941 amounted to "acts of perfidy" under international law.
There was no doubt that Mr Hulme deserved to be decorated, Mr Harper had added, but the use of a disguise was unacceptable.
Peter Wills, deputy director of Auckland University's Centre for Peace Studies, told the Sunday-Star Times that Mr Hulme's actions were "unsanctioned murder" and New Zealand should track down the families of his German victims and apologise to them.
Another academic, Auckland University associate professor of law Bill Hodge, said killing enemy soldiers while wearing their uniform was "prima facie a war crime", often punishable by death if detected on the battlefield.
The book, which Mr Harper co-authored with Colin Richardson, says Mr Hulme wore a German paratrooper's smock and killed 33 German snipers and other German soldiers during the Battle of Crete.
The newspaper reported Anita Hulme as saying her family was well aware her father had worn a German paratroopers' smock during an operation as a way of infiltrating the enemy.
"I didn't know it was against the rules of war. I don't think it's an issue - you do what you need to to survive, don't you?" Ms Hulme said.
By Paul Dykes