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20 Battalion and Armoured Regiment


page 617

Appendix I

The official citations for the Victoria Crosses won by Captain C. H. Upham and Sergeant J. D. Hinton are as follows:

8077 Second-Lieutenant Charles Hazlett Upham

During the operations in Crete this officer performed a series of remarkable exploits, showing outstanding leadership, tactical skill and utter indifference to danger.

He commanded a forward platoon in the attack on maleme on May 22 and fought his way forward for over 3000 yards unsupported by any other arms and against a defence strongly organised in depth. During this operation his platoon destroyed numerous enemy posts but on three occasions sections were temporarily held up.

In the first case, under a heavy fire from an MG nest he advanced to close quarters with pistol and grenades, so demoralizing the occupants that his section was able to ‘mop up’ with ease.

Another of his sections was then held up by two MGs in a house. He went in and placed a grenade through a window, destroying the crew of one MG and several others, the other MG being silenced by the fire of his sections.

In the third case he crawled to within 15 yards of an MG post and killed the gunners with a grenade.

When his Company withdrew from maleme he helped to carry a wounded man out under fire, and together with another officer rallied more men together to carry other wounded men out.

He was then sent to bring in a company which had become isolated. With a corporal he went through enemy territory over 600 yards, killing two Germans on the way, found the company, and brought it back to the Battalion's new position. But for this action it would have been completely cut off.

During the following two days his platoon occupied an exposed position on forward slopes and was continuously under fire. 2/Lieut. Upham was blown over by one mortar shell and painfully wounded by a piece of shrapnel behind the left shoulder by another. He disregarded this wound and remained on duty. He also received a bullet in the foot which he later removed in Egypt.

At galatos on May 25 his platoon was heavily engaged when troops in front gave way and came under severe Mortar and MG fire. While his platoon stopped under cover of a ridge 2/Lieut. Upham page 618 went forward, observed the enemy and brought the platoon forward when the Germans advanced. They killed over 40 with fire and grenades and forced the remainder to fall back.

When his platoon was ordered to retire he sent it back under the platoon Sjt and he went back to warn other troops that they were being cut off. When he came out himself he was fired on by two Germans. He fell and shammed dead, then crawled into a position and having the use of only one arm he rested his rifle in the fork of a tree and as the Germans came forward he killed them both. The second to fall actually hit the muzzle of the rifle as he fell.

On 30th May at sphakia his platoon was ordered to deal with a party of the enemy which had advanced down a ravine to near Force Headquarters. Though in an exhausted condition he climbed the steep hill to the west of the ravine, placed his men in positions on the slope overlooking the ravine and himself went to the top with a Bren Gun and two riflemen. By clever tactics he induced the enemy party to expose itself and then at a range of 500 yards shot 22 and caused the remainder to disperse in panic.

During the whole of the operations he suffered from diarrhoea and was able to eat very little, in addition to being wounded and bruised.

He showed superb coolness, great skill and dash and complete disregard of danger. His conduct and leadership inspired his whole platoon to fight magnificiently throughout, and in fact was an inspiration to the battalion.

Bar to Victoria Cross

From Jun 27 to Jul 15 Capt Upham performed five acts of conspicuous gallantry. He was with his Company during all the fighting that took place during this period though he was wounded on three different occasions—on the night Jun 27/28; on the night Jul 14/15 and again on the afternoon Jul 15. On the first two occasions he rejoined his Company as soon as his wounds were dressed and after the third occasion, when he could no longer walk, he was taken prisoner of war. He showed fine leadership at all times and under his command his Company earned a remarkable reputation in attack. Capt Upham's complete indifference to danger and his personal bravery has become a byword in the whole of the NZEF.

Jun 27th: During the afternoon, when the Germans attacked the NZ positions at Minquar Quaim, the enemy made several attempts to clear a path for their tanks through our minefield. One forward section post of Capt Upham's Coy was occupying an important position on the edge of the minefield, and it was very heavily shelled and machine-gunned. Capt Upham walked forward over the ground that had no cover of any sort and which was swept by enemy fire, stayed with this section for a short period and came away only when he had assured himself that it could carry on and hold its ground.

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Night Jun 27/28: During the night when the NZ Div broke through the Germans at Minquar Quaim, Capt Upham led his men in inspiring fashion and his Coy overcame several enemy posts. The attack took place in very bright moonlight and at one stage a truck full of German soldiers was seen moving slowly through the soft sand. Capt Upham and a Corporal ran forward together, and in spite of heavy Tommy Gun fire from the Germans they reached the side of the truck and with hand grenades wiped out the entire truck load and left the truck in flames. Not one German left the burning vehicle. Capt Upham was slightly wounded in both arms from the explosions of his own grenades. He did not report to get his wounds treated until the following night when the Div was back in new positions, and he then rejoined his Coy.

Night Jul 14/15: During the attack on el ruweisat ridge Capt Upham's Coy was part of the reserve battalion which, during the six miles advance, was about two miles behind the leading battalions. Wireless communication had broken down and Capt Upham was instructed to send forward an officer in a ‘jeep’ to contact the forward battalions and bring back information. He went himself instead and after being fired on by an enemy post, procured a Spandau gun and set it up in the car. He had several further encounters with enemy posts but by operating the gun himself while the driver of the ‘jeep’ drove through anything in their path, he contacted the forward troops and brought back the necessary information.

Just before dawn, when the reserve battalions and the anti-tank guns were almost on to their objective, very heavy fire was encountered from a strongly defended enemy locality. There were four machine-gun posts and about five tanks. Capt Upham's Coy was the leading Coy and he quickly directed the attack on the two nearest MG's, which were using tracer builets. He personally led the attack on one post which was silenced and the enemy bayonetted. During the attack Capt Upham was shot in the elbow by a machine-gun bullet and his arm broken. He stayed with his men until the objective was captured and until positions were consolidated. He then reported to the RAP and then, with his arm in splints, went back to his Coy and stayed with it all day under the most trying conditions of heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire. The enemy made a strong counter-attack late in the afternoon, and Capt Upham was again wounded by mortar fire. He was no longer able to walk.

Capt Upham was taken prisoner of war on 15 Jul 42.

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7930 Sergeant John Daniel Hinton

On the night of 28/29 April 41 during fighting in greece column of German Armoured Forces entered kalamai. This column which contained several armoured cars 2-inch guns and 3-inch mortars and 2 6-inch guns rapidly converged on large force of British and NZ troops awaiting embarkation on beach. When order to retreat to cover was given Sjt. Hinton shouted, ‘To Hell with this who will come with me’, ran to within several yards of nearest guns. The guns fired missing him and he hurled 2 grenades which completely wiped out the crews. He then came on with bayonet followed by a crowd of N.Zers. German troops abandoned first 6-inch gun and retreated into 2 houses. Sjt. Hinton smashed the window and then the door of the first house and dealt with the garrison with bayonet. He repeated the performance in the second house and as a result until overwhelming German forces arrived N.Zers held the guns. Sjt. Hinton then fell with a bullet wound through lower abdomen and was taken prisoner.1

1 Hinton was in Stalag IX C, Badsulza, when the news of his VC came through. All prisoners in the camp were paraded and the announcement was formally made by the German Kommandant.