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Grand Years     1 May 2024

Image 1 for NZ Scene: World War 2 - He was decorated with double VCs

NZ Scene: World War 2 - He was decorated with double VCs


The bold and the brave!

He became the first New Zealander in World War 2 to be awarded two Victoria Crosses – 1941 and 1943; he also was the world’s only double VC winner. His name? Captain Charles Upham.

Born in Christchurch, Upham, wounded and seriously ill, won his first VC in Crete when he rescued a company from behind enemy lines under heavy fire.

His second act of valour happened in North Africa a year later when Upham resisted attempts to leave his company despite having been shot.


Main: The soldiers arrive home. In the pack are those who would have fought under Upham.

More NZ soldiers died in World War 1 and World War 2, per head of population, “than did soldiers of any other Western nation." TIME reported. NZ involvement in Would War 2 was considerable, with more than 135,000 men and women serving in the armed forces  overseas.

By 1942, that number had increased to nearly 160,000.

Eight of the 6500-odd decorations won by New Zealanders were VCs, one with bar; the first airman in World War 2 to win a VC was Sgt. J Ward in July 1941.

Captain Upham’s two VCs … never did anything by halves.

Major William Hardman, a farrier, was the first to win the VC overseas during the South African War, which started in 1899 and 1902.

The first airman to win a VC in the Great War, was Second Lt. W. Rhodes-Moorhouse, of the Royal Flying Corp; the first Māori to win a VC was Second Lt. te Moana-Nui-kiwa Ngarimu, in North Africa, in 1943.

The Victoria Cross was instigated by Queen Victoria at the end of the Crimean War against Russia for acts of ‘conspicuous’ valour in war. – Frank Morris.

The GREATEST Allied Soldier Of World War 2



Great Kiwi Firsts!

Kiwis have loved their movies

Christchurch promoter A. E. Young was the first to show ‘silent’ movies in 1893. These magical black and white comedies flickered on a rudimentary screen to the accompaniment of a piano. One of the first sound films, Light of New York, opened in Wellington in 1928. Kiwis have loved their movies. In the late 1950s NZ had one cinema seat for 7.5 persons, a record it shared with Australia; and for cinema attendances, it ranks fifth behind Ireland, Britain, East Germany (as it was then) and Italy. Auckland opened the first air-conditioned cinema in 1958. – FM.

Anyone for Pavlova? 

A rich, sweet dish of meringue and marshmallow topped with whipped cream and fruit. The Pavlova originated in New Zealand. It was named after a celebrated Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who twice toured NZ in the 1920s. Pavlova rose through the ranks quickly. She was once dancing for her teacher, Pavel Gerdt, when she went into a set of acrobatics. Gerdt flew into a rage. He told her: “Leave the acrobatics to others. You put pressure on all your delicate muscles. I beg you, don’t try to imitate those who are much stronger than you”. It happened in the 1900s. Pavlova never forgot that dressing down. Anna died at 12.30pm on January 23, 1931. – FM.

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