List of New Zealand Victoria Cross recipients

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Charles Heaphy, New Zealand's first Victoria Cross recipient

The Victoria Cross is a military decoration awarded for valour of the British and Commonwealth forces. The highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy, it was first instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856 after the Crimean War.[1] Officially there have been 22 Imperial Victoria Crosses awarded to New Zealand military personnel.[2] These awards were bestowed upon 21 individuals, with Charles Upham receiving the award on two separate occasions.[3]


Established in 1856, the Victoria Cross has been awarded to service personnel for extraordinary valour and devotion to duty while facing a hostile force. Between 1858 and 1881 the Victoria Cross could also be awarded for actions taken "under circumstances of extreme danger" not in the face of the enemy.[4] Six people (four Irish, one English and one Canadian) were awarded Victoria Crosses under this clause (one in 1866 during the Fenian raids, five for a single incident in 1867 during the Andaman Islands Expedition), until it was amended in 1881 to only allow acts "in the presence of the enemy".[4][5]

In 1999 the Victoria Cross for New Zealand was created as a separate version of the award solely for New Zealand personnel. To date, there has been one recipient of that award – Willie Apiata for actions in Afghanistan in 2004[6] – although recipients of the Victoria Cross for New Zealand are not included on this list.


The first award to a New Zealander came in 1864 when Charles Heaphy received a Victoria Cross for his actions during the Invasion of Waikato during the New Zealand Wars.[7] Since then there has been one award to a New Zealander serving during the Second Boer War, 11 during World War I, and nine in World War II. There were no awards to New Zealanders for service during the Korean War or the Vietnam War.[8]

In addition to the 22 awards to New Zealand military personnel, there have been seven other awards to New Zealanders serving in overseas forces, which are not included in the official count.[2] Of these, the majority served with the Australian forces during the First World War, including: Alfred Shout, Percy Storkey, Lawrence Weathers, and Thomas Cooke, all of whom are listed as Australian recipients.[9] New Zealand's most famous soldier, Bernard Freyberg is sometimes listed as a New Zealand recipient, although he was serving in the British Army when he performed the deeds that led to his award in 1916,[8] and is not included in the official count. William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse received the award posthumously for service with the Royal Flying Corps in 1915, while William Edward Sanders, commanding HMS Prize, received the award for actions at sea in 1917 while serving in the Royal Navy Reserve.[10] An eighth, Cecil D'Arcy, who served during the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879, is variously listed as a New Zealand or South African recipient,[8][11] but is not officially included on the list of New Zealanders who received the award in overseas forces.[10]


  •   This along with the *, indicates that the Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously
Name Date of action Conflict Unit Place of action Notes
Leslie Andrew 1917 First World War Wellington Infantry Regiment La Basse Ville, Belgium [3][8]
Cyril Bassett 1915 First World War New Zealand Divisional Signal Company Gallipoli, Turkey [3][8]
Donald Brown 1916 First World War Otago Infantry Regiment High Wood, France [3][Note 1]
James Crichton 1918 First World War BB500Auckland Infantry Regiment Crèvecœur, France [3][8]
Keith Elliott 1942 Second World War BB02222nd Battalion Ruweisat, Egypt [3][8]
Samuel Forsyth 1918* First World War Royal New Zealand Engineers Grévillers, France [3][8]
Samuel Frickleton 1917 First World War New Zealand Rifle Brigade Messines, Belgium [3][8]
John Grant 1918 First World War Wellington Infantry Regiment Bancourt, France [3][8]
William Hardham 1901 Second Boer War BB0044th New Zealand Contingent Naauwpoort, South Africa [3][8]
Charles Heaphy 1864 New Zealand Wars BB501Auckland Militia Mangapiko River, New Zealand [3][7][13]
John Hinton 1941 Second World War BB02020th Battalion Kalamai, Greece [3][8]
Alfred Hulme 1941 Second World War BB02323rd Battalion Crete, Greece [3][8]
Reginald Judson 1918 First World War BB500Auckland Infantry Regiment Bapaume, France [3][8]
Harry Laurent 1918 First World War New Zealand Rifle Brigade Gouzeaucourt Wood, France [3][8]
Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu 1943* Second World War BB02828th Battalion Tebaga Gap, Tunisia [3][8]
Henry Nicholas 1917 First World War Canterbury Infantry Regiment Polderhoek, Belgium [3][8]
Richard Travis 1918* First World War Otago Infantry Regiment Rossignol Wood, France [3][14]
Leonard Trent 1943 Second World War No. 487 Squadron RNZAF Amsterdam, Netherlands [3][8]
Lloyd Trigg 1943* Second World War No. 200 Squadron RAF Atlantic [3][15]
Charles Upham 1941
Second World War BB02020th Battalion Crete, Greece (1941)
Ruweisat Ridge, Egypt (1942)
[3][Note 2]
James Ward 1941* Second World War No. 75 Squadron RNZAF Munster, Germany [3][8]
Willie Apiata


War in Afghanistan New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) Afghanistan [16]


  1. ^ Brown died in action three weeks after the action that led to his award.[12]
  2. ^ Upham is one of only three people to have received the Victoria Cross twice.[2]


  1. ^ "Victoria Cross: The Premier Award for Gallantry". Ministry of Defence (UK). Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Lintock, A.H. "Victoria Cross". An Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 1966. Retrieved 15 January 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Lintock, A.H. "Victoria Cross: Awards to New Zealand Servicemen". An Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 1966. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  4. ^ a b Christopher McCreery (2015). The Canadian Honours System. Dundurn. p. 130. ISBN 978-1-4597-2417-4.
  5. ^ "VC background". British War Graves Memorial. Archived from the original on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
  6. ^ "Willie Apiata receives his VC". The New Zealand Herald. 26 July 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2007.
  7. ^ a b "Heaphy, Charles 1820–1881". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "The full list of 22 Kiwi VC winners". The New Zealand Herald. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  9. ^ Staff (25 April 1993). "Our VC Heroes: 96 Brave Men Australia Will Never Forget". The Sunday Mail. pp. 61, 62, 99 & 100.
  10. ^ a b Lintock, A.H. "Awards to New Zealanders in Other Forces". An Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 1966. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  11. ^ "No. 24769". The London Gazette. 10 October 1879. p. 5830.
  12. ^ Gray, John H. (2010). From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth: The New Zealand Division on the Western Front 1916-1918. Christchurch, New Zealand: Wilson Scott Publishing. p. 239. ISBN 978-1-877427-30-5.
  13. ^ "No. 23217". The London Gazette. 8 February 1867. p. 696.
  14. ^ "No. 30922". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 September 1918. p. 11431.
  15. ^ "No. 36230". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 October 1943. p. 4813.
  16. ^ "Willie Apiata Victoria Cross Recipient: A Reluctant Hero".

Further reading

  • Harper, Glyn; Richardson, Colin (2006). In the Face of the Enemy: The Complete History of the Victoria Cross and New Zealand. Auckland: HarperCollins. ISBN 1869505220.
  • Moorhead, Murray (2005). The Queen's Heroes: Victoria & New Zealand Crosses. Zenith, New Plymouth. ISBN 1877365238.
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