Charles H. Upham
Charles Hazlitt UPHAM (1928-1930, 1939), V.C. and Bar, distinguished alumnus, died on 22 November 1994.
Charles Upham was a student in the last three-year Diploma group (1928-1930) and after graduation worked on a number of North Canterbury farms including that of Arthur Shand, Island Hills, before joining the Valuation Department.
In 1939 he returned to Lincoln and enrolled in the second Dip VFM course. The 1941 College magazine records that Charles Upham was outstanding. Keen perception in combination with an exceedingly wide background of farming experience stood him in good stead and he was regarded as a certainty for honours and likely winner of the Gold Medal for the course. With his fellow students he was a general favourite. His readiness to assist less fortunate students in their class work gained him many firm friends and his ready humour and fund of anecdotes were a tonic to the whole course as examination time approached.
Following the outbreak of war he enlisted for service in September, interrupting his studies, but not his interest in 'College activities'. He 'borrowed' a Burnham bike, cycled to Lincoln at full speed, ran in the Old Boys' race at the College sports (and won!) and immediately cycled back to Burnham hoping his absence wouldn't be noticed.
He left New Zealand as a Sergeant in the Advance Guard of the First Echelon.
Captain Upham's war exploits have been well recorded. Sufficient to say here is that what First World War Veteran and College Director, Professor E R Hudson, wrote of him to the CO at Burnham was quite prophetic: 'A young man by the name of Upham has left the College to join your unit. I commend him to your notice, as unless I am greatly mistaken, he should be an outstanding soldier'.
In 1946 on the occasion of the presentation of the Upham portrait hanging in Memorial Hall, the President of the Old Students' Association, Eric Beamish said, 'We know Captain Upham as a gallant officer of the 2nd NZEF. We are proud too, to know him as one of thousands of returned servicemen. We think especially of that magnificent advice he gave to those who are so free with their thankfulness to returning men - 'Be practical with your thanks.'
Lincoln honoured Charles Upham with the first Honorary Life Membership of the Old Students' Association.
He was embarrassed by a large sum of money given by Canterbury people to provide him with a farm, insisting that it fund student scholarships at Lincoln and Canterbury University.
In recent years Charles Upham returned to Lincoln for a reunion (1988) and again last year for a reunion of rugby greats and first fifteen veterans. Source: Alumni News 1995 08Date of Birth21st September 1908Date of Death22 November 1994PersonCharles H. UphamMilitary Serial Number8077Military RankCaptainExternal LinkCenotaph DatabaseCommonwealth War Graves CommissionKeywordsWorld War Twoactive service
VC: Gazetted 14 October 1941, citation: "Between 22 and 30 May 1941 in Crete, Second Lieutenant Upham displayed oustanding leadership and courage in the very close-quarter fighting. He was blown up by one mortar shell and badly wounded by another. He was also wounded in the foot, but in spite of his wounds and a severe attack of dysentery, he refused to go hospital. He carried a wounded man back to safety when his company was forced to retire on 22 May and on 30 May he beat off an attack at Sphakia, 22 Germans falling to his short-range fire." - Register of the Victoria Cross, p. 319.
VC bar: Gazetted 26 September 1945, citation: "On 14/15 July 1942 at El Ruweisat Ridge, Western Desert, Captain Upham, in spite of being twice wounded, insisted on remaining with his men. Just before dawn he led his company in a determined attack, capturing the objective after fierce fighting; he himself destroyed a German tank and several guns and vehicles with hand grenades. Although his arm had been broken by a machine-gun bullet, he continued to dominate the situation and when at last, weak from loss of blood, he had his wounds dressed, he immediately returned to his men, remaining with them until he was again severely wounded and unable to move." - Register of the Victoria Cross, p. 319.