Charles Upham's medals to stay in New Zealand

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Photograph of Charles Upham.

The Victoria Cross and bar awarded to soldier, Charles Upham, have been sold to Britain's Imperial War Museum in London. The Victoria Cross and bar, also known as a double Victoria Cross, were only awarded to one combat solider, Mr Upham. The medals will, however, remain in New Zealand as they are on loan to New Zealand for 999 years, this is welcoming news to the New Zealand government.

The medals were not exactly donated to New Zealand as it is currently illegal to export the medals, but it still generous to donate them so New Zealand can still see the medals at the Queen Elizabeth II Army Memorial Museum. His family had requested that they be on view.

Amanda Upham and Virginia MacKenzie are Mr Uphams daughters and are the ones who sold the medals to the war museum in Britain. The medals were sold for an unknown amount of money, however it was known that they had wanted NZ$3.3 million.

The government had offered to buy the medals for $1 million, this was rejected by the two daughters which caused a lot of controversy. A collector had then offered $9 million.

Speaking in Hong Kong, Phil Goff, minister of defence, said: "I'm hugely pleased the Upham medals will now be held at the Waiouru Army Museum in perpetuity as part of New Zealand's military heritage." Mr Goff also thanked a trust that worked together with the museum to make sure that New Zealand was still able to view the medals.

Mr Upham had won his Victoria Crosses in World War Two. His first Victoria Cross was won in the Battle of Crete in 1941. And he won his bar in the Western Desert about a year after his first Victoria Cross.

A Victoria Cross is the highest medal available to be awarded for bravery in the Commonwealth Realm.