Author(s): Tom Scott
Charles Upham was the most highly decorated soldier in the Commonwealth forces of WWII, and could arguably be called the bravest soldier of the war. An unassuming stock worker/ valuer at the beginning of the war, he stormed through Crete and the Western Desert amazing and confounding his comrades with his exploits. He won two Victoria Crosses (the only combat soldier ever to do so) and in the opinion of his superiors deserved many more. Captured, he became an escape artist and ended his war in the famous Colditz POW camp. Shy and reluctant to take credit for his actions, he deflected all praise onto his soldiers and was described as "distraught" that he had been honoured. He then farmed in North Canterbury until his death in 1994, avoiding the limelight wherever possible. There has been one previous biography, "Mark of the Lion" published in 1962, which was a major bestseller and sells to this day.