Jack Hinton

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John Daniel Hinton
Nickname(s) Jack
Born 17 September 1909
Colac Bay, Southland
Died 28 June 1997 (aged 87)
Buried at Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch
Allegiance  New Zealand
Service/branch New Zealand Army
Years of service 1939 - 1945
Rank Sergeant
Unit 20th Battalion, Canterbury Regiment

World War II

Awards Victoria Cross
Other work Hotel manager
Racing steward

John Daniel 'Jack' Hinton VC (17 September 1909 – 28 June 1997) was a New Zealander, a World War II soldier in 2NZEF who was awarded the Victoria Cross for leading an assault in Greece in 1941. The Victoria Cross, is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Captured by the Germans, Hinton twice escaped.

Early years[edit]

Jack Hinton was born in Colac Bay, Southland on 17 September 1909. He had only a rudimentary education, having a variety of tough manual jobs including at the age of 12 working on a whaling ship which visited Antarctica.

While on the West Coast Hinton played rugby league for Inangahua Valley during the depression while working for New Zealand Railways.[1] Hinton played at Fullback while future MP Stanley Whitehead was at Five-eighth.

World War II[edit]

At the outbreak of war he enlisted in Colonel Howard Kippenberger's 20th Battalion 2nd NZEF (The Canterbury Regiment), and rapidly rose to the rank of sergeant. He was sent to the Middle East with the 2nd New Zealand Division under General Bernard Freyberg.

Shortly after the division arrived in Egypt, Hinton was commanding a squad practising shooting when visited by Freyberg, who asked him how the men were shooting. 'How would you expect them to bloody well shoot?', replied Hinton, '—not enough bloody rations, stinking heat and sand'. Freyberg asked him to repeat the comment, which he did word for word. Hinton was not disciplined and a ration increase was announced that evening.

The 20th battalion deployed to Greece to support the Greek resistance to Italian and German invasion, seeing action at Thermopylae before falling back. On 29 April 1941 the unit was preparing to withdraw by sea when the New Zealand troops heading for the port of Kalamata to await evacuation were attacked by enemy machine-gun fire and self-propelled 6-inch guns. While organising a counter-attack Hinton was ordered to retreat and evacuate from the port. He dismissed the order with the words; "Fuck that, who's coming with me". He later explained his action as being because "I didn't like the way things were going". However it should be stated he met up with and had the full support of his immediate commanding officer for most of the action. Sergeant Hinton rushed forward to the nearest gun and, hurling two grenades, killed the crew. He continued towards the quay, clearing out two light machine-gun nests and a mortar with grenades, then dealt with the garrison of a house where some of the enemy were sheltering. He then assisted in the capture of an artillery piece, but shortly after was shot in the stomach, immobilised and captured.

While a prisoner of war Hinton twice escaped, and made several other attempts. He was told he had been awarded the VC as he lay in hospital recovering from a beating given after one of these attempts. Jack Hinton received his Victoria Cross from King George VI on May 11, 1945, at Buckingham Palace.

Later Years[edit]

After returning home, Hinton spent many years managing hotels up and down New Zealand before settling in Auckland. He served as a steward at several racing and trotting clubs. Jack Hinton died in 1997 and was honoured by New Zealand with a state funeral.

Grave with headstone at Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch, New Zealand, Returned Servicemen's League Section.

Victoria Cross[edit]

His Victoria Cross was displayed at the Army Museum New Zealand, Waiouru, New Zealand. On Sunday 2 December 2007 it was one of nine Victoria Crosses that were among a hundred medals stolen from the museum.[2] On 16 February 2008 New Zealand Police announced all the medals had been recovered as a result of a NZ$300,000 reward offered by Michael Ashcroft and Tom Sturgess.[3]


  1. ^ Lion Red Rugby League Annual 1994, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1994. p.209
  2. ^ Derek Cheng (December 2007). "Army medal theft 'insult' to our nation's heritage". nzherald. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  3. ^ Stolen War Medals Recovered

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