Reginald Judson

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Reginald Judson
Reginald Stanley Judson VC.jpg
Born (1881-09-29)29 September 1881
Wharehine, New Zealand
Died 26 August 1972(1972-08-26) (aged 90)
Auckland, New Zealand
Allegiance  New Zealand
Service/branch Crest of the New Zealand Army.jpg New Zealand Military Forces
Years of service 1915–1937
1939–1946
Rank Major
Unit 1st Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment
Guards Vital points Battalion
Battles/wars

First World War

Second World War
Awards Victoria Cross
Distinguished Conduct Medal
Military Medal
New Zealand VC winners, 1945
Back row, left to right: Col. L.W. Andrew, Maj. R.S. Judson, Pte. J.D. Crichton, Lt. H.J. Laurent, Lt. C.R.G. Bassett
Front row, Sg. J.D. Hinton, Lt. K. Elliott, Cpt. C.H. Upham, Sg. A.C. Hulme, Cpt. S. Frickleton, Lt. J.G. Grant.

Reginald Stanley Judson VC DCM MM (29 September 1881 – 26 August 1972) was a New Zealand recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest military award for gallantry in the face of the enemy given to British and Commonwealth forces, which he received during the First World War. At the time of performing the actions that led to his award of the VC, he had already been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal, with all three medals being won in a four-week period between July and August 1918. He also served on the home front during the Second World War.

Early life[edit]

Reginald Stanley Judson was born into a farming family at Wharehine, north of Auckland, New Zealand on 29 September 1881. He was educated at Port Albert and after completing a mechanical engineering apprenticeship, he worked as a boilermaker and engineer. In 1905 he married Ethel Grice and the union resulted in four children.[1] However, when he enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in October 1915, he gave his occupation as a boot maker.[2]

First World War[edit]

Judson embarked for the Middle East in January 1916 with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade to join the rest of the NZEF.[2] In February, he was transferred to 1st Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment.[3] Promoted to corporal, he participated in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on 15 September 1916, where he was seriously wounded. He was evacuated to England where he would spend nearly two years recovering from his injuries.[4]

In June 1918, Judson, now a sergeant, returned to the battalion, which as part of the New Zealand Division was engaged in fighting in the Somme sector. Late the following month, he rescued six of his fellow soldiers during a German counterattack near Hebuterne. For this action, he was recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). On 16 August, he was at the forefront of a bayonet charge at Bucquoy that earned him the Military Medal (MM).[3]

Ten days later, Judson participated in the Second Battle of Bapaume during which his actions led to his award of the Victoria Cross (VC). The actions which led to Judson being awarded the VC, the DCM and the MM took place over a period of just four weeks. The citation for Judson's VC was published in the same edition of the London Gazette as the citation for his DCM.[3] His VC citation read as follows:

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when, in an attack on enemy positions, he led a small bombing party under heavy fire and captured an enemy machine-gun. He then proceeded up the sap alone, bombing three machine-gun crews before him. Jumping out of the trench he ran ahead of the enemy. Then, standing on the parapet, he order the party, consisting of two officers and about ten men, to surrender. They instantly fired on him, but he threw a bomb and jumped down amongst them, killed two, and put the rest to flight, and so captured two machine-guns. This prompt and gallant action not only saved many lives, but also enabled the advance to be continued unopposed.

—The London Gazette, No. 30982, 30 October 1918[5]

In September, Judson was a victim of a gassing attack and returned to England to recover his health. He then attended an officer training school and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.[4]

Interwar period[edit]

Judson's grave at Waikumete Cemetery

Judson was discharged from the NZEF in January 1919 but opted to remain in the New Zealand Military Forces. He joined the New Zealand Staff Corps as a commissioned officer.[4] Due to his war wounds (eight fragments of shrapnel remained in his chest and abdomen) and the after effects of his gassing, his health was fragile, and he had two periods of extended sick leave in 1924 and 1934. Despite being regarded as a reliable and conscientious officer, promotion opportunities in the postwar Staff Corps were limited and when he retired in 1937, it was with the rank of captain.[3]

Judson's marriage to Ethel had ended in divorce in 1920 but eight years later he married Kate Wilson, a war widow, and had a fifth child.[1] On his retirement, Judson's pension was insufficient to support him and his children.[3] Unable to return to his civilian trade of engineering due to his poor health, he subsequently found employment as a secretary at a school in Auckland.[3] A year later, he was voted onto Auckland City Council for the Citizens and Ratepayers Association and served for nine years.[1] He was one of six candidates who stood for selection for the Auckland East electorate by the National Party for the 1938 election, but Harry Merritt was chosen instead.[6]

Second World War[edit]

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Judson volunteered for military service. He served on the home front for the duration of the war, commanding the Guards Vital points Battalion in Auckland. He retired from the military in September 1946 with the rank of major.[3] One of his sons, Reginald, served with the 24th Battalion as a chaplain and won the Military Cross during the Italian Campaign.[1][7]

Later life[edit]

Judson moved to Mangonui, Northland and took up farming. He was also community minded, and served as a justice of the peace as well as being a coroner. He retired in the late 1950s, and returned to Auckland where he died on 26 August 1972. He was buried at Waikumete Cemetery, survived by his wife and four children.[1]

The Medal[edit]

Judson's Victoria Cross was displayed at the QEII Army Memorial Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand. On 2 December 2007 it was one of nine Victoria Crosses that were among a hundred medals stolen from the museum.[8] 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.[9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Taylor, Richard J. "Judson, Reginald Stanley". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Reginald Stanley Judson". Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database. Retrieved 2013-03-23. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Harper & Richardson 2007, pp. 165–169.
  4. ^ a b c McGibbon 2000, p. 261.
  5. ^ McDonald 2012, p. 135.
  6. ^ Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years : A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. pp. 26, 28. ISBN 0-474-00177-6. 
  7. ^ Burdon 1953, pp. 217–218.
  8. ^ Derek Cheng (December 2007). "Army medal theft 'insult' to our nation's heritage". nzherald. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  9. ^ NZPA (February 2008). "Medals stolen from Waiouru Army Museum recovered". nzherald. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 

References[edit]

  • Burdon, R. M. (1953). 24 Battalion. Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–45. Wellington, New Zealand: War History Branch. OCLC 559408067. 
  • Harper, Glyn; Richardson, Colin (2007). In the Face of the Enemy: The Complete History of the Victoria Cross and New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: HarperCollins Publishers (New Zealand) Limited. ISBN 1869506502. 
  • McDonald, Wayne (2012). Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War 1914–1918, 3rd Edition. Hamilton, New Zealand: Richard Stowers. ISBN 0-473-07714-0. 
  • McGibbon, Ian, ed. (2000). The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History. Auckland, New Zealand: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-558376-0. 

External links[edit]