The mystery of how a modest farm vauler from New Zealand could be so ferocious and fearless in battle has fascinated author Tom Scott ever since, as a schoolboy, he read about Charles Upham- the only combat soldier to ever win the Victoria Cross twice. His numerous acts of bravery in the Second World War meant he probably deserved six more.
When Charlie died, his old foes, the famed Afrika Korps, took the extraordinary step of placing a death notice in the Christchurch Press newspaper saluting him 'as one of the bravest and one of the best soldiers'.
In 2019, Scott went on a pilgrimage to Charlie's old battlegrounds in Crete and Egypt and his former POW camps in Germany and Italy. He also visited Charlie's childhood haunts and learnt about his saintly uncle and namesake, Doctor Charles Upham, who took his nephew on house calls to a local leper colony. The seeds of Charlie's powerful ethical compass, his compassion, deep-seated sense of fair play and abhorrence of bigotry and prejudice were sown here.
His moral courage lent wings to his physical courage. Working in New Zealand's rugged high country gave him strength and stamina, made him a crack shot and gave him a feel for terrain that served him well in battle, helping him become a living legend within the New Zealand Division- an epithet he detested.
Meticulously researched and superbly crafted, Searching for Charlie is the must read story of one of New Zealand's greatest heroes.