What do you want… a medal?

The theft of the war medals from the army museum in Waiouru has turned into a fascinating study. It raises a number of questions in my mind:

1) If the medals are as valuable as claimed why was security so feeble?

2) Why are New Zealand's crack fighting troops, the SAS at war in Afghanistan when the official line is that kiwis are simply helping with 'regional reconstruction' - isn't that a job for sappers?

Here is the citation for Corp. Willy Apaiata's V.C.

It was 3.15am one morning in Afghanistan in 2004 when a troop of SAS soldiers came under fire from 20 enemy fighters with machine and rocket propelled grenades.

Apiata was blown off the bonnet of his vehicle in the attack and one of colleagues was seriously injured. Apiata picked up his colleague and carried him 70 metres in what was described as broken, rocky and fire-swept ground under heavy fire. He placed his colleague into safety and then joined the counter attack.

Doesn't sound like regional reconstruction to me.

3)Why are we anti-nuclear but pro-war? Selective pacifism?

4)Why can't the police fiend the thieves but a news channel can?

5)Why not simply send over some dupes of the originals, they probably cost about four buck each to make. I'm not dismissing the heroism that warranted the citation in the first place but fetishising the medals seems, well, fetishistic - craven objects and all that.

6) Should the Hulme medal be celebrated? In Crete he broke the rules of war and callously killed 30 Germans, soldiers just like him, while he was disguised in a German uniform? Was that an act of bravery or cowardice?

From the Telegraph (UK)

VC winner branded a war criminal

A ruse that helped to win a soldier the Victoria Cross during the Second World War was a "war crime" and New Zealand should apologise to the families of the snipers he killed, it was claimed yesterday.

Alfred Clive Hulme, the father of Denny Hulme, the late world motor racing champion, was awarded the VC for bravery in killing 33 German snipers over eight days during the Battle of Crete in 1941. He returned home a hero to the town of Nelson.

But a new book by two military historians says that, in winning his VC, Sgt Hulme committed "acts of perfidy" under international law.

Lt Col Glyn Harper, a professor at the New Zealand army's Military Studies Institute, who co-authored the book, In the Face of the Enemy, said that on one occasion Sgt Hulme donned a German paratrooper's smock, climbed up behind a nest of enemy snipers, and pretended to be part of their group.

"He shot the leader first, and as the other four snipers looked around to see where the shot had come from, Hulme also turned his head as if searching for the shooter," the book says.

"Then he shot and killed two more." He shot the other two as they tried to leave.

"Hulme deserved the VC for his outstanding bravery, but he shouldn't have done what he did in disguising himself."

Other academics have supported the book's claims. Peter Wills, the deputy director of the Centre for Peace Studies at Auckland University, said Sgt Hulme's actions were "unsanctioned murder".

He told the Sunday Star-Times that the New Zealand government should apologise to the families of the Germans he killed. Bill Hodge, associate professor of law at Auckland University, said killing enemy soldiers while wearing their uniform was "prima facie a war crime".

A jolly jape…


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