Jack Hinton was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for his actions on the night of 28 April 1941 at Kalamata during the evacuation from Greece. A column of German troops had entered the port, prompting Hinton – apparently tired of retreating – to organise a counter-attack. The action is described in the citation for his VC:
Yelling ‘to Hell with this, who’ll come with me?’, Hinton:
ran to within several yards of the nearest gun; … he hurled two grenades, which completely wiped out the crew. He then came on with the bayonet followed by a crowd of New Zealanders. German troops abandoned the first 6″ gun and retreated into two houses. Serjeant Hinton smashed the window and then the door of the first house and dealt with the garrison with the bayonet. He repeated the performance in the second house and as a result, until overwhelming German forces arrived, the New Zealanders held the guns. Serjeant Hinton then fell with a bullet wound through the lower abdomen and was taken prisoner.
Hinton spent the rest of the war in POW camps in Greece and Germany. The announcement of the award of the Victoria Cross was made on 17 October 1941. In a departure from custom, Hinton was presented with the ribbon of his medal by a German general at a camp parade. Characteristically, Hinton was at the time being held in solitary confinement after one of several escape attempts.
When ‘JD’, as he was known to his mates, returned to New Zealand after the war he became a publican, managing hotels around the country. He retired in Christchurch in 1980 and died in 1997.
Image: Jack Hinton