New Zealand soldier's brave sacrifice

13 February 1974

Sergeant Murray Hudson
Sergeant Murray Hudson (6 Hauraki Association)

Sergeant Murray Hudson died attempting to save the life of another soldier during a live grenade training exercise at Waiōuru military camp. For this selfless act, the 35-year-old received a posthumous George Cross – one of only three awarded to New Zealanders since the medal’s establishment in 1940.

Ōpotiki-born, Hudson joined the regular New Zealand Army in 1961 after a spell in the Territorial Force. He went on to serve with the Special Air Service (SAS) and 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1RNZIR) in South-East Asia, first during the Confrontation in Borneo and then in Vietnam with Victor 5 Company, 2RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion. He was posted back to New Zealand in 1971.

On 13 February 1974, Hudson was supervising a live grenade practice when the soldier in his bunker, Sergeant Graham Fergusson, accidentally armed the grenade he was about to throw. Realising the danger, Hudson ordered Fergusson to get rid of the grenade immediately. When Fergusson hesitated, Hudson reached for the grenade in an attempt to throw it out of the bunker. It exploded before he could do this, killing both men.

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