Featherston POW Camp was located
at Featherston in the South Wairarapa District, Wellington Region of the North island of New Zealand. Located to the southwest is Wellington.
During the Pacific War, Featherston POW Camp was established at this location to detain Japanese Prisoners Of War (POW) detained in the South Pacific. Prisoners were assigned to work details in the area.
During February 1943, tensions in the Featherston camp in New Zealand increased when a large contingent of prisoners captured after naval battles in Iron Bottom Sound north of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Among the prisoners, several Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) junior officers from Furutaka led other harliners in the camp plus other more moderate prisoners in a strike over labor conditions.
On February 25, 1943, Lt(jg) Adachi Totaro led a sit down protest opposing work detail. Frightened New
guards opened fire on the protesters and one of the Japanese officers was shot by the camp’s deputy commander, Lieutenant Malcolm. In response, a melee broke out with 240 rebellious prisoners rioting. When
it ended, one New Zealand soldier was killed: Private Walter Allan Pelvin, 496685 and several others were wounded. 48 Japanese POWs were killed and
The Japanese government protested the “massacre” of unarmed nationals at Featherston – without directly referring to them as “prisoners of war” – the New Zealand court of inquiry cleared the camp authorities of any blame, though it did feel the “extreme action of Lieutenant Malcolm” was the immediate act of provocation. Adachi Toshio survived, was repatriated to Japan
where he was to become a minister and visited Featherston in
1986 on a missions of remembrance and goodwill.
Chronicles tells the story of the riot.
Walter Allan Pelvin
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
January 9, 2018