Skip to main content

Featherston cemetery First World War memorial

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Featherston soldiers cemetery war memorial obelisk, war memorial wall and cross of sacrifice.

Soldiers who died at the Featherston Military Training Camp were buried in a designated portion of the Featherston Cemetery, generally known as the Featherton Military Cemetery or Featherston Soldiers' Cemetery. On 11 December 1917 the Minister of Defence, Sir James Allen, unveiled a memorial to the men buried there. This was a 22-ft high concrete obelisk set on a granite base. It was inscribed on the front as follows: 

IN MEMORY / OF / SOLDIERS WHO DIED /AT THE MILITARY TRAINING CAMP / FEATHERSTON / DURING THE GREAT WAR / "THEY ALSO SERVE WHO ONLY / STAND AND WAIT" / - / THIS MONUMENT / IS ERECTED BY THEIR COMRADES / FEATHERSTON MILITARY CAMP.

Seventeen names were inscribed on another face. In November 1919, the names of a further 180 soldiers and nurses - most of them victims of the recent influenza epidemic - were  added to the memorial, inscribed on marble tablets set around its base.

The New Zealand Government later erected a cross of sacrifice at the other end of the cemetery, in the style designed by British architect Reginald Blomfield for the Imperial War Graves Commission. This was unveiled on Anzac Day 1931.

On 11 November 2005, a memorial wall (the 'Messines Wall'), was dedicated behind the memorial obelisk. This was created by local landscaper Paul Hopkins, using old privately erected headstones which had been stored at the back of the cemetery since being replaced by official standardized headstones in 1970. The memorial wall project was funded by the South Wairarapa Rotary Club to mark the 30th anniversary of the twinning of Featherston with the Belgian town of Messines.

On 15 November 2020, the Featherston Lioness's Club, not long before its dissolution, unveiled another commemorative sculpture at the cemetery.

See: 'Featherstone Cemetery: memorial to dead soldiers', Press, 7/12/1917, p. 3;  'Soldiers' memorial: monolith at Featherston', NZ Herald, 12/12/1917, p. 8; 'Local and general news', NZ Herald, 7/11/1919, p. 6; 'Cross of sacrifice: Featherston memorial', Evening Post, 28/4/1931, p. 16; David Yerex, Featherston, the First 150 years, 1857-2007, Featherston, 2007, pp. 127, 132; 'Old headstones in new memorial', Wairarapa News, 28/12/2005, p. 21; Adele Pentony-Graham, 'Memorial wall dedicated to soldiers who died at Featherson', NZ Genealogist, no. 297, January/February 2006, p. 32; Neil Frances, Safe Haven: The Untold Story of New Zealand's Largest Ever Military Camp, Featherston: 1916-1919, Masterton, 2012, pp. 138-45; Tim Shoebridge, Featherston Military Training Camp and the First World War, 1915-27, Wellington, [print edition] 2012, pp. 34-5; Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge, New Zealands' First World War Heritage, Auckland, 2015, pp. 172, 218, 222; 'Community group unveils sculpture', Wairarapa Times-Age, 20/11/2020, p. 5.

See also Featherston camp death register for more information about the people listed on this memorial

Credit

Images: Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge, 2011
Text: Bruce Ringer, 2022

How to cite this page

Featherston cemetery First World War memorial, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/memorial/featherston-cemetery-war-memorial, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated


Keywords