A Family at War

This is the story of the Wishaw family - Mabel, Harry and Bernard. Allow about an hour for the full tour.

Mabel WhishawHarry WhishawBernard Whishaw


Mabel, Bernard and Harry Whishaw were three of Catherine and John Whishaw’s eight children, from Stoneridge, Featherston.

Mabel, the eldest of the three siblings was born in 1883 in Kakaramea, South Taranaki. Harry was born in 1885 in Wellington and Bernard, the youngest, in 1893.

In 1914 at the start of WWI, Mabel was 31 years old, Harry was 29 and Bernard 21.


Featherston Heritage Museum
Fitzherbert Street
Behind the Fell Locomotive Museum

Before you follow the Whishaw's story, stop at the Featherston Heritage Museum. Here you'll get a feel for the layout and environment of the Featherston Military Camp and other aspects of training life through the photographs and memorabilia on display.


Featherston Military Camp 
State Highway 2

Featherston Military Camp

Featherston Military Camp was a temporary home for over 60,000 soldiers in training between January 1916 and November 1918. The barracks housed 4500, with a tent camp (Canvas Camp) holding about 3000. 

Mabel became a military nurse at the Featherston Military Hospital in 1916. In April 1918 she was promoted from Staff Nurse to Sister. Three months later, the influenza pandemic arrived. By mid-November, some 2,500 men were sick, and the hospital was overwhelmed.  

Here's a good map to see the layout of the military camp in relation to current roads. The hospital area was south of today's SH2, bounded by Main Road and Camp Road, opposite the barrack camp.


Tauherenikau Camp
Tauherenikau Race Course
State Highway 2

Tauherenikau Camp

Tauherenikau Military Camp was set up in August 1915. Bernard trained here then embarked for the Suez in Egypt two months later. When he left, he was a member of the Wellington Mounted Riflemen. At some time during his service in Egypt he moved to the NZ Mounted Rifles Machine Gun Squadron.

Bernard died of malaria in October 1918. He was 26. He is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.


Featherston War Memorial
Corner of Fitzherbert Street and Fox Street

Featherston War Memorial unveiling 25 May 1927

All three Whishaw children’s names are listed on this memorial.

Harry, a labourer, enlisted in August 1914 and by October 1914 was on his way to Suez. He saw action in Gallipoli, Egypt and Western Europe. At Gallipoli, Harry was wounded twice; first in April 1915 with a bullet to the neck and again in August, with shrapnel in his hand.

Harry was killed in action near Armentieres, France on 3 July 1916. He was 32. He is buried in France at the Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery in Armentieres.


Featherston Cemetery
Grave Reference 85
Western Lake Road, Featherston

Featherston Cemetary War Graves

Mabel is buried here at the Featherston Cemetery. She is the only Whishaw sibling to be buried at home.

Mabel died from influenza while nursing at the Featherston Military Camp, at the height of the epidemic. Her younger brother Bernard had died just three weeks earlier. Mabel was 34.

None of the Wishaw siblings had married.


Service Numbers:

Mabel Helen Whishaw 22/371

Harry Guthrie Whishaw 10/154

Bernard Guthrie Whishaw 11/1996


Other stories you might like to follow:

Corner of Fitzherbert Street and Fox Street
Featherston 5710
New Zealand