12 Aug 2011

NZ prisoner of war covert records discovered

8:28 pm on 12 August 2011

Covert war records written by a New Zealand prisoner of war have been discovered in Britain.

Captain David Nelson spent the entire Japanese occupation of Singapore during the World War II at the notorious prison camp in Changi.

While there, Captain Nelson kept records of the movements of his fellow inmates and stowed them away.

When released in 1945, he handed over two trunks of documentation to the British government and they disappeared for over 60 years.

His son, Mason Nelson, believes the notes include details about where many people were buried and could be used to find their graves and is planning a trip to Britain to view the documents.

Mr Nelson said his father felt a duty to those he was captured with.

"I think they were all confident that the day would come when they would be released and it would need to be known what had happened to all these different people. So they considered that they were only doing a service to their fellow men."

A Ministry of Cultural and Heritage war expert, Ian McGibbon, says the records are a rare find and will give great insight into the prisoner of war experience.

Dr McGibbon says some historians have also planned trips to Britain.