Question 26

Here is one which might keep you guessing for a little while.  Click Play to Listen.

Answer – Mutiny in April 1947 involved ratings and senior ratings from HMNZS Tasman, Philomel, Black Prince, Bellona, Arbutus and Hautapu over poor pay and conditions. The RNZN were paid less than their counterparts in the NZ Army and the RNZAF. Although anyone with a dishonourable discharge was prevented from employment in the public service or any government-owned or -operated organisation, the government illegally applied the ban to the mutineers, even though their discharges were not marked as ‘dishonourable’. This prevented many mutineers from seeking employment in jobs that used their learned skills; for example, the only non-military employer of telegraphists in New Zealand was the Post and Telegraph Department.

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7 Responses to Question 26

  1. John Bullock says:

    During April 1947, the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) was affected by a series of peaceful mutinies amongst the sailors and non-commissioned officers of four ships and two shore bases. The main cause was the poor rates of pay compared to the rest of the New Zealand Defence Force, and coincided with the release of a government review on the matter a year late, and without a promised backdating of pay to the review’s original release date. Another major issue was the poor working and living conditions aboard RNZN ships, which were compounded by having no way to make dissatisfaction known through the chain of command or through lower-deck welfare committees; the latter could not discuss matters relating to pay, shipboard routine, or service conditions.

    The main mutiny started on the morning of 1 April, when around 100 sailors from the shore base HMNZS Philomel, in Devonport, declared their intent to refuse duty in protest of the governments’ broken promises on pay. They were later joined by as many personnel from the cruiser HMNZS Black Prince and the corvette HMNZS Arbutus, and marched off the base. After campaigning for three days and winning the right to backdated pay, the mutineers were offered a choice: return to duty and accept punishment, or be discharged. The majority chose the latter; these men were financially penalised, denied access to veterans’ benefits, and had trouble finding other work because of government bans on employing them. Subsequent mutinies occurred at the shore base HMNZS Tasman, at Lyttelton, and aboard the minesweeper HMNZS Hautapu and the cruiser HMNZS Bellona: while taking up the issue of welfare committees, these mutineers also tried to have the poor treatment of their colleagues at Devonport reversed. There were no more discharges, but 52 men deserted.

    Overall, up to 20% of the sailors in the RNZN were involved in the mutinies. The resulting manpower shortage forced the RNZN to remove Black Prince, one of their most powerful warships, from service, and set the navy’s development and expansion back by a decade. Despite this impact, the size and scope of the events have been downplayed over time.

  2. zl1arb says:

    Philomel, Tamaki, Bellona, Black Prince, Arabis, Arbutus, Mutiny, 1946, Govt failure to implement new pay scale.

    Peter S

  3. Philomel, Tamaki, Bellona, Black prince, Arabis, Arbutus, 1946, Mutiny/Strike, Salary increase

  4. Albie Cross says:

    (1) declaration of intent to refuse duty.
    (2) Black Prince Bellona Arbutus Hautapu Philomel Tasman
    (3) April 1947
    (4) poor rates of pay compared to the rest of the NZDF.

  5. John Snow says:

    1947 when RNZN way behind other Defence Forces with pay rates. Shore Establishments were Philomel and Tasman. Ships Black Prince, Arbutus, Hautapu and Bellona.

  6. Trev Appleton says:

    = Four ships and two establishments of the RNZN were involved in a punishable offence not long after World War Two. What was this offence, the name of the ships and establishments, the month and year it took place and the cause? = k

    During April 1947 the RNZN was affected by a series of peaceful mutinies amongst the sailors and non-commissioned officers of four ships and two shore bases.
    – Ships involved
    HMNZS Black Prince, HMNZS Arbutus, HMNZS Hautapu, HMNZS Belonna
    – Establishments involved
    HMNZS Philomel, HMNZS Tasman

    The main cause was the poor rates of pay compared to the rest of the NZ Defence Force, and coincided with the release of a government review on the matter a year late, and without a promised backdating of pay to the review’s original release date. Another major issue was the poor working and living conditions aboard RNZN ships, which were compounded by having no way to make dissatisfaction known through the chain of command or through lower-deck welfare committees; the latter could not discuss matters relating to pay, shipboard routine, or service conditions.

    The mutineers were offered a choice: return to duty and accept punishment, or be discharged. The majority chose the latter; these men were financially penalized, denied access to veterans’ benefits, and had trouble finding other work because of government bans on employing them.

    Overall, up to 20% of the sailors in the RNZN were involved in the mutinies. The resulting manpower shortage forced the RNZN to remove Black Prince, one of their most powerful warships, from service, and set the navy’s development and expansion back by a decade.

  7. Jim D says:

    There appears to be a bit of confusion over the term NZ Defence Forces.
    The NZDF came into existence under the Defence Act 1990. Under previous legislation, the three Armed Services were part of the Ministry of Defence.

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