Kiwi Faces of World War I – Anzac Day update. We have reached over 60 identifications!

To mark Anzac Day tomorrow, here is an update on our ‘Kiwi Faces of World War I’ soldier identficiation project.

We now identified more than 60 men out of the 110 World War One soldiers who were photographed by the Wellington photography studio Berry & Co.

Most of these identifications have been based on detective work using military personnel files, historical newspapers, and genealogical sources such as births, deaths, and marriages data. Lately we’ve been very grateful for the help received from Allan Dodson.

Burch 12/10, circa 1920, Wellington. Berry & Co. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa

Burch 12/10, circa 1920, Wellington. Berry & Co. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa

Allan has been trying to confirm the identity of the soldier (above and below) whose name is recorded as ‘Burch’ on two glass plate negatives. Our dilemma is that there were 12 men with the surname Burch who served in the NZEF:

Our two most likely contenders are James Burch, and George Robert Burch – with George Robert, a 37-year-old Master Plumber from Wellington, the more likely.

Burch 12 12/10, circa 1920, Wellington. Berry & Co. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa

Burch 12 12/10, circa 1920, Wellington. Berry & Co. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa

The criteria we have used to get to this shortlist of two are:

  • the collar and hat badge, which indicate service in the 34th Reinforcements onward but not with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, which had its own badge
  • the absence of any rank on the uniform, which indicates that at the time of the photo ‘Burch’ would have been a private
  • an indication that ‘Burch’ is a more mature man in his late twenties to early thirties
  • and an indication that he has light hair and possibly blue eyes

Te Papa would like to hear from anyone who can help us confirm that this is George Robert Burch’s portrait. Contact details are on Te Papa’s Collections Online database and on our ‘Kiwi Faces of World War I’ Flickr site.  We’d also like to know if their are photographs of the other Burch men, as these will help us to definitely eliminate them from the running.

Read about the start of our WWI soldier identification project on Te Papa’s blog.

5 Responses

  1. chrisi winstone

    i have a medal from the great war for civilisation 1914-1919. it belonged to fallen soldier patrick joseph griffen 18654 rflm in the n.z.e.f and i would dearly like to return this to his family. thank you

    Reply
    • Kirstie Ross

      Thanks for your response and this information.

      Rifleman Patrick Griffen was a farmer from Makauri, Gisborne, who went overseas with the 9th Reinforcements in July 1916. He was killed in action in France on 6 January 1918.

      If your local library has a family history section, then it will be able to help you trace his descendents.

      Another good place to get started is the Births, Deaths and Marriages database which is online and Archives New Zealand.

      Good luck with your quest. Kirstie

  2. Adele

    re BASIL BURCH. at PAPAWAI. I happen to know one of the extended family I shall ask her about Basil for you, see if she has a photograph..

    Reply
    • Kirstie Ross

      Thanks very much – that would definitely be helpful.

      Kirstie

    • Kara Oosterman

      Basil Leonard BURCH, #22595, has been incorrectly identified on the Cenotaph Database as the son of Annie Maria & Charles John Birch – their son Basil was born 22 Nov 1888, (registered 1889). He appears on the Second Reserves list, a farrier, last address Winter St, Mangapapa, Class ‘C’ (married with two children).

      Basil Leonard Burch was the son of Alice & Basil, of Papawai, Greytown, and born 25 Apr 1895 – probably too young to be the subject.

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