The Berry Boys – help us identify our unknown soldiers and their families

Last night was a great night for us as Pete Cronshaw of  TV One’s Sunday programme dedicated a full half hour to Te Papa’s ‘Berry Boys’ identification project.  If you missed the programme, or would like to view it again you can watch it here online.

As Pete Cronshaw explained, Te Papa’s History Team have been working on identifying the sitters of a number portraits taken by William Berry during the First World War.  The portraits feature smartly dressed soldiers, and were taken before they left New Zealand to fight. A number of them, like the one below, are photographed with their loved ones.

Can you identify this soldier and his loved ones? The glass plate is inscribed with the name Henderson, and his uniform tells us he was a Private in the New Zealand Army Medical Corps.

The photographs and the life stories of their sitters, are to be the subject of a documentary by the Production Shed for TVNZ.

Our team, with some wonderful assistance from the public, have identified about three quarters of soldiers to date. We hope you can help Te Papa and the Production Shed team identify the remaining men and their families.

Our primary clue to the soldiers identity is a surname scratched onto the negative – the surname could relate to the sitter or the commissioner. Below are the surnames inscribed on the plates of the soldiers yet to be identified. Is your family name there?

A: Armes

B: Bailey, Banks, Barber,  Blyth, Bolton, Bowker, Briggs, Brookes, Brown, Burch

C: Callum, Chiss, Colville, Cotter, Cotton, Cummins

F: Falkner

G: Gordon, Graham, Green, Gunner

H: Hallam, Hamilton, Harris, Hart, Hearn, Henderson, Howard, Howe, Howell

J: James, Johnson

M: Main, Managh, Manders, Mason, Matheson, Merilla, Mitchell, Morgan, Murray

O: Oliver

P: Parks, Parks Gunner, Porter, Potter, Purves or Purvis

R: Rawlins, Rivers, Roberts

S: Scott, Smith (Smith FA), Stevens, Sturmer

T: Turnull

W: Walker, Watt, Webb, Williams

If your family name is on the list, and you want to investigate more, click here and you’ll be taken straight to the images. Click on ‘Unidentified’ and you’ll see all the soldiers and families that we are still trying to identify.  As you move your mouse over each image, the inscribed surname will pop up. Alternatively, simply type in the surname you are interested in along with ‘soldier’ in the search box and the relevant image should pop up.

If you have any information you can share about the Berry Boys – either a soldier or someone they are photographed with – please email berryboys@tepapa.govt.nz, or leave a phone message for us on 04 381 7129. You can also write to Berry Boys Project Team, Te Papa, PO Box 467, Wellington 6140.

We’re interested in names, stories, tiny snippets of information – anything that helps us know more about these people’s lives before, during, and after the war.

To aid identification, please be sure to include the Te Papa registration number (B.044366, for example) for the photo in question.

 Most of all, thank you for your help!

Portrait of Private Cecil Charles Baker and his bride Hannah Irene Harvey, 22 July 1915. Berry & Co. Te Papa.

This is one of the portraits we have been able to identify. It is of Private Cecil Charles Baker and his bride Hannah Irene Harvey and was taken on the day of their wedding. Cecil had almost finished his military training when he married Hannah Harvey at the Kent Terrace Presbyterian Church in Wellington on 22 July 1915. A few weeks later he left New Zealand with the 6th Reinforcements. Read the rest of Cecil’s story here.

4 Responses

  1. Claire Regnault

    Thank you Jock. We were thrilled with the piece, and continue to be thrilled with the amazing response to the story.

    Reply
  2. Christine Johnson

    Watched the program me on forgotten faces and noticed the name Brookes. My mother-in-law had a brother named Lisle Brooks. Not sure about the spelling of the surname, (e or no e) in Brooks. His father was Mark Brooks. think they lived in Karori.

    Can you make anything of this?

    Reply
    • Claire Regnault

      Thank you Christine – the team will investigate and get back to you by email. We’ve had a great response to the Sunday programme, and have quite a few emails and phone calls to work through, so don’t dispair if it takes us a bit of time to get back to you!

  3. Jock Phillips

    Congratulations Te Papa. That was a powerful and beautifully told story last night. It really brought home the awful tragedy of the great war. Good luck with your search.

    Reply

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