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.
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?
B: Bailey, Banks, Barber, Blyth, Bolton, Bowker, Briggs, Brookes, Brown, Burch
C: Callum, Chiss, Colville, Cotter, Cotton, Cummins
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
P: Parks, Parks Gunner, Porter, Potter, Purves or Purvis
R: Rawlins, Rivers, Roberts
S: Scott, Smith (Smith FA), Stevens, Sturmer
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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!
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.