The ‘Berry Boys’ WWI soldier identification project: the story so far

B.046035. Portrait of an unidentified World War I soldier photographed by Berry & Co., Wellington, 1914-1918

B.046035. Portrait of an unidentified World War I soldier photographed by Berry & Co., Wellington, 1914-1918

The Berry Boys soldier identification project has progressed leaps and bounds since 2008, when a group of portraits of unidentified World War I soldiers first featured on Te Papa’s website to mark the 90th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice.

Getting the ball rolling

We were able to inaugurate the detective work required to find out who these men were in 2011, when Kiera Gould, a Museum Studies student from the Leicester University, was an intern at Te Papa.

Kiera began researching the ‘Berry Boys’ by looking closely at the images, military records and historic newspapers. This project was inspired by one implemented by Auckland City Libraries to name World War I soldiers in its collection, photographed by Herman Schmidt.

Success!

From having very few clues about who was who, two and a half years later we now know the identities of around 80 men. A real boost to the project came last year after TVNZ and a television production company became interested in our quest. Positive connections between descendants and 12 of the soldiers have since been made.

Help us name the remaining 30 men

But we hope to identify the 30, still unidentified men (including the soldier above). Check out Te Papa’s Facebook page this month where every day we will feature one of these ‘Berry Boys’.

If you recognise anyone, let us know. Contact details are on the Berry Boys website.

And if you have a chance, visit the Berry Boys: Kiwi Faces of World War I display on level 4 at Te Papa, which runs from Easter until the end of June this year.

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