Today, The Berry Boys: Naming the Kiwi faces of World War I opened at Te Papa on level 4. Part of this intimate exhibition explains how we have used uniform badges to help us identify some of the soldiers photographed by Berry & Co.
But some of the portraits in the collection show us that the wearing of these military items was not restricted to servicemen. In fact, female sitters in four of the photos of unidentified groups sport brooches made from either uniform buttons or badges.
The Brown group
The fur-clad woman (above) sitting next to soldier Brown has a generic NZEF badge pinned to her coat. It matches the collar badges of her soldier companion: perhaps this was a farewell gift received from her sweetheart she is seated next to?
The New Zealand Military Corps brooch on the bodice of the girl in the Henderson group (above) is the same as those on the collar of the man standing next to her, who could just be her father.
The Bolton couple
Above, Private Bolton’s companion wears a uniform button as a brooch on her blouse. (His collar badges are of the 1st Battalion, Wellington Rifles.) Are they sweethearts or siblings?The Banks group
In this last portrait, the woman standing next to Private Banks – perhaps his sister – wears at her throat a Reinforcement badge – but alas it is too blurred to read and we can not tell which one exactly. The older woman in the group wears a more elaborate brooch with a military-motif – one that that was probably purchased from a manufacturing jeweller.
Browse Collections Online to see other examples of World War I military badges and insignia in Te Papa’s collection.
Read a recent blog about the Boys identification project so far