Farewell Berry Boys, George, Roy, Frank, and Alfred

Portrait of George Gordon Campbell Hornig, 1912, Wellington. Berry & Co. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa

Portrait of George Gordon Campbell Hornig, 1912, Wellington. Berry & Co. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa

Four of Te Papa’s ‘Berry Boys’ were amongst the 8500 men who left with the Main Body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 16 October 1914. These men, in their fresh uniforms, were draper George Hornig (above, in a photo taken in 1912), cabinetmaker Roy Houchen, and Frank Barber, from Wellington, plus Alfred Gower, a farmer from Taranaki. All four men survived the war, and you can read some of their stories in Te Papa’s Press’s Berry Boys: Portraits of First World War Soldiers and Families by Michael Fitzgerald and Claire Regnault.

[View of Wellington Harbour with Japanese and New Zealand troopships in harbour], October 1914, New Zealand. Photographed by John Haines. Te Papa

[View of Wellington Harbour with Japanese and New Zealand troopships in harbour], October 1914, New Zealand. Photographed by John Haines. Te Papa

The Main Body left in a convoy of 10 troopships, which also carried nearly 4000 horses. This was the largest departure from Wellington harbour. As the photo above suggests, the ships and their naval escorts anchored in the harbour dominated the view.

The troops had marched through town down to the wharves prior to their departure. The reality of separation set in once men had boarded the ships and lifted anchor. Alfred Morton, on the Maunganui, observed:

‘small groups of people on the various hills near the entrance [of the harbour], waiting to see us steam out and get a last glimpse of the “great grey fleet”. We kept on deck and watched the last views of Wellington in sight until we turned into Cook Straits  [sic] and they faded into the distance.’ (AB Moreton diary, MS-Papers-1310-2, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.)

Berry Boys exhibition on level 4 April-October 2014

Berry Boys exhibition on level 4 April-October 2014

We are also saying farewell, tomorrow, to the Berry Boys exhibition on level four at Te Papa. But like the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who served overseas in the war, the Berry Boys – those we have identified with your help and the 18 men still unknown to us – won’t be forgotten.

4 Responses

  1. Sue Osborne

    Can I find out if there are any photos of my Great uncles William Elliott Robertson
    James McLachlan Robertson or Hugh Robertson all from Ribble st Oamaru whose
    Parents were Francis and Jane Robertson who served from 1916 to 1919 Please
    I know one of them had an official photo taken …Thanks Sue O

    Reply
    • Kirstie Ross

      Hi Sue
      Thanks for contacting us.

      If you search our Collections Online database on the Te Papa website using the search terms ‘unidentified soldier Berry’ you will get the images of the men we are yet to identify. If you recognise anyone, please let us know.

      Another place to search is Heritage Images Online, the photo database for Auckland City Libraries’ photograph collection.

      all the best
      Kirstie Ross, History curator

  2. Wayne Brewer

    I am searching for a photograph of my Grandfather Frederick Horatio Palmer # 10/494,in uniform, who departed from Wellington for Gallipoli with the Main Body October 1914 which I would like to take to the Centennial Service at Gallipoli next month.If anyone can assist in this task it would be most appreciated.Wayne Brewer.

    Reply
  3. Phillip

    interesting article.

    may I ask why the Japanese were in the harbour? were they allies?

    thanks

    Reply

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