Gerald Gower (left) and Alfred Featherston Gower (right) are the two brothers who grace rather strikingly the cover of Berry Boys: Portraits of First World War Soldiers and Families by Michael Fitzgerald and Claire Regnault. The studio paraphernalia you see in the image above would have been cropped out in prints made from the original glass plate negative, as it has been for the book cover. Gerald and Alfred also posed with a bench, one of Berry & Co’s’ standard props (below).
Both men had individual portraits taken at the studio.
Five photographs in total were taken in 1917 at the Berry & Co studio while the pair were training with the 28th Reinforcements, which left Wellington in July that year.
However, Alfred (above and below) had already been overseas with the NZEF and returned again when these photographs taken. The younger of the two brothers, Alfred had originally enlisted in the army exactly 100 years ago today, on 18 August, and sailed with the Main Body on 16 October. At the time, Alfred was 23 years old and farming in Omoana in Taranaki.
However, Alfred’s first stint in the army was cut short by a strained groin. This was bad enough for him to be hospitalised in April and then sent back home on the Willochra in July. Alfred was discharged as medically unfit on 17 August 1915, 365 days after he first signed up, but he was back to full health by 1917, when he again volunteered for active service.
This is part of a month-long series of blogs commenting on the start of World War I in August 1914.
- Read more about Te Press’s new Berry Boys book
- Read other blogs in this series: (1) Commemorating WW1: New Zealand Post’s five-year stamp and coin programme; (2) Wed Aug 5: what war?; (3) Berry Boys: First in, first served; (4) Girl Peace Scouts: a prophylactic against hoydenish romps; and (5) Limbless, but jobless or hopeless.