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Object: Copy of a portrait of John Jessen

This image has No Known Copyright Restrictions.

Title Copy of a portrait of John Jessen
Production Berry & Co (copyist), 1916-1919, Wellington
Medium summary black and white glass negative
Materials photographic gelatin, sheet glass, silver, photographic plates
Classification studio portraits, portraits, black-and-white negatives, gelatin dry plate negatives
Technique black-and-white photography
Format half plate (1/2)
Credit line Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds
Registration number B.044319

John Jessen, service number 2/1

This is a copy by the Berry studio of an original photograph of Sergeant-Major John Jessen, of the New Zealand Field Artillery.

John Jessen was born in Mauriceville to William August and Christine Jessen in the same year as their marriage, 1890. The family had moved to Wellington by 1908, when John joined the D Battery of the New Zealand Field Artillery Volunteers. By 1914 he was the unit's Battery Sergeant-Major.

On 8 August 1914 he attested for service with the Samoan Advance Party which departed from Wellington bound for Apia  on 15 August. Returning from Samoa on the 22nd March 1915 he was discharged on his own request and returned to his job as a clerk in the New Zealand Railways. 

At the end of 1915 John Jessen was among a number of non-commissioned officers called up to join the 14th reinforcements for the Western Front. He was killed in action in France on the 24th August 1918, aged 28. 

His brother Donald Jessen also served as a Gunner in the New Zealand Field Artillery and died of illness the following year. Both soldiers were commemorated by their parents in advertisements placed in the Evening Post.

I know who this is

The Berry Boys
During World War I, around 120 Kiwi soldiers had their photograph taken at Wellington’s Berry & Co photography studio before they left New Zealand to fight in the war . These portraits are now in Te Papa’s collection.

In the lead-up to the World War I centenary (2014-18), Te Papa is working to identify these soldiers and the loved ones they are pictured with. We want to make contact with their descendants, and to record their stories.

Some soldiers have already been identified. For others, we only have the surname etched on the glass negative.

Contact us
If you have any information you can share about the Berry Boys - either a soldier or someone they are photographed with - please use the online form above. You can also email berryboys@tepapa.govt.nz 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.

To aid identification, please be sure to include the Te Papa registration number (B.044366, for example) for the photo in question.

Related information

Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.