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Object: Portrait of Corporal Charles Hart, New Zealand Provost Corps.

This image has No Known Copyright Restrictions.

Title Portrait of Corporal Charles Hart, New Zealand Provost Corps.
Production Berry, William (copyist), 1917-1918, 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.044615

Portrait of Corporal Charles Hart, New Zealand Provost Corps.

The Corporal depicted in this portrait appears from the white lanyard on his jacket and the service revolver he is equipped with to be a member of the New Zealand Provost Corps. Also, the colour of the puggaree on his 'lemon squeezer' hat appears to be uniform, possibly blue, which was the colour assigned to the Provost Corps.

The Provost Corps was responsible for enforcing discipline and investigating criminal behaviour among troops on active service;  its present-day successor is the Corps of Royal New Zealand Military Police.

The negative of this photograph, which was copied by the Berry studio from an original by an unknown photographer, is inscribed with the name 'Hart'.

With these clues, the most likely identification of the sitter from all the men surnamed 'Hart' who served with the New Zealand Army during the First World War is Charles Hart, service number 10/986.

Charles was born in England in 1886. He served in the British Army, and married Louisa Meyer in 1908.  The Harts must have emigrated to New Zealand some time between the birth of their second child, in England in  1910 and their second, in New Zealand, in 1913. 

They settled in Newtown, Wellington, where Charles worked as a driver.  On 13 August, 1914, Charles enlisted in the Wellington Infantry Battalion at Awapuni Camp and embarked with the Main Body on 14 October. Charles served at Gallipoli, and later in France, where he was attached to the New Zealand Division's Headquarters as a member of the Provost Corps and promoted Corporal on 26 May 1917. He was promoted Sergeant on 26 December 1918, so he must have sat for this portrait in a French or British studio some time between those dates.

In June 1919 Charles was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal  'in recognition of valuable services rendered in France and Flanders.'  We do not know the exact nature of his 'valuable services', but an example of the duties he performed comes to light in a report of a spectacular barroom brawl published in New Zealand newspapers in March 1919.

Three months previously, on 28 November, Charles was on duty at the George Hotel near Codford Camp in Wiltshire when some fourteen to eighteen New Zealand soldiers rioted and wrecked the hotel's bar. It was a serious disturbance by disaffected and drunken men shortly after the Armistice, and Charles was a prosecution witness at the trial at Devizes in January of six of the New Zealanders.

Charles returned to New Zealand on 25 December 1919, but he was not a well man. While overseas, he had suffered from pleurisy in 1916 and 'Trench Fever' in 1917. In July 1920 he was sent for treatment at the Military Sanatorium at Pukeora in Hawke's Bay. Sadly, however, the treatment cannot have had long-term success, as Charles was to die of pneumonia in 1928, aged only forty-two.  He is buried in the Soldiers' section of  Wellington's Karori Cemetery.


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 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.