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Object: Portrait of an unidentified soldier [inscribed Oliver]

This image has No Known Copyright Restrictions.

Title Portrait of an unidentified soldier [inscribed Oliver]
Production Berry & Co (photography studio), 1914-1915, Wellington
Materials photographic gelatin, sheet glass, silver, photographic plates
Classification studio portraits, portraits, black-and-white negatives, gelatin dry plate negatives
Format half plate (1/2)
Credit line Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds
Registration number B.044928

Head and shoulders portrait of a young man in a Private's uniform.

The Berry studio’s register number 12725 tells us that the young man shown here sat for his portrait some time in 1914 or 1915.  The style of cap he is wearing, his brand-new tunic and the lack of any identifying unit insignia suggest also that the photograph was taken in the first weeks or even days of the war. 


We are not yet sure of the man’s identity, but there are at least three  possibilities among men with the surname ‘Oliver’ who enlisted very early in the war and whose descriptions on their service files resemble the features of the man in the photograph.


One of these men is William Henry Oliver, service number 10/493, who enlisted at Feilding on 15 August 1915. He was 24 years old, and described as having brown hair, blue eyes and a ‘medium’ complexion.  He embarked with the Main Body on 16 October 1915, survived Gallipoli and eventually returned to Feilding in 1919.


Another possibility is that the man is Arthur Scott Oliver, service number 8/2458.  Arthur was 22 years old and living in Wellington city  when he enlisted on 1 May 1915.  He was described as having brown hair, blue eyes and a ‘fair’ complexion.  Arthur embarked with the  5th Reinforcements on 13 June.  He also survived Gallipoli, but was killed in action near Ypres in Belgium on 24 November 1917 while serving with the Machine Gun Corps.


A third possible identification is that he is George Oliver, service number 10/1941. George was born in Queensland and was  26 years old, and had been employed in a freezing works at Oamaru when he enlisted at Trentham Camp  on 5 January 1915. George also survived Gallipoli, but was  twice wounded in action on the Western  Front.  He returned to New Zealand and was discharged from the NZEF in March 1919.

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.