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Object: Portrait of William Henry Bates

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Title Portrait of William Henry Bates
Production Berry, William, 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.045014

William Henry Bates,  service number 3/1368

William Henry Bates was 26 years old when he enlisted  for military service at Trentham on 7 September  1915. He stated his occupation as 'Draper's Assistant' and was working for the Defence Department at Awapuni Camp, near Palmerston North. His parents lived in Eastbourne, England.

William joined a Field Ambulance unit of the New Zealand Medical Corps and trained at the Awapuni Camp in Palmerston North. While the camps at Trentham and Featherston were established to convert 'citizens into fighting men', the Awapuni Camp was for the 'efficient training of men who have chosen for their "little bit" in the war the care and succour of comrades' - that is, the Medical Corps. At Awapuni the recruits were taught everything from squad and camp drill to clerical work, inlcuding how to inventory the possessions of the wounded, as well as the techniques of first aid during warfare.

William embarked for Alexandria on the  Hospital Ship  'Marama' on 4 December 1915. The hospital ships 'Marama' and 'Maheno', acquired by the New Zealand Government and equipped by public donations, made several voyages between 1915 and 1919,  primarily to ferry the wounded from the Western Front and Mediterranean-Aegean theatre to hospitals in England or Egypt.  William returned to New Zealand in November 1916.  On 30 November he was granted leave without pay until 20 August 1917, and a note on his file records that during this period 'he was not performing any military duties.' 

On 8 December 1917 he was discharged  as  'no longer physically fit for war-service due to a 'pre-enlistment disability' that was aggravated by active service.'   His 'disability' was recorded in the report of a Medical Board which examined him on 5 December as 'Hypochondriasis',  an anxiety disorder about one's health.   At the time of his discharge he was a patient at Waikato Sanatorium, near Cambridge.

William's health worries would appear to have been misplaced, for he lived a long life.  After the war he moved to Whanganui, where he died in 1975.

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