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Object: Portrait of Herbert, William and Frederick Costello

This image has No Known Copyright Restrictions.

Title Portrait of Herbert, William and Frederick Costello
Production Berry & Co (photography studio), 1915-Feb 1916, Wellington
Medium summary black and white glass negative
Materials photographic gelatin, silver, sheet glass, photographic plates
Classification black-and-white negatives, gelatin dry plate negatives, portraits
Technique black-and-white photography
Format half plate (1/2)
Credit line Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds
Registration number B.045248

Herbert Costello, serial number 6/4596

William Costello

Frederick Costello, serial number 26/741

This studio portrait depicts the Costello brothers (from left to right) Herbert, William and Frederick.

Herbert Lenton Costello, the youngest of the brothers, was born in 1882.He was 32 years old when he enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Prior to this he was self-employed as a bushman. He became a Private in the Canterbury Infantry Regiment and went to train at the Trentham Camp in December 1915. His service record shows that he wasn't keen on obeying all the rules. In March 1916 he was punished for overstaying his leave, then later in France he again overstayed his leave and a third time in Marseilles he was punished for being absent without leave. Each time he was deducted eight days pay.

Herbert was wounded on the 12 October 1917 during the Battle of Passchendaele. His left forearm was hit by machine-gun fire. He was sent to the New Zealand General Hospital No. 1 for six days and then to Hornchurch Hospital on 17 October. Eventually he was sent home, unfit for service, on the Maunganui in March 1918. Herbert lived for the rest of his life in Wellington and died in 1950.

Seated in the middle of this portrait is William Costello, he provided a home-base and was recorded as the next-of-kin for both his brothers prior to their departure for war. Tragically their father Matthew Costello had died in a boat accident on 26 May 1885 when the brothers were children.Their mother, Mildred Lenton, originally from Lincolnshire England, was left with five children to support aged 2 months to 12 years. When Mildred died of cancer in 1894, William aged 19 years took on the responsibility of providing for his siblings.

In 1898 William married Phoebe Olive Wilton, the youngest daughter of Elijah and Priscilla Wilton. The Wilton family were responsible for the donation of Wilton's Bush to the city of Wellington. William and Phoebe had ten children and lived in Douro Avenue in Newton, Wellington. Phoebe died in September 1940, and William passed away in Wanganui in 1943. They are buried in the same unmarked grave in Karori Cemetery.

The third brother in this picture is Frederick Lawrence Costello. He was born in 1875 and was 37 when he enlisted in 1915.He used a false birth date 23 July 1880 to ensure he was not too old to be sent away on active service. Frederick had been working as a tailor for a Mr Hackett in Te Kuiti in the Waikato region prior to the war. He was assigned to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade with the 4th Battalion and he embarked from Wellington in February 1916 on the Mokoia. After training in Suez he went to France in April 1916 where he served on the front for the entirety of the war. At the end of the conflict he sailed from Liverpool on the Northumberland arriving home to be officially discharged on the 28 March 1919. Frederick went to live in Napier where he died, on 4 May 1942.

Fredericks's uniform provided significant clues as to the identification of the Costello brothers in the photo. The collar and hat badges of the lion holding a pennant are consistent with theNew Zealand Rifle Brigade, but the confirming item was the black triangle on the cap. Early formations of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade used a blaze of black cloth in various shapes as a way of distinguishing each battalion; it was the 4th Battalion that wore a triangle with the point downwards.

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.