Object: Portrait of Private Cecil Charles Baker and his bride Hannah Irene Baker
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|Title||Portrait of Private Cecil Charles Baker and his bride Hannah Irene Baker|
Berry, William (photography studio), 22 July 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|
Cecil Charles Baker, service number 6/2532
This poignant image was taken on the wedding day of of Cecil and Hannah Baker. Cecil had almost finished his military training,when he married Hannah Harvey at the Kent Terrace Presbyterian Church in Wellington on 22 July 1915 and a few weeks later was to leave New Zealand with the 6th Reinforcements.
Cecil should never have been accepted for military service. He had been working as a bushman near Collingwood, and enlisted on 17 April 1915. But he was rejected as 'fit for war service' because the large toe of his right foot had been amputated when he was about 13 or 14 years old - he had been riding a bicycle bare-foot and his foot was caught in the sprocket wheel. This created a fundamental difficulty for him as a soldier - he was unable to march long distances. However, after 'repeated rejections', he was eventually accepted as fit for war service in August 1915 without an inspection of his feet.
The Army found useful employment for him as a cook, and he spent seven weeks with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion on Gallipoli prior to the evacuation to Egypt. He was in hospitals there for much of early 1916, suffering from Gastritis, Catarrh and Jaundice. He briefly rejoined his unit in mid-February, then was re-admitted to hospital with a 'painful inflammation' of the stump of his amputated toe. The remainder of his military career was spent as a cook at New Zealand military hospitals in England, except for two periods in July-August of 1917 and 1918 when he was granted 'agricultural leave' to help with the harvest on nearby farms.
In February 1918, a Medical Board recommended that he be discharged from the NZEF as 'Permanently Unfit for War Service, Fit for Base Duties' and he was eventually discharged from military service in New Zealand on 18 April 1919.
Sadly, he and Hannah divorced in 1927, in Westport, where Cecil continued to live until his death in 1965. Hannah's date of death is unknown.
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