Object: Portrait of Gerald Gower
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|Title||Portrait of Gerald Gower|
Berry & Co (photography studio), 1917, 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|
Portrait of Rifleman Gerald Gower, service number 55949.
Gerald was one of three brothers, all farmers, who served in the Army during the War. He was 27 years old and living at Petone when he voluntarily attested on 1 March 1917. He trained with the 28th Reinforcements at the same time as his brother Alfred and like him, was charged with being late returning to camp from their grandmother's funeral.
Gerald embarked from Wellington for overseas service on 26 July 1917. He marched into Sling Camp on 24 September and was sent on to the Rifle Brigade's training camp at Brocton on 3 October. On 1 November he was admitted to the 3rd New Zealand Hospital at Codford to be treated for venereal disease. He stayed there for a month, but was back at Codford on 31 December suffering this time from measles. He returned to Brocton on 11 February 1918, where he qualified as a marksman on 6 March. Gerald was sent to France on 20 March and joined 'D' Company of the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade's 2nd Battalion. He was quickly involved in heavy fighting as the Germans advanced during their spring offensive. This German attempt to win the war failed and the Allies began to drive the German forces back. By August 1918 Gerald's unit was fighting in the Bapaume battle, and he received a gun shot wound to his right thigh on 26 August. He was evacuated from the battlefield to hospital and did not return to the fighting. After discharge from hospital Gerald was posted to No. 2 New Zealand (Area) Employment Company. Employment companies put non-combatant men into a range of temporary roles, such as traffic contolr, salvage and constrruction work, and guard duty.
Gerald embarked for the return voyage to New Zealand on 3 March 1919. He was discharged from the NZEF on 15 December 1919, and graded as 'no longer physically fit for war service' due to arthritis.
Gerald returned to farming, initially at Kohuratahi, inland from Stratford, and later near Te Awamutu. He married Emma Doris Lee in 1923, and died at Hamilton on 25 February 1972.
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