Object: Portrait of Alfred Featherston Gower
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|Title||Portrait of Alfred Featherston 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 Alfred Featherston Gower, service number 11/479, New Zealand Rifle Brigade
New Zealand entered the war on 5 August 1914 and Alfred Featherston Gower, aged 23 and farming at Omoana in Taranaki was quick to volunteer. He enlisted as a Trooper in the Wellington Mounted Rifles on 18 August and trained with them until sailing with the Main Body for overseas service on 16 October. The Wellington Mounted trained in Egypt with other New Zealand and Australian mounted units but Alfred's time there was to be short. On 17 April he was admitted to hospital with a strained groin. The injury was severe enough for him to be invalided back to New Zealand and on 17 August 1915 he was discharged from the Army as 'medically unfit for active service'.
Alfred returned to his farm but again volunteered for service in 1917, this time with his older brother Gerald. Alfred entered Trentham camp on 30 May 1917 as Private Gower of 'G' Company, 28th Reinforcements. During their training the brothers' grandmother died in Palmerston North. They attended the funeral but were late returning to camp and were punished with the loss of one day's pay for this, and in Alfred's case, for being found in a hotel while on active service. However, this escapade did not prevent Alfred's promotion to Lance-Corporal on 25 July 1917.
Alfred arrived at Sling Camp in England on 24 September and was sent on to the Rifle Brigade's camp at Brocton on 3 October, where he joined 'D' Company of the Brigade's 6th Reserve Battalion. Alfred was sent to the front on 23 October where he joined 'C' Company of the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade's 1st Battalion.
On 19 June 1918, Alfred was injured when a grenade exploded 'under his nose'. His service record notes that he 'was not to blame' for the accident and after treatment at a Field Ambulance Alfred rejoined his unit on 6 July. He was wounded again on 24 August with a gun shot wound to his left hand. Alfred was evacuated to England and admitted to the New Zealand hospital at Walton-on-Thames.
Alfred's war was over. He embarked for New Zealand on 8 January 1919, where he was discharged from the NZEF on 21 March.
Alfred returned to farming and married Mabel Maud Mason in 1920. He died in New Plymouth in 1976.
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