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Object: Portrait of William James Leonard Bowker

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Title Portrait of William James Leonard Bowker
Production Berry, William (photography studio), 1918-1919, 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.045962

Portrait of  Private William James Leonard Bowker, service number 148, New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.

Born on 8 April 1901 in Sydney, William Bowker was  16 years and 10 months old when he enlisted as a Cadet in the Ordnance Corps on 8 February 1918.  Small wonder, then, that he seems almost drowned in his cap and greatcoat. At the time, he was working as a clerk at the N. Z. Clothing Company in Cuba Street, near the Berry studio.

Classified at his medical inspection as 'Probably Fit', William was assigned to Home Service with the Ordnance Corps.  He worked as a clerk and storeman in Wellington until he was discharged at his own request from the Ordnance Corps on 24 June 1919. He lived in Auckland for a time,  then re-enlisted, this time in the Artillery at Wellington,  on 26 November, with a new service number, 1458.  Early in 1920 he was serving in Fiji, with a small force sent to help the British colonial authorities quell a sugarcane workers' strike. His service was curtailed by  mosquitos - a doctor's note on his file dated 24 April 1920 records that he was suffering from sore feet 'resulting from septic mosquito bites aggravated by playing football.'  William returned to Wellington and discharged himself 'By Purchase' from the Artillery on 10 May 1920.  Three days later, he enlisted yet again, as a Private in the Medical Corps, this time with the service number 770.  

William married Florence Iris Indegreen in 1926.  In May 1940, he attested again for service in the Artillery, listing his current employment as an insurance superintendent for the New Brighton Borough Council, Christchurch.   His Second World War service was to be in New Zealand, which would be appreciated by his family as he was now the father of two children.  Posted to the 18th Heavy Battery, William was stationed  at Battery Point on the northern shore of Lyttleton Harbour, where his unit manned a pair of 4-inch naval guns. Enemy ships did operate in our coastal waters, an example near Lyttleton being the laying of mines off Godley Head by a German raider on 25 June 1941.

William Bowker was discharged from the Artillery in September 1941.  He died in 1976.



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