Object: Portrait of William John Main and an unidentified woman
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|Title||Portrait of William John Main and an unidentified woman|
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 William John Main, service number 42762, and an unidentified woman.
The soldier in this portrait was identified by his daughter as William John Main. The woman is still unidentified, she looks too young to be his mother, Helen Main who died in 1934 aged 78 and would have been 61 when the photograph was taken.
William was born in Helensville in 1895. When he attested for military service on 1 November 1916 he was living in Wellington and working for New Zealand Railways as a Cadet. He was single, and named Helen who lived in Remuera, Auckland, as his next of kin.
William entered training camp on 3 January 1917 and was posted to the Signals Section of the 25th Reinforcements' Specialist Company; his Railways experience would have made him familiar with telegraph and telephone equipment.
He embarked from Wellington on 26 April 1917 and marched into Sling Camp in England on 20 July. He immediately joined the Canterbury Company's 4th Reserve Battalion but was transferred to the Otago Regiment's 4th Reserve Battalion on 5 September. William qualified as a 'First Class Signaller' on 22 November. He was sent to France on 11 January 1918 where he was transferred to the 1st Battalion Auckland Infantry Regiment on 17 February.
On 3 April William was admitted to hospital suffering from 'P.U.O.' (Pyrexia of Unknown Origin), and acronym often used for 'Trench Fever' or some other unspecific or as yet undiagnosed fever. For the rest of 1918, William was to spend considerable time in hospital and rest camp convalescing from 'P.U.O.' and diarrohea. On 23 June he was transferred to No. 1 Entrenching Battalion, then to the 2nd Battalion Auckland Infantry Regiment on 27 August but was admitted to hospital in France again on 5 September with diarrohea. He was evacuated to Brockenhurst Hospital in England on 27 September with severe diarrohea, discharged on 5 November and sent to the New Zealand Convalescent Depot at Torquay. He embarked for New Zealand on 2 December where he was discharged from the NZEF on 6 February 1919.
William married Grace Victoria Cobb in 1922 and died at Wellington on 25 July 1947, aged 52.
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.
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 email@example.com 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.
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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.