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Object: Portrait of Cecil Theobald Coate

This image has No Known Copyright Restrictions.

Title Portrait of Cecil Theobald Coate
Production 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
Registration number B.046296

Cecil Theobald Coate, service number 44447

This is a portrait of Private Cecil Theobald Coate, service number 44447, of the 24th Reinforcements, NZEF.

Cecil was born in  Wellington on 15 December 1889.  As a young man he was a keen cricket and soccer player for the Karori clubs, and worked as a Clerk for the Wellington Harbour Board.  He married  Nora Maud Furness on 15 March 1916.

He had volunteered for military service in 1915, but was rejected for having Varicose Veins. In December 1916, after conscription was introduced, his name was drawn in the Second Ballot, and  he attested for service on 28 December.

 He was posted to train with the  25th Reinforcements on 8 January 1917.  On 2 February he was transferred to the  24th Reinforcements.  

Cecil sailed  from Wellington  on 5 April 1917. He underwent further training at Sling Camp in England with the 4th Reserve Battalion, Auckland-Wellington Regiment from 11 June to 6 July, when he was sent to France.  On 24 July  he joined the 7th Company of the 3rd Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment.

On 4 October, during the Battalion's attack on Gravenstafel, Cecil was hit in his face by an enemy bullet. He was admitted the same day to No. 3 NZ Field Ambulance, then to No. 3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station and on 5 October he was sent far behind the lines to hospital at Le Treport, on the French coast.   Cecil was very lucky, although a medical report noted in March 1918 that the wound had caused him 'periodic attacks of frontal neuralgia.' 

On 23 December Cecil was posted to the 3rd Reserve Battalion of the Wellington Infantry Regiment and except for one week's leave in September, served with them until he embarked for New Zealand on 7 February 1919.

 On the 23 April 1919 he was  discharged from service as 'No longer Physically fit for War service on account of Wounds received in action.'

Cecil  lived in Wellington for the rest of his life where continued to work for the Harbour Board.  He died on the 14 November 1950 aged 60.

I know who this is

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.

Contact us
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 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.

Related information

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.