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Object: Portrait of Thomas Henry Mossman, Esther Muriel Mossman and Marion Susan Mossman

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Title Portrait of Thomas Henry Mossman, Esther Muriel Mossman and Marion Susan Mossman
Production Berry, William (photography studio), 1914, Wellington
Materials photographic gelatin, silver, sheet glass, photographic plates
Classification black-and-white negatives, gelatin dry plate negatives, portraits
Technique black-and-white photography
Format half plate (1/2)
Credit line Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds
Registration number B.046707

The man in this portrait is Thomas Henry Mossman,  service number 9/728  and the women are his sister Esther Muriel Mossman (standing) and his stepmother Marion Susan Mossman.

Thomas Henry Mossman was a sheep-farmer from Waerenga-o-kuri,  near Gisborne.  When the First World War started, he was 27 years old, single, a well-known figure in his local community and  a member of the Gisborne Squadron of the Legion of Frontiersmen. The Legion had been founded in England in 1904 to provide a body of trained men who would be available to serve the British Empire should the need arise. The Legion was established in New Zealand in 1911, and Thomas Mossman joined in 1912.

Thomas was the first of four Mossman brothers to enlist for war service, on 21 October 1914. The Gisborne Frontiersmen had been selected to fill a shortfall of men in the 2nd Reinforcements of the Otago Mounted Rifles. They left for the training camp at Trentham on 24 October, and the local newspaper reported that 'the men will go into camp in the Legion's uniform.'  Thomas is wearing the Legion's uniform in this photograph, which must have been taken some time between his arrival in Wellington and his embarkation with the 2nd Reinforcements on 14 December.

The sitting in Berry's studio would have been one of the last times Thomas and his stepmother and sister were together. Thomas' military service was to be extremely short.  He landed in Egypt on 3 February 1915, but was to die of pneumonia in Cairo on 12 April 1915.

Tragedy again struck the Mossman family a few weeks later when Thomas' younger brother James Dilworth Mossman was killed in action on Gallipoli on 19 May. Two other brothers, William Bertram Mossman and Pynson Wilmott Mossman, survived the War.

Mossman descendants still live on the family property , 'The Laurels'  at Waerenga-o-Kuri.  Laurel leaves are an ancient symbol of remembrance, and every year, they pluck leaves for making the Gisborne region's Anzac Day wreaths from a hedge of laurel trees that was planted over 90 years ago in memory of Thomas and James.

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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.