Object: Portrait of Sergeant Frank Barber, MM, New Zealand Medical Corps.
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|Title||Portrait of Sergeant Frank Barber, MM, New Zealand Medical Corps.|
Berry, William (photography studio), April 1918, 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 Sergeant Frank Barber, MM, New Zealand Medical Corps.
On 6 December 1916 Wellington's 'Evening Post' newspaper published the names of members of the NZEF who had recently been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry on the battlefields.
The Military Medal had recently been established, on 25 March 1916, to be awarded to non-commissioned soldiers for bravery in battle on land.
One of the decorated soldiers was Private F. Barber, service number 3/160 of the New Zealand Army Medical Corps. He had sailed from Wellington as a member of the Ambulance section of the Main Body on 16 October 1914 and returned to New Zealand in May 1917. Frank's military service file is currently unavailable but we know from his medal citation that he saw active service at Gallipoli before going to the Western Front in 1916.
Front-line service in the Medical Corps was one of the most dangerous jobs in the Army. Stretcher-bearers in particular won the admiration of fighting troops, especially when they went out into 'no-man's land' to rescue wounded soldiers and bring them in for treatment. Frank won his medal for his gallantry during the battle of Chunuk Bair on Gallipoli on 7 and 8 August 1915, for bringing wounded men in under heavy enemy fire.
He returned to Wellington on 12 May 1917 on a ship carrying 517 other sick and wounded soldiers, but his homecoming was not a happy one. In his absence his wife had an affair with another man and a child had been born to them. Divorce proceedings began, and a Court hearing in June 1918 Frank's petition for the marriage to be dissolved on the grounds of his wife's misconduct was granted, and the other man was ordered to pay him 25 pounds' damages.
We know that Frank visited the Berry studio some time in April 1918 as the date 'April 18' in inscribed on the negative. Worry about the impending Court hearing may account for the rather preoccupied look on his face, but he was to marry again, to Dorothy Eveline Chant, in September. He and Dorothy lived in Island Bay, Wellington, and later in Inglewood, Taranaki. Frank died on 10 May 1968, and Evelyn on 3 Feb 1984. They are buried together in the Services section of Te Henui cemetery, New Plymouth.
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