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Object: Portrait of Corporal Herbert Henry Brooks, service number 10/735.

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Title Portrait of Corporal Herbert Henry Brooks, service number 10/735.
Production Berry, William (photography studio), 1915, 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.047241

Portrait of Corporal Herbert Henry Brooks, service number 10/735

Unlike almost all the soldiers photographed at the Berry studio, the young man shown here is not posing for his pre-embarkation portrait.

He is actually a recently returned veteran of four months' active service in the horrendous conditions of Gallipoli, and a survivor of the battle of Chunuk Bair, where most of his comrades in the Wellington Infantry Battalion were killed or wounded.

The Berry studio number 13799 dates the sitting to  some time in 1915. The man  is not showing any unit badges on his uniform, but the style of his jacket and cap and the buttons on his jacket are important clues.  Although he is wearing 'NZR' shoulder badges identifying him as a New Zealander, he is wearing a British Army  'Austerity Pattern' jacket with British Army 'General Service' buttons, and his cap also appears to be British Army issue.

These details suggest that the sitter has returned sick or wounded from overseas service, supplied while overseas with a new uniform from British stocks due a shortage of New Zealand ones.

The glass-plate negative of this portrait is clearly inscribed with the name of the sitter,  'Brooks H. Corpl'.  There are two New Zealand men named 'Brooks', with the initial  'H' who enlisted early in the war.

Neither was promoted to Corporal prior to embarkation from New Zealand, however Herbert Henry Brooks, service number 10/735 of the Wellington Infantry Battalion, was promoted Corporal on 1 June 1915, while serving on Gallipoli.  The other 'H. Brooks' who enlisted in 1914 never rose above the rank of Private.

Herbert enlisted at Awapuni Camp on 18 September 1914. He gave his occupation as "railway surfaceman",  based at Turangarere on the Main Trunk line near Taihape, although it appears that Herbert had also worked for the Post Office in Whanganui. He gave his next-of-kin as his mother living at Ohingaiti. Herbert's father, John Henry Brooks, was Headmaster of the Ohingaiti School, and had been a Volunteer soldier in England.

A report about Herbert's war experiences was published in the 'Wanganui Chronicle' newspaper of 20 October 1915:

'Amongst those who are returning invalided from Gallipoli is Corporal H.H. Brooks.  Brooks was for some years in the Wanganui Post Office, and was known among his friends as "Bert" or "Brookie."

He left New Zealand with the main body, and has been in almost every engagement on the peninsula, up to ands including the never to be forgotten battle of August 8th and 10th.

Curious to say, he has never been wounded, although his comrades were killed and wounded on every side of him. After the latter engagement [Chunuk Bair] his health and nerves gave way, and he was sent to the New Zealand Hospital at Cairo, where he was for some weeks previous to joining the Willochra on which boat he is returning home. Corporal Brooks enlisted as a private, but since he left New Zealand he has received two stripes and was obliged to decline a third [ promotion to Sergeant] owing to his health giving way. Corporal Brooks leaves two brothers behind at the front'.

This report agrees with the information on Herbert's service file that he was sent home  'for a change' as an invalid from Egypt on the ship 'Willochra' on 25 September 1915. 

He was reported as suffering from 'Enteritis and debility [due to] four months [on] Gallipoli.'   The Willochra arrived at Dunedin on 30 October and after a medical inspection Herbert was sent on to Wellington with the other North Island men who were fit to travel. They landed in Wellington on 2 November and Herbert is likely to have visited the Berry studio shortly afterwards.

Evidently Herbert's health did not improve after arriving home, as he was discharged from the Expeditionary Force on 8 June 1916.  He returned to his job with the Railways at Ohingaiti and on 21 April 1919 at Wellington he married Edith Mowbray.

Herbert  later settled in the Levin district where he took up farming, and he died at Levin on 11 July 1955.         



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.