A Visit to the Portrait Studio

Before heading to war, recruits often visited their local photography studio to have their portraits taken.

WWI 10

Dressed in uniform, they posed proudly in front of the camera. In 1914, there were nearly 50 photography studios in Canterbury and 20 of these were in Christchurch.

Portraits were given as keepsakes for those at home to remember their loved ones at the front. These portraits became memorials for those who died and were buried overseas.

Many of the photographs were reprinted in the newspapers' Roll of Honour pages that reported on the injured and dead. Private photographs therefore became objects of public memory and mourning.

Studio photograph of an unidentified soldier

Courtesy of Barry O'Sullivan. All Rights Reserved

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Nursing Sister Nona Hildyard

Nona was the first nurse from Lyttelton to travel to the front. In Alexandria, Egypt, she boarded the troopship HMTS Marquette and four days later, on 23 October 1915, the German submarine U-35 torpedoed the ship. She and nine other New Zealand nurses lost their lives.

Nona was one of the 18,058 New Zealanders who died as a result of World War One and one of the 550 nurses who served.

Imperial War Museum WWC H22-9

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Sergeant Henry James Nicholas (24213)

Noted for his exceptional valour and coolness under pressure, Henry was awarded a Victoria Cross for his "conspicuous bravery" during an attack on Polderhoek Chateau in Belgium on 3 December 1917. He was also awarded a Military Medal for acts of gallantry in the field just nine days before he was killed near Le Quesnoy on 23 October 1917.

Henry was one of the 18,058 New Zealanders who died as a result of World War One.

Watch a video about Henry Nicholas

Canterbury Museum 2007.101.5

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Private Arthur Elderton (6/3008)

A descendant of the writer Charles Dickens, Arthur was working as a carrier in Papanui when he volunteered in July 1915. He was sent first to Egypt and then to France in April 1916. Wounded in the stomach by a shell at Armentières on 8 July 1916, he died in hospital two days later.

Arthur was one of the 18,058 New Zealanders who died as a result of World War One.


Canterbury Museum 1999.128.43

Percy uniform6

Sergeant Percy Robert Holland (10/2648)

The son of Christchurch Mayor Harry Holland and his wife Jane, Percy volunteered for service in August 1915.

He survived fighting in Gallipoli but was tragically killed by gas poisoning in France on 4 February 1917. He, along with other soldiers from his battalion, are buried in the Communal Cemetery at Estaires, France.

Percy was one of the 18,058 New Zealanders who died as a result of World War One.


Courtesy of Helen Thomas. All Rights Reserved

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Sergeant Felix Rooney (6/2740)

His heroic adventure in Antarctica led Felix to seek a new adventure at war.

He served as a signaller with the Canterbury 6th Reinforcements and witnessed the Gallipoli Campaign. Transferred to the Western Front, he was wounded at Armentières.

He returned home to Lyttelton in 1919 and married Elizabeth Ann McGeown in 1920.

Canterbury Museum 2010.155.1

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Second Lieutenant James Arthur Sydney Marris (6/672)

Private Arthur Marris fought at Gallipoli where he was wounded twice. He was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps in France and promoted several times.

Arthur suffered shrapnel wounds to the scalp in May 1917 but recovered and remained in England for the rest of the War.


Courtesy of John Marris. All Rights Reserved

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Private Alfred James Batchelor (35411)

Alfred worked as a labourer in Culverden, North Canterbury, before enlisting.

He received a gunshot wound in his right arm in 1918 and was discharged on account of his wounds.

The military Medical Board declared him unfit to serve for 12 months. By the time he recovered, the War had ended.


Canterbury Museum 2015.83.3

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Lieutenant Colonel Percival Clennell Fenwick (3/158A)

Christchurch surgeon Lieutenant Colonel Fenwick joined up for active service shortly after war was declared.

He suffered an injury to his ear drum as a result of a shell explosion at Gallipoli. A fortnight after peace was declared, he fell ill to influenza.


Canterbury Museum 19XX.2.1623

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Private Clarence Roy Harris (6/646)

Christchurch-born Clarence, the oldest of eight children, was a draper's assistant in Hokitika when he enlisted in August 1914. After fighting at Gallipoli, he was sent to Europe where an exploded shell wounded him on 16 September 1916. He was subsequently invalided home with shell shock.


Hokitika Museum GPN#004 Harris. All Rights Reserved


Staff Sergeant Albert Edward Gill (37808)

Six weeks after arriving in France, Bert received a severe wound to the buttocks.

After recovering in a British hospital, he was reassigned to the Clerical Section of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force headquarters in London.

He settled in Leeston, Canterbury and married local woman Maud McLachlan.

Courtesy of Helen MacArthur. All Rights Reserved


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Rifleman William Te Koeti Bannister (46870)

One of nine men to enlist from the small settlement of Makaawhio Pā at Jacobs River on the West Coast.

William Bannister was wounded on the Western Front in late 1917 and returned home. He also served a Lieutenant with the Home Guard during World War Two.


Courtesy of Kara Edwards. All Rights Reserved

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Sergeant George William Ladd Thomson (3/143A)

George was a dental assistant in Timaru when he enlisted in August 1914.

After serving with the Medical Corps at Gallipoli, George joined the New Zealand Dental Corps. In March 1917, he was transferred to England as a technician assisting with the restoration of soldiers’ shattered jaws and faces.

After the War, he qualified as a dental surgeon and established a practice in Auckland, where he remained until his retirement.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira PH-2003-1-76


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Driver Alfred Henry Corey (43029)

A shrapnel wound to the head in September 1918 left Alfred Corey blind.

While recovering at St Dunstans in London, he met Elsie Mumford who used to read to the patients.

The couple fell in love, married, moved to Christchurch and went on to have four children.


Courtesy of Justin Corey. All Rights Reserved

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Lieutenant James Robert Dennistoun

Originally from Peel Forest, South Canterbury, James served with the North Irish Horse unit and later joined the 23rd Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps.

During a bombing raid on Germany in 1916, his plane caught fire and he had to land behind enemy lines. He died as a result of his injuries in a German hospital.  

James was one of the 18,058 New Zealanders who died as a result of World War One.


Canterbury Museum 2016.1.258

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Trooper Reginald Allen Giddens (78417)

A farmhand at Little River, Canterbury, before the War, Reginald volunteered for service in January 1918.

He could count himself one of the luckier soldiers. He departed New Zealand on 10 November 1918, the day before the Armistice and returned home a year later.


Canterbury Museum 1980.175.72

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Lieutenant Harold Edgar (45317)

Harold was a married self-employed barrister of Christchurch when he enlisted in January 1917.

Having previously been an officer in the Senior Cadets, he was given the rank of Second Lieutenant.

Assigned to the 3rd New Zealand Light Trench Mortar Battery, Harold fought in France during 1918. He served in New Zealand during World War Two.


Courtesy of Margaret Johns. All Rights Reserved

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Trooper Henry Edward Beckett (78269)

Henry tried to enlist when war was declared but was rejected after his father advised the authorities that he was only 17 years old.

He was conscripted 4 days after his 20th birthday in January 1918 and went to Egypt with the Mounted Rifles Brigade. After the War he worked as an electrician and married Daisy Earwaker in 1923.



Canterbury Museum PIC88/86

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Lieutenant Commander Frank Arthur Worsley

After returning from nearly two years in Antarctica in late 1916, Worsley left Wellington for England the following February.

Once there he joined the Royal Navy Reserve and, as Captain of a Q-ship, was responsible for sinking a German U-boat on 26 September 1917.

Later in the war he was part of the North Russia Expeditionary Force.

Alexander Turnbull Library 1/2-182002-F


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Private Richard Charles Wells (6/3502)

When he enlisted in August 1915, Richard was following three of his brothers to the War.

In France he served with the Field Ambulance until he was wounded at Armentières in September 1916.

After convalescing he undertook duties at headquarters before being returned to New Zealand and discharged as medically unfit in January 1918.


Hokitika Museum GPN2210. All Rights Reserved