Recently unearthed World War I photographs of a Kiwi officer and a cross-dressing Frenchwoman have attracted international interest, but a historian says the find is not particularly significant for New Zealand.
The photographs, believed to have been taken in a village in the Somme area, show the officer posing with a female companion. The woman is wearing his New Zealand uniform.
It has been discovered the officer was Captain Albert Arthur Chapman, who fought in the Battle of the Somme.
New Zealand military historian Andrew Macdonald identified the officer by matching his collar and cap badges with service records, which show he served in the 7th Southland Mounted Rifles and the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion before being promoted to captain.
"In the records of the New Zealand Pioneer (Maori) Battalion there are only two officers who meet these criteria. One of these did not reach the rank of captain, leaving Albert Arthur Chapman as the prime candidate," Macdonald told The Independent.
"His service record fits the man in these images like a glove. He was transferred from the Pioneer Battalion to serve with the New Zealand Division headquarter staff behind the lines of the Somme in April, May and June 1916.
"He was transferred back to the same Pioneer battalion when the New Zealand Division entered the battle [from 15 September]. He was promoted to first lieutenant in October 1916. He won the Military Cross in June 1918."
Chapman was born in Tasmania in 1880 but moved to New Zealand, working as a clerk for a shipping company in Dunedin.
He volunteered as a trooper in October 1914, and according to his military history sheet, he served in Egypt and Gallipoli, before being stationed in Western Europe - mainly France. He returned to New Zealand in October 1918, before the end of the war.
Records show he never married, leaving details of his relationship with the Frenchwoman in the photograph open to speculation.
Senior historian for the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Damien Fenton, said the photographs were not of huge significance to New Zealand.
"They are interesting, but they don't tell us all that much about the war," he said.
Much of the fascination overseas had been to do with the woman wearing Chapman's full uniform, something Fenton said was not unheard of.
"It's not unusual to come across photos like that. We've seen other photos of girlfriends, wives and sisters dressed up in uniforms. Strictly speaking, they weren't breaking any official rules," he said.
"These are just personal, private photos taken in a social setting."
The photographs are part of The Independent's "lost images" of World War I, discovered in the Somme in 2009.
At least 400 glass plates containing the images were rescued from attics, barns and rubbish skips.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum was aware of the photographs but had not made any approaches regarding them.
The museum's pictorial librarian, Shaun Higgins, said they did consider acquiring any original wartime photographs relating to New Zealand at war.
"With the approaching World War I centenary we expect more material to surface and welcome the opportunity to expand our collections.
"Additionally, our Cenotaph database uses confirmed portraits to attach to enrich the record of those who served," he said.
The Cenotaph database contains a record for Chapman. Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 9 March 2016 - http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/8991842/Kiwi-soldiers-snaps-make-headlines