Southland war veterans' faces immortalised for the future

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2014
Jack Wylie
NICOLE JOHNSTONE/ Fairfax NZ

HERO CAPTURED: Rochelle Dillon photographs World War II army lieutenant Jack Wylie in Gore. The image will go alongside about 3000 other portraits of World War II veterans in New Zealand.

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Edendale man Jack Wylie doesn't talk about the war much, but his 96-year-old face will tell its own story along with thousands of other World War II veterans who are being photographed nationwide.

The veterans are being hunted out of every nook and cranny in Southland and across the country so professional photographers can take their portraits to be preserved for history.

Mr Wylie, who was photographed in Gore yesterday, was one of about 3000 veterans taking part in a New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography and RSA project to immortalise the faces of World War II veterans.

Many of the veterans' portraits were taken on Anzac Day, but more than 100 of the institute's photographers are back on the hunt looking for stragglers who escaped being shot by the lens.

Mr Wylie's wife, Edna, 90, said her husband served in Italy and Egypt during the war. Like many others who served, he never talked about his war years much.

"Only the good parts."

He was happy to be photographed for the project, but was not overly fussed, she said.

He did, however, think it was a good idea to photograph World War II veterans for the benefit of future generations.

So did Mrs Wylie.

"I think it's very important they are remembered. They fought for their country, they did very well I reckon."

Institute photographer Rochelle Dillon, who took Mr Wylie's photo, said about 30 World War II veterans had been photographed in Southland.

"These people are getting older and we want to photograph them so we can remember them and recognise what they have done for us."

The 3000 portraits nationwide would be collated and exhibited, she said.

She urged veterans who had not been photographed to come forward so their portraits could be taken. "We want to get as many as we can, these people are a key part of our history."

Veterans and their families who have not been photographed can contact Megan Graham on 021 0267 4066.

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- The Southland Times

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