The Birdwood Flag Conservation Project

Birdwood Flag After Restoration 2017

The Birdwood Flag After Conservation-2017

The Birdwood Flag Conservation Project
Amir Moghadam, UON

This blog, and the ones that will follow, look back over three and a half years to detail the preservation and conservation measures that returned the restored Birdwood flag to Newcastle’s Christ Church Cathedral in July 2017.

The posts will be presented as a narrative, relying on my own notes, images and memories and interspersing this narrative with comments from other members of the Birdwood Heritage Committee. The aim is to make an account that includes a variety of perspectives so that community members gain knowledge they can use in their own preservation projects.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…”

The Birdwood Flag’s preservation story is well described by applying Lao Tzu’s quotation above. The first definite steps in restoring the flag were made in November 2013 following a number of comments on the flag in previous years. The reality we faced was thousands of fragments of mostly reddish looking textile stored in a plastic back within a large cardboard box in a damp vault of the Cathedral.

Birdwood Flag Before Conservation-02

The Birdwood Flag Before Conservation-2013

The other reality was the complete absence of any substantial funding and support that would be required for a major restoration. No group of people who might have the expertise to manage such a project could be identified and the one conservator at the University of Newcastle, myself, was so occupied with other projects, there was no time available, even for discussion or planning. Everything had to be established and negotiated from scratch. As a conservator, I knew this would involve the creation of a strategy for preservation of the flag to gauge the feasibility and practicality of the process. Only then could there be some negotiation between interested groups (including the University and the Cathedral) and then applications for resources, grants or other help through public and private benefactors.

As a principle of conservation, the level of material disintegration of an object is also considered. The Birdwood Flag’s utterly fragmented and delicate state would usually rule it out of consideration for restoration. The time for conservation would be judged as having expired so that any effort to restore it would be seen as pointless or worse still, as endangering the authenticity of the item. Indeed, such conservation would be perceived as blurring the lines between conservation and total re-construction of the item.

However a different principle of conservation argued against dismissing the idea of conservation and labelling the Birdwood Flag as a hopeless case. The significance of an item, be it art-work or monument, argues for or against the dedication of scarce resources to preserve it. Even so, the integrity of the item’s fabric is very important in deciding its significance. An item can only be considered as significant if enough of it remains to show what it is.

There was a Catch 22 involved with arguing the significance of the Birdwood Flag in its disintegrated state. To do this, some assurance was needed that it could be put together and made recognisable as a flag of a particular design, dimension and colour. A bag of confetti does not easily lend itself to such an assurance. Many people engaged in cultural heritage work experience such dilemmas. This is the moment when a project is often abandoned. However the Birdwood Flag was too important to be forgotten. It narrates the sacrifices of soldiers of a nation established only 15 years earlier during one of the most cruel and catastrophic wars in human history. Moreover the flag tells a story above and beyond a tale of WWI. Produced by a community yet official, flown on the battlefield yet returned to the community who built its own War Memorial and ‘laid up’ the flag there, this object provides important evidence for larger historical and social enquiries.

Birdwood Group

From left: Major Roland Millbank, Birdwood Committee; Dr.Rosemary Barnard, Birdwood Comittee; Dr. Amir Mogadam, Conservator, UON; Mr. Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, UON; Dr. Patricia Gillard, Birdwood Committee; Mr.Julian Bickersteth, Managing Director, ICS.

The Birdwood Flag has been restored and this blog is being published 31 July 2017; the day after the Birdwood Flag was re-hallowed in a special service to mark its return to Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle. The brochure, Two Lives, tells the story of the one hundred years between the first making of the flag and its successful restoration and return. Further blogs will show the steps during three and a half years that brought us to this day.

MEDIA

“Re-Hallowing of the Birdwood Flag Service” Newcastle Anglican (1 August 2017)
http://newcastleanglican.org.au/re-hallowing-of-the-birdwood-flag-service/

“WW1 Flag Returned to Newcastle After Painstaking Restoration” NBN News (20 July 2017)
http://www.nbnnews.com.au/2017/07/20/wwi-flag-returned-to-newcastle-after-painstaking-restoration/

“Australia’s first flag forgotten, found and restored all in 100 years” ABC News (30 June 2017)
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-29/australian-first-flag-found-and-restored-in-nsw/8663158

“Precious WW1 Flag on the Mend” by Mike Scanlon. Newcastle Herald (2 June 2017)
http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4700307/precious-relic-on-the-mend/

Richard Thurnwald and Thomas James Rodoni in the Upper Sepik 1914

New Guinea Tribesmen circa 1914 - 1915

Telefolmin men from the highland valley near the source of the Sepik River, Papua New Guinea, September 1914. Image by Dr Richard Thurnwald

A small number of an historic hoard of rare images taken in German New Guinea at the outbreak of WW1 are now understood to have been looted, by an Australian military expedition, from German ethnologist Dr Richard Thurnwald.

And so, another intesting chapter in the life and times of Thomas James Rodoni (1882-1956) and his fellow troops in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) has now emerged thanks to Dr Barry Craig, Senior Curator, Foreign Ethnology at the South Australian Museum.

Following the launch of Rodoni’s digitised photographic glass and film negatives in the freely accessible Rodoni Archive, Dr Craig commented on the site’s pages in May/June 2015 that he had recognised that a number of Rodoni’s images had not been taken by him, but, in fact taken by a German ethnographer Richard Thurnwald possibly in Sept-Oct 1914.  He stated:

“Thurnwald had returned from his exploration to the source of the Sepik, apparently leaving his photographs at his base camp, and set off up the Sepik again in November to explore the Sand and North Rivers (the latter as far north as the Bewani Range). While he was away, the AN&MEF arrived (with Rodoni) on the Nusa and took all of Thurnwald’s boats, his engineer Theodore Fiebig, and supplies, collections, notes and images back down the river, eventually to Madang. When Thurnwald returned to find his camp ransacked, he went down river in a paddle canoe, sustained by a few cans of beans, and reported to the police station at Angoram, and then went on to Madang where he was befriended by Captain Walter Balfour Ogilvy, the District Officer there. Thurnwald then attempted to get all his things back but it took many years and not everything was returned. It seems these images in possession of Rodoni were part of the looting.” – Dr Barry Craig Wednesday, 20 May, 2015 at 10:57 am

Dr Craig published The Fate of Thurnwald’s Sepik Ethnographic Collections, and it was interesting to finally be able to locate a small portion of the collection, after a hundred years, that had been lying in a suburban garage and lost to the world.

We invited Dr Craig to prepare an article on this story, in order that these images could have their original provenance properly reassigned, which he did, with the assistance of Dr Christine Winter.

We thank both Dr Barry Craig and Dr Christine Winter for permission to publish their work that recounts the story of the images, and the locations in which they were taken.

The following two articles can be downloaded to your desktop, ipad or mobile device.

Richard Thurnwald and Thomas James Rodoni in the Upper Sepik Region of New Guinea 1914 [15.2 MB PDF FILE] by Dr Barry Craig, Senior Curator, Foreign Ethnology, South Australian Museum and Dr Christine Winter, ARC Future Fellow – Matthew Flinders Fellow, Flinders University

The Fate of Thurnwald’s Sepik Ethnographic Collections [8MB PDF FILE]
By Barry Craig, South Australian Museum, Adelaide (1997)

From pp. 387-408 in GESTERN UND HEUTE – TRADIONEN IN DER SUDSEE MARKUS SCHINDLBECK (ed.) BAESSLER-ARCHIV Neue Folge, XLV 1997.
(Reproduced with kind permission of the publisher)

These papers are also published on the The Upper Sepik-Central New Guinea Project pages http://uscngp.com/papers/

Great War

Gas Masks

Gas Masks – taken by Lt Thomas Fahey in the Middle East theatre, WW1

Did you know that we have several fascinating collections which feature photos from World War 1?

These could be invaluable for the school projects which are often scheduled at this time of year.

The above photo is from an album created by Lt Thomas Gerald George Fahey who served in the Australian Light Horse in the Middle East.  Lt Fahey’s album has some great photos of  the Light Horsemen, as well as the buildings and the everyday life of people in the Middle East.  Have a browse through the Robinson Family Collection to see these interesting glimpses of the past.

If you’re interested in Australia’s actions in New Guinea in 1914, see the Rodoni Archive. Here, Thomas James Rodoni used his camera to record daily events and significant moments in the expedition, and made several group portraits of the officers and soldiers in his company. He also photographed many of the people and places of New Guinea.

Rodoni photograph

Thomas James Rodoni (on right) New Guinea, August 1914 to January 1915

If the Western Front captures your attention, the Dalton Family Papers are for you. William and James Dalton, two local lads, served in France during the Great War. Sadly, James was killed in action in 1917. William took many photos during his time there, and these can be seen in his family’s papers. Here is one taken while Will and two of his friends were taking a break.

Bob Johnston, Alf Killick and William Dalton sitting at the end of a haystack during World War 1

Bob Johnston, Alf Killick and William Dalton sitting at the end of a haystack during World War 1

You can also try this search – https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=8571926%40N06&view_all=1&text=world%20war%201 The search results will include other collections which have fewer WW1 photos which are still interesting and useful such as:

WW1 poster

M2150 World War 1 Enlistment Poster [c.1915]

If you would like to download the photo(s) for your research project, please see our instructions at https://uoncc.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/downloading-original-sized-photos-from-flickr/

 

Rodoni Archive Now Online

Public Parade ‘Domain Artillery of the Front’, Sydney? c.1914

It is with great pleasure that we announce that the photographic glass and film negatives of Thomas James Rodoni (1882-1956) have now been digitised and are freely available in high resolution on our flickr site as The Rodoni Archive:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157651638124931/

This amazing collection was donated in February 2014 by Thomas (‘TJ’) Rodoni’s son Bill to the Cultural Collections, UON-Library, with the assistance of family friends Chris and Frances Fussell.  Since Bill’s death in late 2014, other members of the family have stepped in and assisted in donating further negatives, and providing important papers to the University’s Archives. We thank Ian Rodoni and family for his help in the identification of family members and in providing family records to assist in the accessioning and description process. We also thank renown Hunter Valley military historian David Dial OAM for his help in describing the military related photographs documenting World War 1 patriotic recruitment drives across New South Wales, and military campaigns in German Papua New Guinea.

Special thanks has to go to our volunteers Natasha Schroder, and historians Ken Thornton and Dr Ann Hardy for their work on this project. Natasha scanned every glass negative, while Ken and Ann researched the historical background of each image, documenting as much as they could find on the dating, geo-tagging and synthesising information that is continuing to come in through our social media networks.

Dr Ann Hardy (Uni Historian) and Mark Sutherland (Associate Librarian Research and Information Services) (Photo: Naomi Stewart)

Dr Ann Hardy (Uni Historian) and Mark Sutherland (Associate Librarian Research and Information Services) (Photo: Naomi Stewart)

The initial upload of the negatives to our flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/ broke all our records with 119,000 hits in a single day. Since then, information continues to stream in from across the communities about the locations, buildings, streetscapes and people captured in the images.

Thanks to the wonderful team at the University Gallery led by Gillean Shaw, the exhibition Australia’s Forgotten ANZACS: Lost Images from Australia’s first conflict: the fall of German New Guinea curated by Gillean Shaw and Naomi Stewart was launched on the 27 March 2015 in the presence of Rodoni’s family and friends. Tess McLeod (nee Rodoni) travelled from Dorrigo to bring Thomas James Rodoni’s war medals to the Gallery so they could be exhibited with his photographs.

Naomi Stewart, one of the curators at the Exhibition launch 27 March 2015 (Photo: Chris Fussell)

Naomi Stewart, one of the curators, at the Exhibition launch 27 March 2015 (Photo: Chris Fussell)

Amir Mogadam (Uni Conservator) and Gionni Di Gravio (Uni Archivist) speaking at the Exhibition launch 27 March 2015 (Photo: Chris Fussell)

Amir Mogadam (Uni Conservator) and Gionni Di Gravio (Uni Archivist) speaking at the Exhibition launch 27 March 2015 (Photo: Chris Fussell)

Gillean Shaw (Curator) with -Tess McLeod (nee Rodoni) and husband Jim Mcleod (Photo: Naomi Stewart)

Gillean Shaw (Curator) with Tess McLeod (nee Rodoni) and husband Jim Mcleod (Photo: Naomi Stewart)

Tess McLeod (nee Rodoni) travelled all the way from Dorrigo to bring T.J. Rodoni's war medals could be part of the exhibition.

Tess McLeod (nee Rodoni) travelled all the way from Dorrigo so that her grand father T.J. Rodoni’s war medals could be part of the exhibition.

Ian Rodoni (right) grandson of T.J. Rodoni pictured with Deputy Vice-Chancellor Andrew Parfitt, Uni Librarian Greg Anderson and Ian's wife at left (Photo: Naomi Stewart)

Ian Rodoni (right), grandson of T.J. Rodoni pictured with Deputy Vice-Chancellor Andrew Parfitt, Uni Librarian Greg Anderson and Ian’s wife at left (Photo: Naomi Stewart)

One of Rodoni's cameras, donated by Ian Rodoni, grand son of Thomas James Rodoni. (Photo: Naomi Stewart)

One of T.J. Rodoni’s cameras, donated by Ian Rodoni, grand son of Thomas James Rodoni. (Photo: Naomi Stewart)

Thomas James Rodoni was born in 1882 at Hotham East, Victoria, to Swiss and Irish parents. While living in Sydney in August 1914 as a man of 31, Rodoni joined the first Australian Imperial Force that would engage in the Great War: the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force.

T.J. Rodoni's Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force Discharge Papers 28th January 1915 (recto)

T.J. Rodoni’s Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force Discharge Papers 28th January 1915 (recto)

T.J. Rodoni's Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force Discharge Papers 28th January 1915 (verso)

T.J. Rodoni’s Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force Discharge Papers 28th January 1915 (verso)

A week after enlisting, Rodoni’s company embarked on the HMAS Berrima that left Sydney 19 September 1914 and sailed to German New Guinea among a fleet with orders to seize two wireless stations and to disable the German colonies there.

After the fall of German New Guinea, c.1914-1915

After the fall of German New Guinea, c.1914-1915

Rodoni’s unofficial photographs – many of them “candid” shots, captured in the moment – are a rare glimpse of this pivotal moment in Australia’s history. He has documented the energetic atmosphere of prewar Sydney and its surrounds, from civilian and military marches to battleships docked in Sydney Harbour, with accompanying crowds of people brought together for these special events. His camera voyaged with him on the expedition to the Pacific region, taking images both from the ship’s deck and then again on dry land after disembarking.

Letter to Rodoni from the close friend of a deceased soldier, Gilfillan, requesting a copy of a photograph of him (3rd September 1915)

Letter to Rodoni from Lillie Searle, close friend of a deceased soldier, Gilfillan, who died of typhoid fever on route from Alexandria to Gallipoli, requesting a copy of a rare photograph, 3rd September 1915.

Letter to Rodoni from the close friend of a deceased soldier, Gilfillan, requesting a copy of a photograph of him (3rd September 1915)

Letter to Rodoni from Lillie Searle, the close friend of a deceased soldier, Gilfillan, who died of typhoid fever on route from Alexandria to Gallipoli, requesting a copy of a rare photograph of him, 3rd September 1915.

Rodoni was stationed in New Guinea for five months with the AN&MEF after the successful capture of territory from the German forces. His striking images are testament to his ease with the camera, and the ease of his fellow servicemen around this avid amateur photographer. He used his camera to record daily events and significant moments in the expedition, and made several group portraits of the officers and soldiers in his company. Yet his images also suggest a genuine curiosity for the foreign people and places where he was stationed, and a love of the photographic medium in which he practiced during this early period of the war.

New Guinea Tribesmen circa 1914 - 1915

New Guinea Tribesmen circa 1914 – 1915

After leaving New Guinea with the AN&MEF and returning home to Australia in January 1915, Rodoni left the force to work in a Small Arms Factory manufacturing munitions for the war. He soon married and settled in Newcastle with his wife, Catherine Annie Wilson, and had four children: Thomas, Mary, Jim and William (Bill).

Group of slightly drunk looking men, three sitting on Tooth & Co., Limited Morpeth Beer Barrels

Group of slightly drunk looking men, three sitting on Tooth & Co., Limited Morpeth Beer Barrels

The wider collection of glass plate negatives – over 500 in total and with many views of Newcastle and its surrounds is an incredible legacy to Thomas Rodoni and his family.

Advertisement in Newcastle Sun 20 May 1919 (Trove)

Advertisement in Newcastle Sun 20 May 1919 (Trove)

Rodoni died in 1956 as a result of a car accident in Waratah, Newcastle.

The original negatives are held in Cultural Collections at the Auchmuty Library, University of Newcastle (Australia).

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist

Reflections on the Rodoni Archive
by Dr Ann Hardy

The Thomas Rodoni Collection was donated to the University of Newcastle in 2014 and interpreting the 500+ photographs has been interesting and overall a positive process.  We have needed to be resourceful in finding ways to research and deliver this significant collection to the wider community.

In this ANZAC centenary year, the Rodoni collection is celebrated 100 years on, in an exhibition at the University of Newcastle (25 March- 11 April 2015), curated by Gillean Shaw and Naomi Stewart.  The focus has been on the WWI photographs in the collection, however the collection is diverse tracing Thomas Rodoni’s life from Sydney to Lithgow, and then to Newcastle between the decades 1910 to 1930s. There are many photographs of industrial work spaces and machinery, later works show his wife Catherine Annie and their four children, as well as friends and acquaintances.

Researching the Rodoni collection has included collaborating with the wider community, consisting the Rodoni family and friends, volunteers of the university, academic and military historians.  This collaborative approach has been particularly effective because of the limited information that was available about the collection, and the relatively short time to research and make the collection available to the public by April 2015.

This community research project was led by University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio. One of the first priorities was to conserve and safeguard the collection, this was done by Conservator Amir Mogadom who worked on the glass and film negatives to carefully preserve them and make ready to be digitally scanned. Natasha Schroder scanned the entire collection over a 3 month period, and Historian Ann Hardy researched photographs in consultation with family and colleagues. Historian Ken Thornton researched in more detail the history of the WWI New Guinea campaign, providing context to the photographs taken by Rodoni during the lead up to WWI war and his time in New Guinea. A ‘Slide show’ presentation of the collection was shared with family and friends and their responses recorded, similarly historians were also invited to a ‘slide show’ and their feedback regarding the WWI photographs were noted. Because of the high number of industrial related images we may run in the future a ‘slide show’ with industrial heritage groups to help to identify machinery and the location of workshops and factories.

A community approach has enabled research of the collection to occur fairly quickly. There are still many gaps in the ‘history’ of individual images, however the general context of the collection has been established well enough to be able to present the entire collection to the community via Flicker.

Community engagement will be ongoing. The local community approach already started will continue, and now that the collection is on Flicker further information provided by a global community will help to build new knowledge about this significant collection.

Ann Hardy
– 27 March 2015

Three men throwing a bottle in the air. c1910s

Three men throwing a bottle in the air. c1910s

Australia’s forgotten ANZACS

Australia's forgotten ANZACs: Lost images from Australia's first

AUSTRALIA’S FORGOTTEN ANZACS

Lost images from Australia’s first conflict – the fall of German New Guinea

C50 EXHIBITION

The University Gallery

25 March – 11 April 2015

Thomas James Rodoni’s glass plate negatives were unearthed from under a house in Speers Point by Rodoni’s son Bill, and given to Cultural Collections at the University of Newcastle in 2014 – one hundred years after the start of WW1.

These glass negatives were lost treasures that documented the first military conflict of the First War, the fall of German New Guinea, an engagement that witnessed the first casualties of WW1. This extremely rare collection is by one of the few non-official photographers during the war and this is the first time these images will be on display, commemorating 100 years of ANZAC.

The University Gallery and Cultural Collections acknowledge the support of the late Bill Rodoni and his family and Chris and Frances Fussell in bringing this extraordinary collection to light.

The exhibition is a part of a series of events celebrating the University of Newcastle’s 50th anniversary.

Gallery talk with the University archivist and conservator about Rodoni’s glass plate negatives:
Friday 27 MARCH at 5:15pm

Then join Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Andrew Parfitt at the official launch and cocktail party at the University Gallery: from 6pm

The other side of No Man’s Land

BOOK LAUNCH – an open invitation

You are cordially invited to the launch of

John Ramsland’s
THE OTHER SIDE OF NO MAN’S LAND
Arthur Wheen World War I Hero

Book cover

To the Battles of Fromelles, Bullecourt, Polygon Wood, Villers-Bretonneux and Péronne on the Western Front with the 54th Battalion, Fifth Division AIF

The Australian who translated the 1929 bestseller, All Quiet on the Western Front into English.

‘The Morning Star is quenched with blood. In these hideous days Slaughter took toll in bodies, minds and souls.’

Arthur Wesley Wheen MM & 2 Bars, 1919

 

 

WHEN:

5.30-7.00pm Thursday, 5 February 2015

WHERE:

UNITED SERVICE CLUB,
57 WATT ST, NEWCASTLE (between King and Church Streets)

Light refreshments provided and the Bar will be open

RSVP:

mark@ramsland.com.au or

4929 7979 (Ramsland Laidler Solicitors) or

john.ramsland@newcastle.edu.au

Local Treasures: The Rodoni Glass Negatives

Troops posing for a comical photograph after fall of German Papua,1914 (Thomas James Rodoni)

Troops posing for a comical photograph after fall of German Papua, 1914 (Digitised from a Thomas James Rodoni Glass negative by Chris Fussell)


Day Shift – 19/08/2014 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Nick Gerber
Interviewees: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, University of Newcastle (Australia)

Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist of the University of Newcastle discusses plans for the recently donated glass negatives of the late Thomas James Rodoni that documented Australia’s first military conflict of the First World War, the fall of German New Guinea. The Collection also contains images from the lead up to the Great War, including what appears to be recruitment drives across Sydney and Newcastle. There are also images believed to be taken at places around Lithgow and Newcastle. We would appreciate any further information relating to the selection of images below

Broadcast Notes:

In February 2014 Bill Rodoni, son of the late Thomas James Rodoni donated all his father’s original glass negatives held in his possession to the University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections (Auchmuty Library).

Close family friends Chris Fussell and his wife helped Bill organize the transfer of the Collection to the University, Chris, being a photographer, also kindly provided some of the digitized images he was able to make of the glass negatives that were in good enough condition.

Chris Fussell (left) with Bill Rodoni (right) son of the late Thomas James Rodoni

Chris Fussell (left) with Bill Rodoni (right) son of the late Thomas James Rodoni

Some of these images were featured in the recent 5th August 2014 Newcastle Herald story here: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2466630/hunters-first-wwi-volunteers-in-action-in-new-guinea-photos/

At present, there are nine or so images up on the Herald website to accompany the story. The newspaper print edition featured two images.

We collected around four archival boxes worth of glass plates. Some (i.e., around 2 boxes worth) of the original glass negatives were in relatively good condition, and another two archival boxes worth (that lay in Bill’s downstairs garage) were in a very terrible condition, water damaged, moldy, dirty and most stuck together.

Rodoni Glass Negatives upon arrival at University of Newcastle

Rodoni Glass Negatives upon arrival at University of Newcastle

All these glass negatives are now in the hands of our conservator, undergoing a thorough conservation and preservation treatment involving documenting their condition, cleaning, carefully separating the damaged plate, and then re-housing all of them in new archival quality boxes.

Once this phase is done, we will commence the digitization of them all, and have secured the University Gallery for an exhibition next year running  from March 2015 as the University’s contribution to the Anzac Centenary Commemorations.

Dr Ann Hardy, a University historian, has also said she would be prepared to volunteer her time to research Thomas James Rodoni’s life and trace the subject matter of his photographic works in the collection for the Exhibition. Gillian Shaw, University Gallery Curator, has booked the University Art Gallery from March 2015 next year to present large reproductions of these Rodoni slides as part of our contribution to the Centenary of Anzac Commemorations.

The collection is rare as there are few wartime collections taken by non-official photographers during the World War I.  The collection depicts Australia’s first military engagement of World War 1 being the transfer of power from German New Guinea in 1914 to the Australian Forces. This engagement also witnessed the first Australian casualties of First World War.

Biographical information relating to Thomas James Rodoni is scant, but have identified a moustachioed man  (in the selfie pictured below) and in a number of images as Thomas Rodoni.

The moustachioed man we believe is Thomas Rodoni

The moustachioed man we believe to be Thomas Rodoni

Military Parade - Leichhardt Marchers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Military Parade – Leichhardt Marchers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Military Parade - Farmers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Military Parade – Farmers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Plumber Gas Fitter Gladesville (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Plumber Gas Fitter Gladesville (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Bagpipes and Highland Dressed (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Bagpipes and Highland Dressed (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Street Parade - Domain Artillery Off to the Front (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Street Parade – Domain Artillery Off to the Front (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Lithgow - Parade Opposite Walters and Son Undertakers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Lithgow – Parade Opposite Walters and Son Undertakers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Newcastle Beach Crowds Military (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Newcastle Beach Crowds Military (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

The Australia in Sydney Harbour - View from Boats (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

The Australia in Sydney Harbour – View from Boats (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

The Australia in Sydney Harbour (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

The Australia in Sydney Harbour (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

New Guinea - Soldiers with Coconuts (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Soldiers with Coconuts (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

New Guinea - GMP Madang NG 1914

G.M.P. Madang NG 1914

Soldiers and Papuans (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Soldiers and Papuans (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Company of Soldiers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Company of Soldiers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Lineup of soldiers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Lineup of soldiers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Officers in White (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Officers in White (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Rodoni photographed with glass plate [?] (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Rodoni photographed with glass plate [?] (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Newcastle - Unveiling of Newcastle Post Office Cenotaph (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Newcastle – Unveiling of Newcastle Post Office Cenotaph (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Freidman's Carrington Hotel (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Freidman’s Carrington Hotel (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Diving at Newcastle (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Diving at Newcastle (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Newcastle - 2HD Mayfield (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Newcastle – 2HD Mayfield (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Interior - Unidentified Engineering Workshop (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Interior – Unidentified Engineering Workshop (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Unidentified workers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Unidentified workers (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Photograph taken of Newcastle Customs House, from second floor of Great Northern Hotel at 10 minutes to 1 PM date unknown (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Photograph taken of Newcastle Customs House, from second floor of Great Northern Hotel at 10 minutes to 1 PM date unknown (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Wer (sic) Are We [?] (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Wer (sic) Are We [?] (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Two Ladies on Shore at Sunrise or Sunset  (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

Two Ladies on Shore at Sunrise or Sunset (Thomas James Rodoni Original Glass Negative, digitised by Chris Fussell)

 

Name: Thomas James Rodoni

Born: 1872? (according to Bill vaguely) but actually born in 1882 in Victoria (sourced and confirmed by Lyn Keily via Ancestry.com)

Married: 1915 in Sydney to Catherine Annie

Occupation: Toolmaker

Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force document (Signed 28/1/15):
Certificate of Discharge of No. 534
(Rank) Private Name Rodoni T.J.
(Regiment or Corps) Aust Naval & Military Expedition
at or near the Town of [Hoth—?] Melbourne
in the State or Country of Victoria.
Attested at Sydney on the 18th August [1914] for the Australian Military Expedition Regiment or Corps at the age of 31 Years.
He is discharged in consequence of June expiring
Service towards completion of engagement 164 days
Service Abroad 164 days.
Discharge confirmed at Sydney.

New South Wales Government Railways and Tramways document dated 12th August 1915 from the Office of the Chief Commissioner Sydney states that Mr. T. J. Rodoni wrote to them on the 3rd August 1915 requesting desire to temporarily leave department to enter the Lithgow Small Arms factory to assist in manufacture of munitions for war.

Department of Defence document dated 23rd June 1916 certifies that T.J. Rodoni was employed in the Small Arms Factory Lithgow between 4th August 1915 and the 22nd June 1916 as a CUTTER GRINDER and that his conduct and character was GOOD.

A Government Dockyard, Newcastle document dated 4th March 1919 states that he was currently employed there on work connected with the engines for the Commonwealth Ships as a tradesman.

Died: 25th January 1956 (Mayfield) Killed in Waratah according to Bill while getting the newspaper he was involved in car accident, and died at the Mater a few hours later.

We welcome any further information that anyone can shed on Thomas James Rodoni and his collection of glass plate negatives.

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist
18th August 2014