Thomas James Rodoni
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.
A week after enlisting, Rodoni's company embarked on the HMAS Berrima and sailed to German New Guinea among a fleet with orders to seize two wireless stations and to disable the German colonies there.
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.
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.
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).
The wider collection of glass plate negatives – over 600 in total and with many views of Newcastle and its surrounds is an incredible legacy to Thomas Rodoni and his family.
Rodoni died in 1956 as a result of a car accident in Waratah, Newcastle.Date of Birth1882Date of Death1956OccupationEngineerPhotographerSoldierPlace of ResidenceNewcastle, NSW