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Robert Lennox Suggett

Nasho 57: 98 days at Pucka

News Article Date: 
Friday, 28 April 2017

In 1957, young Warrnambool photographer Robert Lennox Suggett was called up for his National Service. Sixty years later, the old negatives of the photos he took during his 98 days in Puckapunyal have been re-discovered, with the photos printed and put on display for the first time.

Nasho ’57: 98 Days at Pucka is a candid photographic essay of life between January and April 1957 for the 14th National Service Training Battalion, Royal Australian Artillery.

Mr Suggett took the photos with a Rolleicord twin-lens reflex camera, with the exhibition’s 35 photographs offering rare glimpses into the private lives of these servicemen.

“I decided at the time I’d like to do a photo essay but I didn’t have permission or anything, I was just one of the recruits,” he said.

“We had parades and all sorts of things, but there are no photos of them because I was in them.

“This is us before and after hours.”

A keen photographer before his National Service, Mr Suggett had his first photos published in The Standard at the age of 15, and would go on to work at the paper as a cadet journalist, staff photographer, reporter and sub-editor.

A long career in the media and in the army saw him amass thousands of negatives, which he has only recently had time to revisit.

“I have a huge number of negatives filed, but they are all properly stored, so these negatives are in very good condition even though they are 60 years old.”

As well as being of personal appeal, the photographs are of interest to Mr Suggett’s old mates who are in the pictures, as well as being of significant historical importance.

“I already know of some of (the men in the photos) who are coming down to see them,” he said.

“I’ll be meeting some of them for the first time in 60 years.

“These are snapshots from a different era.”

Nasho ’57: 98 Days at Pucka is on display at the Warrnambool Art Gallery until June 12.

Entry is free

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