Bob Hannan: Photographs 1975

Before the horror. Bob Hannan's iconic image of a Fretilin gathering at the Turismo Hotel, September 1975

Australian professional photographer, Bob Hannan, made two visits to Portuguese East Timor after the short 1975 civil war.

Working for Murdoch press, he was among the contingent of media representatives which flew into Fretilin-controlled Dili for two days on 11 September 1975.

Taking leave without pay, Hannan returned to Timor later in September to capture more imagery of this dramatic period in Timor’s modern history.

The original (employer-owned) negatives of his first visit were reportedly discarded in a Darwin office clean out. Fortunately, the negatives from his later private trip survive in his hands.

Hannan has generously allowed CHART to digitise his negatives for archival purposes and to feature them here.

Bob Hannan after military skirmish at Batugade, September 1975

Atabae, Balibo, Batugade 1975

Bob Hannan’s ten rolls of black & white negative film include a few images from Dili, but are dominated by pictures of a journey to the troubled western border area.

In company with Australian Associated Press journalist, Rick Collins, and escorted by Fretilin soldiers, Hannan travelled to a major Falintil military base at Atabae. The contingent then travelled to Fretilin-held Balibo from where Hannan  (but not Collins) joined a Falintil patrol of Batugade where he recorded images from a skirmish with anti-Fretilin remnants.

Images from this journey were a feature of Jill Jolliffe’s 1978 book East Timor: Nationalism & Colonialism, but have not been widely seen since.

Identifying faces: Your help needed

Hannan’s photographs include memorable images of  personalities such as Fernando Carmo, Aquiles Soares, Rogerio Lobato and Cris Santos. Many other faces cannot be identified by Bob Hannan or CHART.

Please contact us if you can identify people or places in the images, or add information on the events pictured, so that data can be assigned to the images for future generations of East Timorese.

Comment directly on the online photographs (you have to sign up to Flickr), add a comment to this Blog post or email us at blog[at]

Important notes

1. Bob Hannan reserves his rights for any reproduction of these images. Requests for use of any images should be directed through CHART (Email: chart[at]

2. Captions are yet to be added to the images. This will occur as time permits and your data on people and other content is received.

3. About half of the images in Hannan’s collection are featured on Flickr. A set of ‘proof sheets’ of all 200+ images is in preparation and will be published here at a later date.

17 Responses to Bob Hannan: Photographs 1975

  1. Ernie Chamberlain says:

    Hi John,
    Bob Hannan’s photographs are excellent indeed ! As you know, I’ve just written a “bio” on Aquiles Freitas Soares – who, together with Francisco Ruas Hornay of Iliomar, was a principal “reacção”/ dissident and both were executed by Fretilin in the purge of late 1976. Aquiles’ father, Cosme, was a member of the Australian military’s Z Special Unit (Operation Cobra) – and died while a prisoner of the Japanese in Dili. I think that I have found a good photograph of Aquiles among Bob Hannan’s photos. If I wish to use the photograph, I will of course seek permission as I note the copyright requirements.
    Regards, Ernie Chamberlain

    • timorarchives says:

      Thanks Ernie.
      What I judge to be the best of the portraits of Aquiles has some damage or other artefact on the original negative.
      I will take some time to do some ‘digital fixing’ of the scanned negative if any requests are made for it’s use.
      John W

      • CF says:

        Aquiles had won a lot of respect for his military operations in Bobonaro in October-November 1975, and also for traditional reasons; he was of “royal” blood (Letemumu, Quelicai). He later formed the Comando da Luta Boru-Quere with himself as president. Arrested 28 October 1976 and executed in December 1976.

  2. Hi John,

    There are three people who I recognise. First on the left is Borja da Costa (the poet). Immediately after Borja da Costa is Helio Pina (Mau Kruma). At the top (head of the table), I think is Guido Valadares, but not quite sure because from distance he could be confused with Vicente Reis (Sahe). I hope other will identify.

    All the best,


    • timorarchives says:

      Thank you Estavao.
      Good to have Helio Pina / Mau Kruma named. Person at head of table looks to me like Fernando Carmo, but let us see what others say.
      John W.

  3. Joana Ruas says:

    Adorava poder ler, através destas maravilhosas imagens, o que os acontecimentos e as mortes nos ocultaram,sobretudo sabermos como eles eram, para que vivam na nossa memória e não apenas na mortalha da sua imensa coragem e generosidade.Aguardo pois pela
    legendagem destas notáveis imagens.Saúdo pois o esforço de John e de quantos contribuirem para a sua concretização

    • timorarchives says:

      Thank you Joana. [Perhaps some kind soul could offer a better translation of Joana’s reflections than the internet translators I rely on. John W]

  4. The priest in the photo is of Padre Martins, S.J. He is in dili.

  5. Hannan_R1_f26:
    1. On the left looks-like Nicolau Lobato
    2. Hannan_R10-F13 and F19 is Padre Jose Martins
    3. Hannan_R2_F37A is Aquiles Soares
    4. Hannan_R3_F17 is Aquiles Soares
    4. Hannan_R4_F06A is Aquiles Soares
    5. Hannan_R3_F36 is Aquiles Soares
    6. Hannan_R4_F14A first on the right is Aquiles Soares
    7. Hannan-R4_F21A first on the left maybe is Guido Valadores
    8. Hannan_R4_F11A last on the right maybe Guido Valadares
    9. Hannan-R9_F32A on the right is Rogerio Lobato
    10. Hannan_R9-F10A, the driver is Rogerio Lobato
    11. Hannan_R9_F14A, the driver is also Rogerio Lobato
    12. Hannan_R9_F26A, maybe is the Dili airporto, noe PR palace.


  6. Edward Rees says:

    Ernie, Would love to see the bio of Aquiles. Cheers, Edward

  7. Ernie Chamberlain says:

    Photo R9-F32A. Captured Indonesian soldier.
    I believe that he is Corporal Weli, from a regular ABRI infantry battalion – Yonif 317, who had been captured by Fretilin forces in the Bobonaro area in mid-September 1975 and was subsequently imprisoned in Dili. Corporal Weli (as “Sergeant Welly”) was summarily executed in Dili by a Fretilin cadre, Raúl Isaac, on 8 December 1975 –see footnote 945 in Faltering Steps: Independence Movements in East Timor, 3rd Edition, 2010.
    In response, to Edward Rees’ request above, I have emailed him a copy of the bio on Aquiles Freitas Soares.

  8. Estevao Cabral says:

    I guess, the bloke that Ernie is talking about (R9-F32A) is the bloke in the middle!


    • timorarchives says:

      Correct! Other people in image are Australian journalist Rick Collins (left) and Rogerio Lobato (right).

  9. maria henriques says:

    procuro isabel maria pereira marques, nasceu em atabae, foi criada com o sargento aquiles de freitas soares, agradeço quem tiver qualquer informação

  10. Sara Soares says:

    Hannan_R4-F11A right is Guido Soares. He was one of the deputy Ministers of Defence and became Chief of Staff of Falintil after the Invasion. He also appears in Hannan_R4-F14A and Hannan_R4-F21A. He died in the battle of Mindelo 1978 commanding the Second Shock Brigade. His older brother João Bosco Galucho Soares appears in Hannan_R4-F04A. He was the Central North Zone Commander and later the Political Commissar of Central North. He was captured and disappeared in 1979. They’ve been identified from the photos by their surviving sister in Dili and brother in Australia.

  11. Estevao Cabral says:

    To Maria Henriques,

    The window of Aquiles lives in Bemori, Dili. She might be able to tell you about the person you’re looking for.

    Good luck!


  12. Helio Pina says:

    The only man I recognize is my father Helio Pina. Very proud of him – he fight till the End with my mother…surrendering was not an option to him. Great pic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: