Ronald 'Keith' Monro 1907 - 1945

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Lieutenant Ronald K. Monro (Image courtesy Australian War Memorial)
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The mascot of a cookhouse at the 9th Australian division, a puppy dog, being dried after his bath, in preparation for the visit of general Douglas Macarthur, Commander in Chief, Allied Land Forces, South West Pacific Area. (Courtesy Australian War Memorial. Click on image to enlarge)

Lieutenant Ronald Keith Monro, of Caulfield, Melbourne was one of Australia's most gifted photographers of wild life. Born in Western Australia, Monro came from Perth to Melbourne in 1933 and was employed on the photographic staffs of the Herald and the Sun News-Pictorial. He specialised in studies of bird and animal life, pioneering flashlight photography of owls and hawks by night, and opening up a new field of study in the feeding habits of nocturnal birds. He was an early environmental advocate; early in 1944, when it was found that the koalas on Quail Island in Westernport Bay had multiplied and eaten all available food, he successfully campaigned for their removal to the mainland.

Keith Monro enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) early in 1940 and was appointed official photographer to the 1st Australian Corps soon after arrival in the Middle East. After his return to Australia in 1942 he served in Darwin, and then was commissioned to take charge of the photographic section of the military history unit in Melbourne.

Monro died suddenly of illness in the Heidelberg Military Hospital in July 1945, leaving a widow and a son. At the time, a collection of his pictorial studies was being made ready for press and was published posthumously by Robertson and Mullens Ltd., under the title of "Australian Nature Stories." According to one reviewer, the volume was beautifully presented and showed Monro to be ‘something more than a good photographer’.