Samuel Jacob, born in Ambon was a headmaster in Merauke, Dutch New Guinea a job he combined with being a local civil administrator. Together with his family he was evacuated in August 1942 to Australia. Here he worked with the NEI government-in-exile for the re-building of Indonesia after the war.

Samuel went back to Merauke in 1944 for a reconnaissance visit but on the way back his plane crashed near Mossman in Queensland. The wreck was not found until 1989. The 18 victims were buried with full military honours at the War Cemetery of Cairn on 28 July 1989.

Dutch relatives were flown over to Sydney from where they were taken by a military Hercules plane to Cairns. At that time, I was a radio correspondent for the Dutch broadcaster Veronica and I was asked to do a report on the ceremony, so I was present when Samuel (among the others) was honoured on that day; at that time totally unaware of the history that I have now written in which he plays a role.

Samuel and his family while having the Dutch nationality, were all born in Ambon. Under the White Australian Policy, it had been negotiated with the Dutch Government that all ‘Indonesians’ (non-whites) who fled to Australia would go back after the war.

However, Samuel’s wife Annie and their seven children had settled in Melbourne and the kids were among the best pupils of their school and the family therefore wanted to stay in Australia.

The Family O’Keefe

She had – after the death of her husband – married her landlord, John O’Keefe an Australian, however the Australian government wanted her and her family to leave. This became a political issue as the community around her as well as the national press got behind her, and eventually a High Court ruling allowed her to stay, this case became the first crack in the White Australian Policy, while over subsequent years watered down considerably it was only officially repealed in 1973.

Paul Budde (2021)

More information:

White Australia Policy and the Indonesian war refugees

The case of Mrs O’Keefe – A watershed for white Australia