Samuel Jacob and the Question of War Heroes

  • Paul Thomas (Contributor)

Activity: Community Talks, Presentations, Exhibitions and EventsPublic lecture/debate/seminar


Herb Feith Indonesian Engagement Centre Seminar Series

Samuel Jacob and his family arrived in Darwin in 1942 having escaped the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies, present day Indonesia. An educated Indonesian fluent in Malay, Dutch and local languages, he was quickly identified as a valuable asset for the War effort and taken to Melbourne, the centre of intelligence activities for the Australian and Dutch forces. There he taught languages, worked as a journalist and broadcaster, undertook training as a colonial civil servant and served on intelligence missions into the eastern archipelago. It was while participating on one of these missions that he would lose his life leaving behind his wife and children in Melbourne. This seminar presents an overview of Jacob’s biography in the context of Indonesians’ contribution to the Allied war effort in the Pacific. As a civilian and an Indonesian, Jacob and those like him, are at risk of being viewed as marginal in terms of the broader Allied history of the War. His cooperation with the Dutch makes his contribution problematic for his compatriots in Indonesia and ultimately their efforts are overshadowed by Indonesians’ fight for their independence. Whether Indonesians such as Jacob can find a place in the heroic narratives of Australia or Indonesia is a question influenced by changing interpretations of their relationship with the Allies, evolving national identities and a greater understanding of the individual’s achievements and sacrifice.
Period12 Sept 2019
Event titleSamuel Jacob and the Question of War Heroes
Event typeSeminar
LocationMelbourne, Australia, VictoriaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • Australian history
  • Indonesian History
  • Translation Studies
  • Indonesian
  • World War 2