Friday, October 14, 2016


The funeral service   for  Bas  Wie , centre of a refugee story which  captivated  the nation and  England ,  will  take place in  Darwin's  Saint Mary's Star of the  Sea Cathedral on  Wednesday.   In  1947 , Bas , a  12 year old  orphan ,   having  experienced the Japanese  occupation  and  treated  kindly by  Australian  soldiers during  the war ,  stowed away  in the  wheel  nacelle of  a  Royal  Dutch Air Force  DC 3   about to  make  a  flight  from  Koepang  ( now Kupang ) ,   Dutch   Timor , to Darwin .  Scorched  by the plane's  exhaust and  frozen by  the  cold air  during the  flight , he  was  found  in  a bad  way , eyes rolling ,  inside the wheel  well  soon after  the  landing . 

In  hospital for three months, he faced deportation on his release , but the Administrator of  the Northern  Territory , Arthur  Driver,  took him in and  raised  him  with his  own  family in  Government House .

Darwin based  Melbourne Herald journalist Douglas Lockwood in 1957 won the London Evening  News award for the world's strangest story  which was about  Bas  Wie .

 Little Darwin previously  reported  that  Bas  and  young  Mike   Driver , who became a journalist ,  used   to  ride out  from  Government House with  rifles  to  shoot wallabies . At  times , they  took turns to  shelter in  a  wartime  pill box  while  the other  fired  a  shot or two  at  it . Coming  home late  one afternoon  from such an  exciting  outing, they were stopped  by police , taken  to  the police station , and  Administrator  Driver , also in charge of  the   NT Police Force ,  informed .  Taken home by car , Mike said  his  father delivered a strong  verbal  kick  up  the  derriere . When Administrator  Driver left Darwin to take up a new post in Italy,  Bas  remained  in  Darwin  with  another  family .

At  the age of 70 , Bas was a  VIP guest on an  inaugural airline service  between  Darwin  and  Kupang .  Well  liked  and respected, he helped people with   alcohol  related  problems  and  eventually  suffered dementia. Many documents relating  to  the Bas Wie  episode  are  held  in  the  National Archives , Canberra.