BRISBANE – One of the unusual colonial laws of Papua New Guinea when it was an Australian territory was the so-called Dog Act.
Under the Dog Act a magistrate could order that people with an alcohol problem could have their name and photograph posted at all local hotels and clubs for a year.
During that time any premises that served that person alcohol would be fined.
And if a person had been under the Dog Act three times, he was to be deported from the Territory.
So let me introduce Stewart (Stewy) Brown, a man of short stature and big deeds. Stewy had an amazing record as an officer in World War II who had twice escaped from the Germans and been mentioned in dispatches twice.
He arrived in Rabaul about 1955 to run the RSL Club and not long after that he was managing a copra plantation on New Ireland and later on the Sepik River shooting crocodiles for their skins.
Around 1958 my Dad, Bob Parer, was in Wewak on his way home to East Brisbane when the policemaster, as the head of the local Constabulary was called, told him that Stewy Brown had been put under the Dog Act for the third time and was to be deported.
Dad knew Stewy and arranged for him to go to Aitape and stay with me. There was nowhere to buy alcohol at Aitape, so he would be removed from temptation.
When I went to meet the Gibbs Sepik Airways Norseman on its Friday run, a short chap came up to me, introduced himself as Stewart Brown and handed me a note from Dad.
It stated that I was to find a job for Stewy and that he was not to drink alcohol.
We had just purchased 300 acres of jungle from the Catholic Mission just across the Raihu River from the leprosarium, so I had plenty of work on.
I showed Stewy the place and, as he was good with a compass, I asked him to subdivide the jungle into 16 blocks.
I was so lucky. Stewy was a delightful person to live with and our plantation staff loved him too.
Medical Assistant Frank Neville and his wife Grace often invited us to their place and Stewy would have a few beers but caused no trouble.
When Dad returned after a year or so, he found Stewy going well. He was he also doing book keeping for us.
His story was that after the war, he lived in India in charge of a district. He’d learned a lot about Indian cooking and showed me to prepare a few dishes.
Sadly, after two years in Aitape and Angoram, he developed tuberculosis and was admitted to the Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital in Brisbane.
I enjoyed visiting him there and met some of the men who had served under him during the war.
They took me aside and told me some of the amazing stories of his wartime feats. They admired him and said they would follow him through any danger
The next time I was in Brisbane and went to visit him, I was told he had died.
I was so upset. He was one of the finest guys I have ever known. And I do not even have a photo of him.
I hope someone from Angoram remembers him. Stuart Brown - a Gentleman and Scholar of the highest order.