In Search of Recognition - The Leo Stach Story A biographical account of extraordinary events in the career of Leo W.Stach, an expatriate geologist, during war and peace in the Western Pacific region, based on official documents as well as personal written records, together with his recollections, as narrated to the author, Kerry B. Collison, during a series of recorded interviews from December 1996 to June 1997.
Sid Harta Publishers
Jakarta Expatriates site
A gifted child, Leo was born in Melbourne to a first generation Australian family of German extraction, at a time when the European conflict spread, creating economic hardship for all.
When the Great War finally ended and, under the watchful eyes of his mother and a doting Aunt Hilda, Leo excelled at school, winning scholarships as his academic achievements multiplied. He was a lonely child, neglecting sports in favour of his studies, accepting that he would be unable to attend high school or university without the benefit of scholarships.
It was these difficult times which moulded Leo's appreciation for security, often in later life misinterpreted by his peers as meanness. For Leo, a penny was a penny and he decided at an early age to ensure that he would never be without, again.
Whilst still in his teens, Leo W. Stach was admitted into the prestigious Royal Society of Victoria. Recruited by Australian oil interests, Leo assisted with the first oil drilling programs ever to be undertaken in New Guinea after which, he was recruited by General Douglas MacArthur to accompany American Intelligence teams during the long battle through the West Pacific, and on to Japan. He served the Allied Forces with considerable distinction and was amongst the first hundreds to land amongst heavy enemy fire on the beaches of Balikpapan in Indonesian Borneo. He assisted carve airfields and roads through the treacherous jungles collecting and collating landing intelligence as a member of General MacArthur’s team. Leo was an unsung hero; he never boasted of his war exploits and even in his twilight years, recounted his incredible story with humility. Leo’s obvious dedication and expertise was not lost on General MacArthur. The American Forces took him to Tokyo where he played a pivotal role in assisting with the rehabilitation of that country’s devastated oil industry. Leo was engaged by the United Nations which resulted in his moving to Taiwan where he firmly placed his stamp on the emerging oil and gas industry. It was during these years that Leo became actively involved in the Australian oil industry, pegging out his own exploration lease in Torquay and advising West Australian interests during annual breaks from the Orient. He was appointed Chief of Mineral Resources with the United Nations Development Program. It was during this time that Leo’s contribution to the oil and gas industry was recognized, his works published on no fewer than fifty occasions as the accolades continued to flow. However, many of Leo Stach’s other achievements remain unknown. In 1974 he was secretly flown into Saigon by the American Forces to examine South Vietnam’s oil and gas potential. Most of his earlier work remains locked in American military archives. His records will show that Japan’s most senior Shogun held Leo in high esteem, his communications with the famed novelist James A. Michener and the photographs of our frail-framed Australian hero standing beside General Douglas MacArthur on the beaches of Balikpapan, speak silently of his colourful life.
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