Sandakan Memorial Park

posted in: Attractions, Borneo, Nature | 0

Now don’t be too upset, but for some reason at this point my camera decided not too record any pictures I have taken. Yet, I’m sure you can bear with me despite the lack of pictures.

Sandakan Memorial Park

So after all the wildlife, it was time for some sightseeing. My next stop was Sandakan Memorial Park, which I had a bit of trouble finding with buses. What ever would have I done without the help of locals?

While this is set in a beautifully landscaped park, it does little to ease the chill created by the horrifying accounts of the treatment of British and Australian POWs at the hands of the Japanese between January and August 1945. These prisoners had been captured during the Battle of Singapore in 1942 and had been relocated to Borneo to work on an airstrip. Conditions were very poor for them with scarce rations and medical attention as well as general mistreatment.

I had never heard of the Death Marches until my visit here. These series of three forced marches took the prisoners from Sandakan to Ranau. In total, 2,345 prisoner died during these ordeals. It is believed that all remaining prisoners were shot about 6 days after the actual end of the war. However, six Australians managed to escape and survive – four of them long enough to give testimonies in front of tribunal. Their escape would probably not have been possible without the help of the Bornean Resistance and the Filipino guerrillas. The resistance fighters of North Borneo seems to be an overlooked subject, but you can read a bit about it here.

Reading these testimonies and looking at the honor roll was the most disturbing part of it all and even the beauty of the park can’t really warm you up after learning all of this. 

Six Survivors
Left to right, starting from the top: Lance Bombardier William ‘Bill’ Moxham, Gunner Owen Campbell, 
Bombardier Richard ‘Dick’ Braithwaite, Private Nelson Short, Warrant Officer Hector
‘Bill’ Sticpewich, and Private Keith Botterill

You can always read up more on the actual fact on Wikipedia, but I recommend this article and this one as well for a more personal account. If you are really interested, you can also read a longer account here.

As I final note, I do wonder why allied forces bombed the camp when it was clearly indicated that there were POWs stationed there?

between January and August 1945.

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