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Dora The Explorer
No Photos 2nd Nov 2006
Sandakan POW memorial - Death Marches

For all you historians out there you would have enjoyed visiting the Sandakan Memorial Centre giiven up to the POW's at the end of the 2nd World War .  ref

The Japanese are a brutal race arent they- not only do they severly torture the POWs so only 6 survive out of 2,500.. they also sustain the brutal shark -fin soup industry!  On a serious note though whats worrying according to our tour guide is that the japanese nation have only been told that they were slighty involved in the war against the allies. They have no idea what brutalities were bestowed onto the POWs. What history do they teach thier children in schools- is it one of those ' the holocaust never existed' lines?

After the fall of Singapore and Borneo to the Japanese, a Prisoner of War Camp was established just outside of Sandakan to house approximately 750 British and more than 1650 Australian prisoners who were sent to the camp during the period 1942-43. In 1945, when the Japanese started to realise that the war may have been lost, and the Allies were closing in, the emaciated prisoners were force marched, in three separate marches, to the village of Ranau in the jungle, 250 km away, under the shadows of Mount Kinabalu. 

On 28 January, 1945, 470 prisoners set off, with only 313 arriving in Ranau. On the second march, 570 started from Sandakan, but only 118 reached Ranau. 

The third march which comprised the last of the prisoners from the Sandakan camp contained 537 prisoners. Prisoners who were unable to walk were shot. The march route was through virgin jungle infested with crocodiles, snakes and wild pigs, and some of the prisoners had no boots. Rations were less than minimal. The march took nearly a year to complete.

Once the surviving prisoners arrived in Ranau, they were put to work carrying 20 kg sacks of flour over very hilly terrain to Paginatan, over 40 km away. By the end of July, 1945, there were no prisoners left in Ranau.

Only six Australians of the 2400 prisoners survived the "death march"  

- they survived because they were able to escape from the camp at Ranau, or escaped during the march from Sandakan. No British prisoners survived.

This part of the war is considered by many to be the worst atrocity ever suffered by Australian soldiers,  

and compares to the atrocities of the Burma Railway, where fewer Australian POW's lost their lives.

Those that survived the ordeal of the march, did so only because they escaped into the jungle where they were cared for by local natives.

An Australian Memorial honouring the survivors, POW's, local civilians who helped by clandestinely feeding the prisoners, and soldiers who perished at Sandakan and during the death marches into the jungle, has been erected at what was the Prisoner of War Camp in Taman Rimba close to the city of Sandakan. There are just a couple of rusting bits of machinery around, and the place has an eerie air about it.

The Sandakan Prisoner of War Camp has now been transformed into a very beautiful park with a pavilion on site which houses the history of this very tragic period.

Thier are tours over here whereby you can actually walk the 'death marches' through the jungle inflicted by the Japs.  On a perverse note I think this would be great to do.

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