If you have missed the LIVE session on 15 August 2022 , you can still catch the full recorded talk here.

Due to the current pandemic, the live event on site could not be proceed. Nevertheless in this important event, we bring to you a talk session to tell of stories. Lest We Forget.


Almost 2500 Australian and British prisoners of war were held in a camp at Sandakan during World War 2. Almost all perished by 1945, which is 1400 at Sandakan and the remainder on death marches or at Ranau, in Sabah’s interior. At war’s end, six Australians, who escaped and were cared for by villagers, were the sole survivors. No one survived at Sandakan. The last man left alive at the camp was beheaded on the morning of 15 August, five hours before Japan surrendered.

Sandakan Day Memorial 2020

Video produced and contributed by Dr Arthur Chung

Sandakan and the Death Marches

During 1942-43, the Allied prisoners of war were transferred to Sandakan from Singapore by the Japanese to build a military airstrip. They were imprisoned at a camp near Mile 8, now the site of the Sandakan Memorial Park.

Between January and June 1945, more than 1000 malnourished POWs were force-marched to Ranau, 260 kilometres from Sandakan. About half died on the way, killed by the effects of the mountainous jungle terrain, tropical illnesses, malnutrition and brutal treatment by their guards. Anyone who could not keep up was killed. Those who survived this gruelling ordeal succumbed to starvation and illness at the destination camps. Sandakan’s 1400 remaining prisoners, too weak or ill to be moved, died at the camp in appalling conditions.

Local people, who remained loyal to the Allied cause, also suffered terribly. Many were executed. It is estimated that 14 per cent of Sabah’s population died under Japanese rule, from starvation and brutal treatment.

On 15 August 2020, the 75th anniversary of the end of World War 2, we invite you to tune into a live streaming of a simplified service, to remember all those who suffered and died.

Lest We Forget.

Stories / Articles


Madam Noredah Othman/GM Sabah Tourism Board
Despite what we are going through today, we adapt for this tradition of the Sandakan Day Memorial to be kept alive to honor those who lost their lives in the ordeal and those who showed compassion and kindness to help and care for the POWs and survivors. May this memorial inspire us to presevere through this season together. Madam Noredah Othman/GM Sabah Tourism Board
Chris Parry
Lately I’ve found myself thinking a lot about how brave the local Sabahans were during WWII. For the 75th Anniversary of the Sandakan events, I choose to remember the locals who struggled and suffered while risking their lives to help Prisoners of War from faraway lands. Lest We Forget. Chris Parry
Major John SM Tulloch MBE
‘Sandakan Day is a very significant day of commemoration and remembrance. Thank you Sabah for keeping the flame of history and remembrance burning’ Major John SM Tulloch MBE
Bill and Annette Merchant

Remembering those who suffered so much during those terrible years. We sincerely hope the spirit of The POW’s and their native “helpmates” dwell in peace “ Below The Clouds of North Borneo”. Bill Merchant

One very special memory I have of Sandakan Memorial Day is Mr. Gordon Ellice-Flint, a Sandakan POW singing “Going Home”. Annette Merchant

Lynette Silver
Today we remember the sacrifice and suffering of all those who died, but let us also celebrate their priceless legacy - the enduring friendship between Sabahans and Australians, forged during a time of great adversity. Lynette Silver
Catherin Chua AM
Remembering all those who gave the ultimate sacrifices in Sandakan and Ranau, so that we all can have a better future. Lest We Forget. Catherin Chua AM
Sharon Sivilin and Borneo Passages Team
Sending warm wishes to all the families of the Australian and British prisoners of war who made the greatest sacrifice for us. Lest we forget! Sharon Sivilin and Borneo Passages Team
Lt Gen Sir Andrew Gregory KBE CB DL, Master Gunner St James’s Park
The Royal Regiment of Artillery thanks Sabah and all Sabahans for continuing to remember the 475 members of our Regiment and around 44,350 Sabahans who perished due to Japanese captivity and occupation during and after World War II. Lt Gen Sir Andrew Gregory KBE CB DL, Master Gunner St James’s Park
Judith and Rodney Bramich OAM, Ex 22nd Construction Squadron Borneo 1966
We share our intense disappointment and sadness to be absent from the 2020 Sandakan Memorial Service commemorating 75 years since the end of Second World War. Sincere regards until we meet again. Judith and Rodney Bramich OAM, Ex 22nd Construction Squadron Borneo 1966
Roger Allen, Brother of Private Stephen James Allen NX 49447 NSW Australia
Today my thoughts are with the heroic Allied Prisoners who suffered at Sandakan and on the Death Marches Roger Allen, Brother of Private Stephen James Allen NX 49447 NSW Australia
Connie Lupang and Tom Ciesniewski
They suffered and sacrificed their lives. Yet new inhumane regimes are rising around the world. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” Lest we forget. Connie Lupang and Tom Ciesniewski
Kerry Pedlar
I walked the “Sandakan Death March” in memory of my 2nd cousin ‘Edwin John Keith Orr’ in October, 2019. I wear his original medals with pride. “LEST WE FORGET” Kerry Pedlar
Stella Lagan
Sandakan, land of the free because of the brave, remembers those who sacrificed their lives. Today, Ernesto Lagan and other local heroes are remembered. Lest We Forget Stella Lagan
Bobby Alex
Laying one’s life so others may live is beyond noble. Let us continue to remember the sacrifices of the soldiers and the local Sabahans. Lest we forget. Bobby Alex
Datuk and Datin Alex Khoo
The Commemoration of Sandakan Day has a different format this year. But our spirit remains strong as ever. With dignity, solemnity and silent grief, we remember and honour them, who had made their ultimate sacrifice so that we may have peace Datuk and Datin Alex Khoo with Australia Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, CVO, MC on 15 August 2015 at Sandakan Memorial Park
Datuk Irene Charuruks
During WW2, Australian & British POWs suffered and died on the Sandakan-Ranau Death Marches. Albert Kwok and 324 Local Resistance were brutally beheaded and massacred at dawn in Petagas on 21 January 1944. May their Souls Rest in Peace. Datuk Irene Benggon-Charuruks
Steve Mockridge
My Dad, LAC Leslie Mockridge, RAF, was one of only two British rank to survive Sandakan. He was moved from Sandakan to Kuching as Dad knew about the radio. Because of this he was put in the British officers’ compound where he survived. Steve Mockridge
Gwenda Zappala

It was indeed my great privilege as The Australian Representative of Sabah Tourism Board to escort many FAMILY MEMBERS, FRIENDS of SANDAKAN FAMILIES, AUSTRALIAN MEDIA and HISTORIANS to SANDAKAN for ANZAC and SANDAKAN DAY SERVICES.

In 2015 A replica of SANDAKAN MELBOURNE CUP and the MELBOURNE CUP 2015 visited Sabah in conjunction with former POW Bunny Glover completing a unique Sandakan Day Service.

Many thanks for the privilege and the memories I will carry with me always Gwenda Zappala

Mick J. Smith

"In these uncertain times we are forced to come together, spiritually, to commemorate Sandakan Day, the hardships and tragedies of war.

To honour and pay homage to FAMILY, FRIENDS and MATES who did not come home.

Forever in our hearts, never to be forgotten.

LEST WE FORGET". Mick J. Smith

Michael Glover

My father, Leslie Bunn Glover transferred to the AIF in February 1941. A year later he was fighting as Singapore fell in WWII.

Bunny, as he was affectionately known, was transferred to Sandakan in ‘B’ Force. Then part of the few prisoners transferred to Kuching after 17 months at the POW Camp.

I returned to the Camp with him in 2008, his first successful trip back and an emotional one, to visit a place of memories (mostly bad, some good).

He was the last surviving Sandakan POW from Queensland and returned a few times to thank the Sabahans. Michael Glover

Captain Jonathan James
The 75th anniversary of the infamous Sandakan to Ranau Death March and indeed World War Two is one which stirs many emotions for myself. The depravity of the atrocities carried out by Japanese Forces mixed with the virtuous act and honour of being a member of the first British Marching contingent during Sabah Salute in 2011, an achievement I hope to repeat this in 2021 on Sabah Ubique Captain Jonathan James
Tham Yau Kong

2020 sees the 75th years of Sandakan Ranau Death March commemoration in which the route was traced and first walked through in August 2005 after the Sandakan Day ceremony; that was the 60th year of commemoration. Historically a breakthrough, the route was walked through also by the present Australia Prime Minister MP, Mr Scott Morrison, in 2011 with his friends; the former Minister of Defence MP Mr Jason Clare and Independent MP Mr Robert Oakshott. In this 75th year of commemoration, let’s remember the spirits of the fallen soldier- be them the Australians or British.


Tham Kim Leng

2020 is the 75th commemoration of Sandakan Ranau death marches. Remembering in the year of 2016 when I first walked the whole track from Sandakan to Ranau, I learnt so much history and actually “felt” what the POWs had gone through back then and I was overcome with sad and painful emotion. It was an unforgettable experience for me and I wish more people get to know that we have such history that happened here in Sabah.

"LEST WE FORGET" Tham Kim Leng

Datuk Mike Steel

I was a member of the Commonwealth Brigade called ANZUK force in Singapore in the mid 1970s.

Hence, I am very interested in Sabah\'s WWII history & attended many services at Sandakan Memorial Park.

We will remember them all - the British, Australian & Sabahan - all played their parts. Datuk Mike Steel

Nicholas Falconer
"I think when it all comes down to it we must always remember the atrocities that happened here in Sandakan but also continue to learn more about the healing processes that help create forgiveness." Nicholas Falconer
Ryan Rowland ABS(H)
"The Borneo Ode adopted by the WA Sandakan POW Relatives, taken from Dame Mary Gilmour’s Poem A Passionate Heart...They are not dead, not even broken, only their dust has gone back home to the earth, for they, the essential they, shall have re-birth, whenever a word of them is spoken. Lest We Forget." Ryan Rowland ABS (H)
Ryan Rowland ABS (H), Chairman of Borneo Exhibition Group Inc. WA
On behalf of all the Students Delegates selected through The Anzac Awards Program, Partnership with Australia, Sabah & Sarawak Schools, we have been privileged to \'walk in their footsteps\' to pay homage, remember all the forgotten local heroes, to keep the Spirit of Sandakan alive. Always Remembered! Ryan Rowland ABS (H), Chairman of Borneo Exhibition Group Inc. WA
Irene Johnny

Blessed 75th Anniversary of the Sandakan Death March.

Thank you for your sacrifice..

Thank you for our freedom...

Irene Johnny

Video produced and contributed by Dr Arthur Chung.

"Going Home" sung by Robert Gordon Ellice-Flint of 8th Division 2nd Australian Imperial Force Sandakan - Kuching Prisoner of War camp. Video produced and contributed by Mr Peter Kue.