Lest we forget
Published/Last edited or updated: 13th November, 2016
On the site of a World War II prisoner of war camp, Sandakan Memorial Park is dedicated to those who lost their lives here in the camp, on the infamous “Sandakan Death Marches” and at Ranau, where the marches ended. The memorial also commemorates the local heroes of the underground resistance movement. It's a beautiful place, with a terrible history.
A small museum explains the history with poignant personal stories of the unfathomable conditions and of how 2,428 British and Australian servicemen perished on the forced 265 kilometre marches through the muddy jungles. There were only six survivors to tell the tale.
The beautifully landscaped gardens and ponds are a moving remembrance and offer a moment of quiet contemplation. Maps and signboards mark a few remaining rusty relics and the layout of the former camp. Today the peaceful park seems a far cry from the atrocities that took place here and is popular with local joggers.
Markers around the park indicate points for a future audio tour. Check at the office to see if it’s been completed when you visit. If Kinabalu Park is on your itinerary, you can also visit Kundasang War Memorial, near Ranau, the end point of the marches. It’s also possible to do trekking tours that follow the route of the death marches.
Sandakan Memorial Park is 12 kilometres from central Sandakan. A taxi from town is 30 ringgit one way. The park is not far from the airport, and an easy stop on the way to or from there.
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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