Large rosary crucifix: Sandakan Prisoner of War camp

Unit 9 Military History Field Team
Accession Number REL/02028.006
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Aluminium; Metal
Location Main Bld: World War 2 Gallery: Gallery 4: Borneo
Maker Unknown
Date made pre 1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

One large metal crucifix with a short length of rusted metal chain with beads. It has the figure of Jesus upon it and would originally have been attached to a set of rosary beads.

History / Summary

In 1942 Australian and allied prisoners were sent to Sandakan on the northern coast of British North Borneo to build an airstrip. By 1944 conditions at the camp had deteriorated, with reduced rations and increased brutality. In January and July 1945 the Japanese sent 2000 Australian and British prisoners on a 260 km forced march along jungle tracks to Ranau. Those too sick to move were left in camp to die. A large number of prisoners died along the route or were killed if they fell behind. Most others died in the terrible conditions at Ranau and by the end of the war only six soldiers of the 2500 prisoners originally held at Sandakan had survived. Soon after the war 9 Military History Field Team went to Sandakan to gather historical evidence of the experiences of the prisoners. These crucifixes were among the artifacts recovered. The identity of their owners is not known.