Published: Tue 28 May 2013

The Australian War Memorial will be hosting the annual National Sandakan Remembrance Day wreathlaying ceremony in conjunction with the Sandakan Prisoner of War Families and National Malaya and Borneo Veterans Association of Australia.

The ceremony will commemorate the courage and sacrifice of all those who lost their lives in Sandakan, and the six Australians who survived the death marches of Sandakan and Ranau during the Second World War.

In 1942, the Japanese sent their prisoners of war to Sandakan to build an airstrip. Initially they were treated reasonably well, but gradually rations were reduced and physical abuse increased.

By late 1944, with Allied forces advancing toward Borneo, the Japanese sent approximately 2,000 Australian and British prisoners of war westward to Ranau, in Borneo’s rugged interior. 

Weak and sick prisoners staggered for over 260 kilometres along jungle tracks. Many died on the way, their bodies never recovered. Those unable to continue were killed; those too weak to march had been left behind in Sandakan, where all died or were killed. Only six – all Australians – out of approximately one thousand sent to Ranau, survived the war.

The Sandakan “death march” remains the greatest single war atrocity committed against Australians.



  • Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial (welcome guests)
  • Lieutenant General David Morrison AO, Chief of Army (lay a wreath)
  • Mr Ian Davenport, President of the National Malaya and Borneo Veterans Association of Australia (lay a wreath, thanks and farewell). Available for interview prior to ceremony, phone 0427 225 670


  • 2.00 – 2.30 pm, Wednesday 29 May 2013


    • Sandakan Memorial, Sculpture Garden, Australian War Memorial
    • Please enter via rear security



    Moj Nozhat                 (02) 6243 4575               0409 600 038     

    Marylou Pooley            (02) 6243 4383               0412 646 298