Sandakan: the untold story of the Sandakan death marches
After the fall of Singapore in February 1942, the Japanese conquerors transferred 2500 British and Australian prisoners to a jungle camp on the east coast of North Borneo. For decades after the Second World War, the Australian and British governments refused to divulge the truth of what happened there, for fear of traumatising the families of the victims and enraging the people.
The prisoners were broken, beaten, worked to death, thrown into bamboo cages on the slightest pretext, starved and subjected to tortures so hideous that none survived the onslaught with their minds intact, and only an incredibly resilient few managed to withstand the pain without yielding to the hated Kempei-tai, the Japanese military police.
This was only the beginning. In late 1944, Allied aircraft were attacking the coastal towns of Sandakan and Jesselton. To escape the bombardment, the Japanese abandoned the Sandakan prison camp and moved 250 miles inland to Ranau, taking the prisoners with them as slave labour, carriers and draught horses. Their journey became known as the Sandakan Death Marches. Of the 2700 prisoners , only six – all of them Australians survived. This harrowing book narrates the full story of Sandakan. Paul Ham has interviewed the families of survivors and the deceased, in Australia, Britain and Borneo, and consulted thousands of court documents in an effort to piece together exactly what happened to the people who suffered and died in British North Borneo.
Soft cover, photographs, 656 pages.