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Sandakan Memorial Park — Sabah — Malaysia

ANZAC Day service Australian Government Department of Veterans' Affairs Commemorations and War Graves

Snapshot

Service:

Anzac Day service

Date:

Saturday, 25 April, 2020

Time:

4.20am: Site opens to the public
5.10am: Latest public are asked to be seated
5.30am: Official Anzac Day Dawn service commences

Seating style:

Non-allocated seating will be provided for visitors attending the ceremony on a first-come, first-served basis with individual chairs on the grassed area

Venue:

Sandakan Memorial Park, Sabah, Malaysia

Weather:

Extremely hot humid tropical weather

Attendance Registration:

Please notify us of your attendance by emailing WarGraves@dva.gov.au so we can provide catering and notify you of any important updates, if required

Visa requirements:

Australian Passport holders — Check your visa requirements

Important notes:

 

Links to further information

Introduction

The Sandakan Memorial Park commemorates the death, between January and August 1945, of approximately 2400 Australian and British prisoners of war held by the Japanese in the Sandakan POW Camp, North Borneo.  The conditions in which they lived, the manner in which they were treated by their captors and the nature of their deaths, resulting from starvation, overwork, beatings and punishments concluded with more than 1000 sick and weak POWs being forced on to three brutal and arduous long marches.

In 1942 and 1943 the Japanese brought to Sandakan about 2700 Australian and British POWs, the great majority of whom had been captured at the surrender at Singapore in February 1942. They were used as a labour force to build a military airstrip. In late 1944, as the Allies advanced in the pacific, the airstrip was bombed and destroyed.  Early in 1945, the Japanese decided to move the POWs 260 kilometres west into the mountains to the small settlement of Ranua. On three forced marches between January and June approximately 500 prisoners died.  The remainder died at the Ranua and Sandakan Camps.

Of all those who had been alive in January 1945, by the end of August only six – all Australians – survived. Two of the six escaped into the jungle during the second march in June 1945. Assisted by local people, they were eventually picked up by Allied units. Another four escaped from Ranau in July and again, with the help of local people, were fed and hidden from the Japanese until the end of the war.

Those POWs whose bodies were recovered are buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission war cemetery at Labuan. Those who could not be identified, or who have no known grave, are commemorated on Memorials to the Missing at Labuan and Singapore.

Getting to Sandakan Memorial Park

The official Anzac Day Dawn Service in Sandakan is conducted by the Australian Government and is made possible with the assistance of the local communities of Sandakan. The Sandakan Memorial Park is located on the site of the Second World War Sandakan Prisoner of War Camp. The memorial park was built in the former grounds of the former Sandakan camp in the Malaysian state of Sabah. The site is dedicated as a memory for all prisoners in the camp who died during the Sandakan Death Marches, and to those died during a march to Ranua. The memorial park is located about 1.5km southwest of the Sandakan Airport.

As the Commemoration will be in the morning at an outdoor venue, it is important that you ensure you are prepared for the conditions experienced in April and the potential for wet weather. There is approximately a 300 metre walk from the front gate of the memorial to the Memorial Obelisk. This walk is via a boardwalk and pebblecrete paths with stairs, the paths can get very slippery in wet conditions, good walking shoes are recommended. A courtesy bus service will be available. Please see ‘Courtesy Bus registration’ below.

The Sandakan Memorial Park is a part of a Sabah Forestry Reserve. The weather in the Sabah region in April can be extremely hot (tropical weather). The Dawn Service is conducted outdoors and visitors are exposed to the elements, with limited sheltered areas. Tropical storms and downpours have been experienced at past services. Visitors should ensure they are appropriately equipped for hot, humid and wet weather. This includes the provision of bottled water and appropriate clothing. The surfaces at the Memorial Park can become slippery due to rain and humidity. It is advised that sensible footwear should be worn.

Limited medical support is provided at the Commemoration. Visitors should ensure to bring their own medication, including non-prescription pain relief medication as this is not available from authorities on site. The medical support provided is equipped for medical emergencies and is not designed to treat minor ailments.

Tour operators

If you are a tour operator and have not made contact with the department, please send your contact details to wargraves@dva.gov.au so that we can ensure you are provided updated information.

General information on what to expect and before you depart.

Traffic arrangements / Private Vehicles

The local Sandakan police manage all traffic arrangements outside the Memorial Park. The immediate street around the park is one way for the pre-and post-service period. There is very limited parking available at the park. Transport to and from the Sandakan Memorial Park are to be via attendees own arrangements.

Courtesy Bus registration

Those electing to use the courtesy bus service will be transported from the ‘Piazza’ behind the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel to Sandakan Memorial Park. Passengers will need to assemble in the Piazza by no later than 4.10am as the bus/es will depart will depart promptly at 4.20am. At the conclusion of the service the bus will return passengers to the pickup point, departing from the entrance to the Park at approximately 8.15am, following the complimentary gunfire breakfast provided at the conclusion of the dawn service.

You will need to reserve your seat for the courtesy bus by registering at the Four Points by Sheraton Reception, please note registrations will open on Wednesday 22 April and close 3.00pm Friday 24 April 2020.

Detailed Program of events

A complimentary gunfire breakfast will be provided by the Office of Australian War Graves at the conclusion of the Dawn Service. All attendees at the service are welcome to attend.

What to take with you

A small day pack or small bag may be useful containing the following;

  • Wet weather jacket
  • Insect Repellent
  • Bottled water
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat

What facilities are available at Sandakan memorial Park?

  • Visitor Information Centre
  • Interpretive Pavilion
  • Toilets
  • First Aid Services

Seating

Seating at the commemoration is not allocated or reserved (other than a limited area for Accessible Seating visitors who have registered) and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Some sections have restricted and/or indirect views of the Commemoration.

Please note, large groups might be unable to sit together. You should make sure that you have your guide’s details in case you are separated.

Mobility Assistance

Limited assistance will be available for visitors at the commemoration who have registered a health or accessibility requirement. Those requesting accessible seating are able to have one carer with them to provide assistance. Consideration may be given to accompanying guests. Unfortunately due to limited accessible seating, it is not possible to extend this service to others travelling with their groups.

Visitors attending the Dawn Service who are unable to stand are advised to contact Overseas Memorials at WarGraves@dva.gov.au or register by phone by calling 1800 555 254 before 1 April 2020.

Wheelchair transport to and from the Sandakan Memorial Park should be via your own arrangements.

Accessible seating exclusions

  • Personalised or dedicated one-to-one assistance.
  • The provision of carers, wheelchair pushers, or physical assistance with seating or embarking and disembarking vehicles.
  • Wheelchairs, walkers or mobility aids — any visitor requiring this assistance must bring their own.
  • Oxygen or personalised medications.
  • Specialised support for ‘high care’ individuals.
  • Support travelling to or from your accommodation.

Wreath-laying

Wreath-laying, by invited official representatives, will occur during the services.

Members of the public who wish to lay a wreath will have the opportunity to do so at the conclusion of the service. Individuals are to supply their own wreaths and it is their responsibility to carry it with them, care for it and transport it to the memorial park. There are no facilities or arrangements for storage or transport of personal wreaths at the memorial park.

Register to lay a wreath by emailing wargraves@dva.gov.au or call 1800 555 254.

Guides, apps and other event information

Sandakan Memorial Park

Explore the Sandakan Memorial Park online, with access to audio guides, interactive maps, images and historical information. You will step back in time, reliving the experiences of the Australian and British prisoners were interned by the Japanese Army. Visit the Sandakan Memorial Park page.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's (CWGC) war graves app provides information about the cemeteries around the world and allows you to search for the location of an individual’s war grave. Visit CWGC to download the app.

Contact information

The Sandakan Memorial Park, managed by the Office of Australian War Graves with the assistance of the Sabah Municipal Council and Sabah Forestry Department, is located at Mile 8, Jalan Labuk Utara, Taman Rimba, 90702 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia. Telephone: +60 89-275 400.

The Dawn Service is coordinated by the Australian Government and consular assistance for Australians in Sabah is provided through the Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
6 Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Telephone: +603 2146 5555

Department of Foreign Affairs - Emergency helpline
Consular Emergency Centre 24 Hour Phone Service:
Tel: 1300 555 135 with Australia (local call cost) or
Tel: +61 2 6261 3305 from outside Australia
SMS: +61 421 269 080

Department of Foreign Affairs, Canberra, Australia
R.G. Casey Building
John McEwan Crescent
Barton ACT 0221
Telephone: +61 2 6261 1111
Fax: +61 2 6261 3111

In Australia
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Office of Australian War Graves
Free call
Tel: 133 254
Regional callers: 1800 555 254
Email: wargraves@dva.gov.au

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