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Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

Anzac Day Dawn Service

Sandakan Memorial Park, Malaysia

Anzac Day Service

Service: Anzac Day Dawn Service
Date: Thursday, 25 April 2019

4:20am: Site opens to the public
5:10am: Public are asked to be seated by
5:30am: 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 and humid tropical weather
Attendance registration:

To assist in the planning and delivery of this service, all visitors and Associations, Tour / Educational Groups attending the service are encouraged to complete the Attendance Registration Form and submit it to the Office of Australian War Graves to or register by calling the DVA General Enquires line 1800 555 254

General Public attendance

Associations – Tour – Educational Groups attendance

Visa requirements: Australian Passport holders — Check your visa requirements
Security: TBA
Important Notes: TBA



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.

Sandakan Memorial Park – What to expect

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 service will be held at the Sandakan Memorial Park on Thursday, 25 April 2019, commencing at 5:30am.

The Sandakan Memorial Park is located on the site of the Second World War Sandakan Prisoner of War Camp and was built in the former grounds of the Sandakan camp in the Malaysian state of Sabah. The Sandakan Memorial Park is a part of a Sabah Forestry Reserve. The site is dedicated as a memory for all prisoners in the camp who died during the Sandakan Death Marches, and to those who died during a march to Ranua.

The memorial park is located about 1.5km southwest of the Sandakan Airport. There is approximately a 300m walk from the front gate of the memorial to the Memorial Obelisk. This walk is along a boardwalk and pebble-crete paths with stairs, the walking surfaces can become very slippery in wet conditions, sensible walking shoes are recommended.

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 potentially wet weather. This includes bringing bottled water and appropriate clothing.

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.

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

Traffic arrangements

The local Sandakan police manage all traffic arrangements outside the Memorial Park. The immediate street around the park will be a one way entry and exit for the pre-service and post-service duration. There is very limited car parking available at the park.

Attendees are responsible for their own travel arrangements to and from Sandakan Memorial Park. No public transport will be provided.

Tour operators

Tour operators are advised to send their contact details to so that updated information can be provided.


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. There is a possibility large groups may not be seated together.

Accessible seating

Limited assistance will be available for visitors at the commemoration who have registered a health or accessibility requirement. Evidence from your General Practitioner may be requested to support your registration. 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, please send your contact details.

Visitors attending the Dawn Service who are unable to stand for long periods of time are advised to contact Overseas Memorials at or register by calling the DVA General Enquiries line on 1800 555 254 before 1 April 2019.

There is no wheelchair transport provided to and from the Sandakan Memorial Park.

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 from 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 appropriate time during the service. Those members of the public who wish to lay a wreath/tribute it is essential that you please complete the private wreath/floral tribute registration form and submit this to or register by calling the DVA General Enquiries line on 1800 555 254.

Members of the public who are laying a wreath/tribute are to supply their own and it is their responsibility to carry it with them, care for it and transport it to the Memorial. There are no facilities or arrangements for storage or transport of personal wreaths at the Memorial.

Registration Form

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. Take a step back in time, reliving the experiences of the Australian and British prisoners were interned by the Japanese Army.

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.

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
Phone: +603 2146 5555

Department of Foreign Affairs – Emergency helpline

Consular emergency centre 24-hour phone service:

  • Within Australia, phone: 1300 555 135 (local call cost) or
  • Outside Australia, phone: +61 2 6261 3305
  • SMS, text: +61 421 269 080

Department of Foreign Affairs, Canberra, Australia

R.G. Casey Building
John McEwan Crescent
Barton ACT 0221
Phone: +61 2 6261 1111

In Australia

Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Office of Australian War Graves


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