Keith Botterill

‘The first seven days got no food, no water for the first three days and then they force you to drink till you were sick.’

9 July 2020

Today we remember Keith Botterill, one of just six survivors of the Sandakan Death March. He recalls one of the cruellest forms of torture that the Japanese employed was something called ‘the cage’.

Keith Botterill — The first seven days got no food, no water for the first three days and then they force you to drink till you were sick.

Keith Botterill audio file (MP4 23.94 MB)

Keith Botterill audio script

75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War

Audio actuality

“Fellow Citizens, the War is over” — (The Hon J B Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia)

On the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War, Australia remembers Keith Botterill, one of just six survivors of the infamous Sandakan Death March, during which some 2,500 prisoners of war were systematically killed.

One of the cruellest forms of torture the Japanese employed was something called ‘the cage’.

Standing just a metre high, and not much bigger in length or width, men were imprisoned in it for days at a time.

Keith described the horror of this punishment.

Keith Botterill

The first seven days we got no food … no water for the first three days, and then they force you to drink till you were sick. On the seventh evening they started feeding you … half camp rations. Every evening you would get a bashing; hit with sticks and fists and kicking.

No wash in that 40 days, I was in for 40 days and never had a wash. I was just in a G-string, covered with lice, crabs, scabies.

Not allowed to talk, we used to whisper. We had to kneel down all day. There wasn’t room to lay down of a night; we all laid side by side, squashed up, and had to sit up again at dawn, and kneel up, kneel down.

Saturday, August 15 marks the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War. Let’s pay our respects to that amazing generation of Australians.

Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling provides free and confidential support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Help is available 24/7 on 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit OpenArms.gov.au