Owen Campbell

‘We found out later they had orders to kill us all. No survivors.’

2 July 2020

Today we remember Owen Campbell, one of six survivors of the infamous Sandakan Death March, in which some 2,500 prisoners of war were systematically killed.

Owen Campbell — We found out later they had orders to kill us all. No survivors.

Owen Campbell audio file (MP4 23.95 MB)

Owen Campbell 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)

August the 15th marks the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War. Around one million Australians enlisted from a population of just seven million.

Australia remembers Owen Campbell, one of just six survivors of the infamous Sandakan Death March, in which some 2,500 prisoners of war were systematically killed.

The ruthlessness of the Japanese — even with their own men — was shocking to him.

Owen Campbell

If you didn’t hurry up, you’d get hit with a rifle butt, or get jabbed with a bayonet if you weren’t careful. But if you collapsed, you never got up. — they’d just do you there and then.

In the mornings, the Japs used to say: “Bring all your sick men out and you put ‘em out there”. And then when you got down the road a bit, you’d hear the machine guns. They were shooting.

Or if you collapsed on the side of the thing, they’d just put a bayonet through you.

But they did it to their own soldiers. This is what I couldn’t understand. If their soldiers collapsed on the march with us, they just shot them. See — they didn’t want any stragglers of any description left behind. Because we found out later they had orders to kill us all. No survivors.

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