Lest We Forget

Lois Romer

Bentleigh, Australia

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Artist's Description

The Sandakan memorial park is sited on the original POW (Prisoners of War) camp which was set up during the WWII Japanese Occupation in 1942 – 1945. The camp was set up with 2 main sections; 1 section for the British POWs and the other for Australian POWs . The current size of the Memorial Park is only fraction of the original camp. In 1942 and 1943, the prisoners numbered some approximately 750 British and more than 1650 Australian soldiers and civilians. Many were transferred from Singapore to be used as labour to build the military airfield in Sandakan .

In 1945, the Japanese army on realising that they were losing the war and the allies were closing in, marched the prisoners from camp at Sandakan to Ranau, some 250kms away. There were 3 separate marches, the first one began in January 1945 these marches were known as the Death March.. The last March comprised of the remaining prisoners at camp in Sandakan , numbering 537. Invalids at camp who couldn’t leave, were shot. There was no account of what happened at camp after the last march. There simply were no survivors to tell the tale. Those who were sent on the Death March were to trek through thick jungle, treacherous routes and some prisoners had no boots. Those who could walk no further, were killed. The march took almost a year to complete. Of the 2700 prisoners, only 6 survived of which 2 had escaped during the 2 nd march and 4 escaped during their stint at Ranau. No British prisoners survived.

The war memorial has a pavilion dedicated to the prisoners of war that spent their days at the camp. The wall mounted displays of documented accounts of the prisoners’ lives at the camp, a model of the camp itself and accounts of the death marches is worth the time. The sufferings of war should never be forgotten and for generations who have not witnessed the atrocities of war, it is a gruesome teaching of what must not happen. ever again.

The Park was officially opened on 15 February 1999 .

The motif used in the Park depicts flowers representing people of the three nations who suffered at Sandakan during the Second World War. The design is taken from the stained glass window within the pavilion and is repeated on the granite memorial and decorative gates.

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Artwork Comments

  • Michael Walters
  • Lois Romer
  • dougie1
  • Lois Romer
  • izzybeth
  • Asti
  • Lois Romer
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