Sandakan Memorial Park Sandakan Sabah Malaysia 1/1 by Tripoto
Monica Tindall
By far the most poignant of the sites to visit in Sandakan is the Memorial Park, the site of the Mile 8 POW camp. Being from the United States and a generation or two removed from World War II, I was unaware of the historical importance of Sandakan in relation to the war and deeply moved by what I learned here. The Japanese took hold of Sandakan in 1942 and established a POW camp there with prisoners brought from Singapore, all British and Australian soldiers, in order to build an airstrip. In 1945, after 3 years of life in horrific conditions, the surviving 2,400 POWs were marched by the Japanese to Ranau, 260km away. Those who could not make the journey were shot, and 500 died along the way. The rest perished at the camp in Ranau. Only six prisoners survived to tell the tale, two by escaping during the death march and the other four from the camp at Ranau. Upon exiting the centre, a lovely wooden walkway lead us to the former site of the Big Tree, a huge tree which could be seen from miles around. This tree was in the center of the camp, very near to the guardhouse and the site of the “cage”, an appalling version of solitary confinement. After the war, the tree was cut down and this memorial erected. I highly recommend this as the most important place to see during your visit in Sandakan. It is quite near the city and takes 45 minutes to an hour to stroll the well-kept grounds and read the information provided on plaques along the way.