Message From Director, Office of Australian War Graves
The Sandakan Memorial Park commemorates the Allied prisoners of war and local civilians who lived and died at Sandakan and Ranau POW camps and who embarked on the infamous 'death marches'.
I was privileged to attend the opening of Sandakan Memorial Park in 1999, since then I have witnessed the development of the park from its inception to the significant and moving place of commemoration it is today. The connection so many people feel with this special place is humbling and I am proud of the role the Office of Australian War Graves and the community of Sabah have played in ensuring the message of the park endures, that it continues to honour the spirit of those who suffered this atrocity.
The story of the prisoners of war honoured here is an important one. It is the story of men who made an extraordinary sacrifice, for which all Australians are eternally grateful. Their suffering resonates with Australians and people of all nations. Theirs is a story which deserves to be told and remembered for generations to come.
15 August marks the anniversary of the last death of a POW in captivity. It is a fitting time to reflect on the brutality of this dark period in our shared history and recall the strength and courage of those who suffered and died here.
I am pleased that I will again be at Sandakan Memorial Park in 2006 to observe this sacred day of remembrance.
Major General J.R Stevens Ao (RETD)
Office of Australian War Graves