A Message to the People of Sandakan from the Community of Boyup Brook, Western Australia
I am honoured to be invited to participate in the 4th Sandakan Day Memorial Service and to represent my community in recognising the sacrifices that Australian soldiers and members of your community suffered during that terrible period.
During my first visit to your country in April 2005 when my wife Carol and I attended the ANZAC day ceremony, we were overwhelmed by the genuine friendship shown to us personally by your Council President, Mr Yeo Boon Hai, and his family and without exception by the many people we were introduced to by Catherin Chua.
I found it extraordinary that a community that had suffered so much personal loss and destruction of their city by supporting the Australian soldiers have retained a great affection and respect for we Australians. I was and continue to be deeply humbled by your on-going friendship.
That the story of the Sandakan tragedy has become better known in Australia was in no small measure the result of the dedication of Ted McLaughlin, a local farmer in our district and a former prisoner of war in Singapore. Ted was determined that Australians needed to be told of the horrors and of the suffering of his mates who were separated from him and became victims of the Sandakan death marches as it is now known. He championed the establishment of the first Australian memorial to the conflict, being erected in Boyup Brook in 1991. The message continues to be told through the endeavours and zealousness of his son, Joe, and Mr Ryan Rowland.
Terry Ginnane JP
Shire of Boyup Brook