Open daily: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Entrance fee is free.
The Sandakan Memorial Park commemorates a tragedy and an atrocity that happened during the Second World War (1942 to 1945). Where more than 2,400 prisoners-of-war consisting mainly Australian and British had perished under the brutal handling of the Japanese Imperial Army. After the war a group of committed people together with the Sabah government set up this memorial park to dedicate it to the prisoners-of-war and the soldiers who had served in the British Colonial Forces. Local civilians who had assisted the prisoners in many dangerous circumstances were also remembered here. The Memorial Park is also the place where the infamous death marches to Ranau began in 1945.
The Memorial Park which encompasses an area of 11 hectares is situated on the former site of the Prisoner-Of-War camp. During the war time the Prisoner-Of-War camp was much larger, about four times the present size. Many areas of the prison camp have been developed into housing estates, and today one can see that the Memorial Park is surrounded by residential units.
Upon arrival at the park visitors will be greeted by a small pond where many of the lotus grow. A short walk would lead to the area where some old machines used at the prison camp are placed. These old relics which are in rusty conditions include an excavator and a boiler & an alternator. The excavator was used for the construction of the airfield, which was never completed. The boiler & alternator were used for the production of electricity mainly for lighting the perimeter as well as the internal lighting of the camp buildings.
Next stop is the Pavilion. This building houses some pictures and many wall mounted documents. The articles here cover the history of the site, the captured of the POWs, the brutality of the Japanese Soldiers, the big tree, disease and starvation, the underground network, the death marches, the six survivors and so on.
Further up the trail is the commemorative area, where in the centre stands a concrete plaque with a beautiful motif engraved on it. This is the place where many believe the big tree stood, the big tree has long been gone. The big tree was a landmark used by the prisoners to identified the camp site. Every year during the Anzac Day (25th, April) and the Sandakan Memorial Day (15th, August) ceremonial prayers are held at this spot.
Leaving the commemorative area, visitors will come across the Japanese Quartermaster’s store and kitchen. The was the storage place for food. A kitchen for the Japanese, which was staffed by the British POWs, also operated here. POWs who stole food at the store would be put into the punishment cages, which are square concrete walls that measure about 4 feet x 4 feet and has a height of 7 feet. A few of these concrete walls can still be seen here. After visiting this place a stroll along the secondary forest will lead one back to the entrance area.
This place is highly recommended for the history enthusiasts. Professional tour and self-guided tour are both possible. Professional guides are offered by many of the local tour companies. To visit the park on your own, self-guided brochures can be acquired at the Pavilion. An hour should be sufficient to go around the Memorial Park. Set aside another hour, if one likes to read the many documents at the Pavilion. DO NOT forget to bring the insect repellent, it can be a life saver.
How to go there? Public transport is available at the bus station opposite to the navy base, at the Sandakan town. One way bus ride to Taman Rimba where the Memorial Park is located, costs around RM 1.50. From the bus stop one would have to walk about 10 minutes to the park. To return to the town just wait for the bus at the drop off point (opposite direction). Taxi fare (return) may cost about RM 30.00.
If one chooses to self-drive, take the North road from the town centre. At mile 7 of North road, where the Sri Labuk roundabout is, turn to the Labuk Road instead of the Airport Road. Also note that the Sri Labuk roundabout has a large clock tower in the centre. Drive for about a mile, one will reach another roundabout where a concrete structure of a crocodile stands. Do drive straight on. After the crocodile roundabout, you will have to take the first right turn to Rimba street, from here it is just a short drive to the Sandakan Memorial Park.
Sandakan Memorial Park
Mile 8, Jalan Labuk Utara, Taman Rimba,
Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia
Sandakan Municipal Council
Contact Person : Catherin Chua
Telephone : +6089 275 400 / +6089 224 026
Fax : +6089 274 659
Sandakan Memorial Park Gallery: