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Sandakan Memorial
Sandakan Memorial

Photographs supplied by Diane Watson / Russell Byers

The Sandakan memorial is a sculpture commissioned by the Australian War Memorial to acknowledge and remember those prisoners of war who died during the Sandakan death march, Borneo in 1945.

Designed as an accurate sundial, the memorial is rich in symbolism. The sundial is made of carved and polished pink granite that rises in a long, low, oblong shape and incorporates a section of 40 panes of glass. The shape was inspired by the airfields that the men who are remembered by the memorial were forced to build by their Japanese captors.

There are also four distinct platforms, representing the four years the men spent in captivity. The markings in the stone recall Sabah, the Land Below the Winds, where Sandakan is located. On the summer and winter solstices and 11 November, the shadow cast by the sundial advances over three curved lines on the tiled base, marking the hours of the day. These shadows symbolise the passage of time and the permanence of memory.

The Sandakan Death Marches were a series of forced marches in Borneo from Sandakan to Ranau which resulted in the deaths of 2345 Allied prisoners of war held captive by the Empire of Japan during the Pacific campaign of World War Two in the Sandakan POW Camp. By the end of the war, of all the prisoners who had been incarcerated at Sandakan and Ranau, only six Australians survived, all of whom had escaped. It is widely considered to be the single worst atrocity suffered by Australian servicemen during World War Two.


Address:Fairbairn & Limestone Avenues, Australian War Memorial Sculpture Garden, Campbell, 2612
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -35.280441
Long: 149.147222
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Conflict
Actual Event Start Date:03-September-1939
Actual Event End Date:15-August-1945
Artist:Anne Ferguson


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 29th May, 2005
Front Inscription

In memory of the 1,787 Australian Prisoners of War who died in the Sandakan Death Marches, in Borneo in the final months of the Second World War.

Only six survived this atrocity


Back Inscription

Anne Ferguson  

Sandakan Memorial
Granite, sandstone, and glass
acquired under commision in 2005

This memorial was unveiled on 29 May 2005 by the Hon De-Anne Kelly, MP, Minister for Veterans Affiars. 

Designed as an accurate sundial, the memorial is rich in symbolism.

The shape of the stone with the four steps carved in one side to represent the number of years in captivity, was inspired by the airfields the prisoners were sent to construct.  The swirling patterns in the granite recall the winds and mountains of Borneo.  "The land beneath the wind"  

The sundial marks the passage of time, and evokes our remembrance of the past and of lives cut short.  Engraved lines trace the shadows cast on the summer and winter solstices (the outer lines) and on Remembrance Day (the inner line). 

Source: MA,SKP
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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