Kundasang War Memorial and Gardens
Located immediately behind the vegetable wholesale stalls is the Kundasang War Memorial and Gardens situated on the hill resembling a fort.Major G.S. Carter, D.S.O. (Toby Carter) a New Zealander employed with Shell Oil Co. (Borneo) initiated the building of the Memorial in 1962, together with the launching of Kinabalu Park; to remember the 2,428 Australian and British prisoners who died during the World War II at the Sandakan POW Camp, and the casualties of the 3 infamous forced death marches i.e. Sandakan-Ranau Death March from Sandakan to Ranau. On top of that, it is also a tribute to the many locals who risked their lives while releasing the prisoners of war. Only 6 Australians recorded survived in this tragedy to tell their horror and no English survivors were recorded.The 'fort-like' Memorial was designed by a local architect by the name of J.C. Robinson. It has 4 interlocking but separate gardens to represent the homelands of those who has died: an Australian Garden, a formal English Garden of roses, a Borneo Garden with wild flowers of Kinabalu and at the top level is the 'Comtemplation Garden' with a reflection pool and pergola.To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Memorial was beautifully restored in 2005 privately by Mr Sevee Charuruks & with funding provided by the Malaysian Government. The Gardens have been replanted with flowers, particularly roses and rare orchids that includes the much sought after Paphiopedilum rothschildianum (Rothschild's slipper orchids). The memorial is open to local and foreign visitors not only to view the perfect gardens but to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the Freedom of others.ANZAC Memorial Service and private Memorial Services are welcomed with prior arrangements. The Memorial is open to visitors with minimal entrance fees charged.
In 1942 and 1943 the Japanese brought about 2700 Australians and British POWs to Sandakan POW camp. Most of them had been captured at the surrender at Singapore, in February 1942. The POWs were used as a labour force to build a military airstrip in Sandakan. In late 1944, as the Allies advanced in the Pacific, the airstrip was bombed and destroyed. Early in 1945 the Japanese decided to move the POWs 240 kilometres west into the mountains to the small valley settlement of Ranau, immediately below the majestic Mt Kinabalu, rising 4,095.2m above sea level (13,435 ft). On three forced marches between January and June 1945 approximately 500 prisoners died. The remainder died at Ranau or at the Sandakan camp.By the end of August 1945, all POWs were dead except for six Australian survivors. No British survived.Two of the six escaped into the jungle during the second march in June 1945. Assisted by local people, they were eventually picked by Allied units. The other four escaped from Ranau in July and again, with the help of local people, were fed and hidden from the Japanese until the end of the War. A total of 2,428 Australians and British POWs died at Sandakan, Ranau or on the Death Marches.