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Last Updated on Friday, 09 September, 2016 03:58:52 PM

Kundasang War Memorial

Kundasang War Memorial - was established as tribute to the memory of the 2,428 Australians and British POWs who died in the Sandakan-Ranau death marches during World War II.

Within the memorial, there are 4 Gardens specially-built to represent the homelands of those who died in the Death Marches and the locals who risked their lives to help the POWs.
1) the Australian Garden,
2) the English Garden,
3) the Borneo Garden and
 4) the Contemplation Garden and Pool.

Open: Daily from 8.30am - 5.30pm
Admission rates: Rm 10
Distance from Kota Kinabalu : Kundasang town is about a 15-mlnute drive from Kinabalu Park. Kinabalu Park is 100 km (2 hrs 30 minutes) from Kota Kinabalu City


Kundasang War Memorial  has four interlocking gardens to represent the homelands of those who died during WWII.

1) Australian Garden
2) English Garden of roses
3) Borneo Garden with wild flowers of Kinabalu
4) Contemplation Garden with a reflection pool and pergola.

The Australian Garden is resplendent in its simplicity. A green lawn and at its centre a map of Australia, made of smooth white pebbles of Kundasang. At its far end stands the Memorial plaque.

The Borneo Garden showcases a treasure of Sabah’s endemic Borneo orchids. A special honour is given to the plant that served as staple during the War – the tapioca.

The Sandakan Death Marches:

In the death march, only six Australian servicemen managed to escape.

During the second marches,
1) Gunner Owen Campbell and
2) Bombardier Richard Braithwaite managed to escape into the jungle, where they were assisted by locals and eventually rescued by Allied units.

During July,
3) Private Nelson Short,
4) Warrant Officer William Sticpewich,
5) Private Keith Botterill and
6) Lance Bombardier William Moxham managed to escape from Ranau and were also helped by the local people, who fed them and hid them from the Japanese until the end of the war.

Of the six survivors, only three survived the lingering effects of their ordeal in order to give evidence at various war crimes trials in both Tokyo and Rabaul. The world was able to receive eyewitness accounts of the crimes and atrocities committed.

The criminals :

1)  Captain Hoshijima was found guilty of war crimes and hanged on April 6 1946.

2) Captain Takakuwa and his second-in-charge,
3) Captain Watanabe Genzo, were found guilty of causing the murders and massacres of prisoners-of-war and were hanged and shot on 6 April 1946 and 16 March 1946 respectively.

War Memorial and Gardens of remembrance were built at Kundasang, Sabah in 1962 to commemorate those who had died at Sandakan and Ranau.

Reference source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandakan_Death_Marches

 The Marches :  http://www.ww2australia.gov.au/behindwire/story_marches.html

Australian Garden English Garden Borneo Garden Contemplation Garden

Kundasang War Memorial and Gardens

Australian GardenEnglish Garden of rosesBorneo Garden with wild flowers of Kinabalu'Contemplation Garden' with a reflection pool and pergola.

The fort-like Memorial was designed by J.C. Robinson, a local architect. It has four interlocking but separate gardens to represent the homelands of those who died:

1) Australian Garden,

2) English Garden of roses,

3) Borneo Garden with wild flowers of Kinabalu

4) 'Contemplation Garden' with a reflection pool and pergola.


1) 澳大利亞園、
2) 英國園、
3) 婆羅洲園、
4) 沉思園及水池

The Kundasang War Memorial commemorates the British and Australian soldiers who perished in the Sandakan Death March during the Second World War.

Horrendous memory of the event contrasts strongly with the 4 peaceful gardens, carpeted with a blissfully ignorant sea of green grass and colorful flowers, hedged in by imposing stone walls.

Emotionally-charged messages and poetry, inscribed on stone plaques erected by survivors and families of victims, emanate with the powerful feelings of loss and longing arising from this tragedy.


It was in 1962 that the building of the Kundasang War Memorial was commissioned (along with the opening of Kinabalu Park) by Major Carter, a Kiwi employed with an oil company, to remember the events associated with the Sandakan Death March. Between 1942-1943, 2,400 Allied soldiers were captured by Japanese forces (mostly in the Battle of Singapore) and sent to work on an airstrip in Sandakan together with forced labor comprising 3,600 Javan civilians.

Living conditions were harrowing and the prisoners suffered terrible losses among their ranks from disease, malnourishment and summary executions by their captors.

In 1945, towards the end of the war, the Japanese forced what remained of their prisoners (about 1,900 people) on a series of marches towards Ranau from Sandakan.

Meanwhile, brave natives of Borneo risked their lives helping prisoners who escaped during the marches - though many of the escapees did not eventually make it. The brutal march, compounded by lack of rations and brutal treatment, wiped all of them out except six Australians who escaped successfully.

Three of them lived long enough after the war to give their testimonies at war crime trials and punish those responsible. When the war memorial was completed in 1970, it too fell into disarray over time because of neglect.

It was not until Sevee Charuruks, a Thai-born retiree came visiting that he saw, and was appalled at its condition.

Taking on the responsibilities of a caretaker, he restored and embellished the war memorial with money from his own pocket and funding from various sources, including Australian authorities.

Expanding the park grounds, he build four memorial gardens, the first three dedicated respectively to the countries involved (Australia, Britain and Borneo) and the final one, a contemplation ground for personal reflection on the matter - complete with pergola, pool and balcony overlooking Mount Kinabalu.

The gardens are incredibly well-kept and planted with roses, orchids and hibiscus flowers but please don't pick any of them. Tickets are priced at MYR2 for Malaysians while international travelers pay MYR10 per person.

It's a quick walking distance from the vegetable market in Kundasang, just down the road towards Mesilau.

The war memorial is certainly worth the visit, not just for appreciating the beauty of its landscape and architecture, but also for honoring the fallen soldiers and brave people of Borneo in our hearts.

RM800,000 work of love

By Jaswinder Kaur

It took almost all his retirement savings, but Thai-born Seeve Charuruks went ahead with his promise to restore the Kundasang War Memorial. He thought it would cost him between RM50,000 and RM 100,000 to restore it to its original glory, but Seeve ended up spending about RM800,000.

With a team of workers, Seeve spent three months picking up glass pieces of broken beer bottles, plastic wrappers, tin cans and other rubbish. This alone cost RM 100,000.

Once that was done, his team spent close to a year wiping away graffiti and restoring the memorial, planting 500 new plants, including roses and orchids. Some of the plants cost him RM2,000 each.

"I happened to visit the memorial more than two years ago and was shocked to see its condition," Seeve said at the memorial recently.

"It had been vandalised and the smell of urine was everywhere

"I wrote a strongly -worded letter to the State Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry to inform them that the memorial had been neglected.

"I was then asked if I would like to do something about it and I took up the challenge.

"We opened in October last year and it has changed my life. I was a contractor and always stressed out. I have learned how to do gardening. something which is new to me, and I have quit smoking."

Seeve, who moved to Sabah more than 30 years ago from Bangkok when he decided to settle down with a local girl, now spends most of his time at the memorial.

The memorial was built as a tribute to the memory of 2,428 Australian and British prisoners of war who died in the Second World War.

Of the group of prisoners forced to march from Sandakan to Ranau, just before the end of the war, only six Australians survived.

New Zealander G. S. "Toby" Carter, who enlisted with the Royal Australian Engineers during the war, proposed the memorial and it was approved in 1962.

The memorial comprises four separate gardens set at. different levels. These are the English, Australian, Borneo and Contemplation gardens, the last one leading to a lookout point to view the majestic Mount Kinabalu,

2011-08-30 TUE 15:52PM

With Mr Sevee Charuruks


Mr Sevee Charuruks the restorer of Kundasang War Memorial.


He undertook its restoration as a private retirement project.

Carefully restored to a state that far surpasses their original glory.


In recognition of his efforts, the British government awarded Mr Charuruks an MBE, an Imperial Award

The Australian government conferred on him an honorary award (AM) under the Order of Australia.



KUNDASANG    September 09, 2016 03:58:52 PM

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