Kundasang War Memorial, Kundasang, Sabah
Built at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, the Kundasang War Memorial Park commemorates the Prisoners of War from Australia and Britain, along with the locals who attempted to help them, who died during World War II at the hands of the Japanese. New Zealand World War II veteran, Major Toby Carter, a local Borneo resident who worked for Shell Oil, initiated the concept of the park in the 1950s. After many years of fundraising and contributions from the British and Australian government's, the memorial was completed in 1962. Comprising of four distinct garden areas, the memorial park was unable to be maintained due to inadequate funding and by 2003 had fallen into complete disarray.
In response to the collapsing memorial, local resident Sevee Charuruks began the restoration process of the site, inserting his own funds and manpower into the project. As of today, visitors can walk through the repaired and well-maintained gardens and pay their respects to those memorialised there.
At the entrance to the park, a short video explains the significance of the gardens and provides a history of the death marches that occurred in the area during World War II. Continuing through the space, visitors reach the first of four gardens known as the ‘Australian Garden’. In the middle of this garden is a large Australian flag with a bronze plaque that reads ‘Kinabalu Kundasang War Memorial and Australia’. Panels in English and Malay retell the history of the Australian and British POWs in Sabah and a solid plate depicts the routes the prisoners took on the various death marches. Following on from the Australian Garden is the English Rose Garden. Dedicated to the British POWs who lost their lives, a selection of roses surround a black marble table with the flag of the United Kingdom and an inscription etched on top.
Next is the Borneo Garden, a memorial to the local ethnic groups of Sabah who helped the POWs during their imprisonment. A wide variety of local plants and flowers from the Sabah region have been grown in this space. The final garden, located at the top of the park, is called the Contemplation Garden. Within this space, a large reflection pool and pergola are framed by a Roll of Honour, etched on black granite slabs. Completed in 2011, the Roll of Honour lists the names of all the men who died on the death marches from Sandakan to Ranau, along with their age, place of death and original place of burial (when known). Throughout the entire park interpretation panels showcase photographs, diary entries and newspaper clippings that tell the story of the Allied prisoners of Sabah.