risoners from the P.O.W. camp in north Borneo were forced to march from this camp to Ranau, some 260km away. The Sandakan "Death March" claimed 1787 lives.
The prisoners were starved, tortured and beaten by the Japanese all the way. One man to die on this trip was 36 year old William Keating, uncle of recent Prime Minister Paul Keating.
The story is only known as 6 prisoners escaped into the jungle and later bore witness to the atrocity.
One of the 6, Keith Botterill of Lithgow, NSW, home of the Lithgow Flash, tells the story of how one of his mates was tied to a stake for eleven days and repeatedly kicked by his Japanese captors. When his tormentors finally tired of the 'sport' he was taken from his stake by his comrades and bathed in a nearby stream before dying in the arms of his mates. Gunner Neil Cleary was also starved and died on March 20th, 1945, aged 22.
The Japanese officers responsible for this act of horror were tried and executed.
Lest we forget!