Monday, July 22

Memorial museum gets wartime history book ‘Stories from Sandakan’

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Smith presents his book to Awang Hambali. From left are Hatch, Rowland and Lim.

KUCHING: The Batu Lintang War Memorial Museum received wartime history book ‘Stories from Sandakan – 2/18th Battalion’ from author Dr Kevin Smith yesterday.

Smith said it was his third book on Australian prisoners of war in Borneo.

“I’ve found that there is always something that remains unwritten from previous books. I had wanted to tell the stories of what happened to one particular battalion, the 2/18th Battalion. They were the 1,000 men who were sent to Sandakan in Sabah during the Second World War.

“These are the stories that they would have talked about when they were sent home, the home they would never see again. I wrote their stories so that all would be able to read about the tenacity and courage of those men,” he told reporters after presenting the book to Batu Lintang Teachers’ Training Institute director Awang Hambali Awang Hamdan.

The book, published in 2011, is a factual account of the 2/18th Battalion’s experiences during training, garrison duties in then Malaya and intensive action in Malaya and also Singapore.

It focuses on the 174 men of the battalion who were sent as prisoners of war from Changi in Singapore to Sandakan, Sabah. Only 17 of them would return to Australia.

Smith was with a delegation of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) veterans and Heritage programme exchange students here to commemorate Sarawak’s 70th anniversary of liberation from the Japanese Occupation at the end of the Second World War.

Among those present were Sarawak Tourism Federation Heritage Development Committee chairman Lim Kian Hock, Borneo Exhibition Group president Ryan Rowland and Anzac veteran Ronald Hatch.