Monday, November 18

Australian woman has attended Sandakan Memorial Day 10 times despite not knowing any victim

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Annette and Bill Merchant say they love Sabah and Sandakan.

SANDAKAN: Annette Merchant, 71, from Clarence Town, New Castle, Australia, has celebrated 10 birthdays in Sandakan while here to attend the Sandakan Memorial Day.

Annette, who travels with her husband Bill Merchant, said the Sandakan Memorial Day service was truly meaningful and it kept her coming back.

“I do not personally know anyone who was a victim of World War II. However, my father and my husband were in the military, hence I feel that the history of wars here is a story that is close to the heart.

“I also admire the locals and thank them for remembering (the history of Prisoners of War and Death March during World War II). For them (locals) to have this memorial service every year, it is excellent that people keep remembering it,” she said.

She added that the Memorial service was done perfectly.

“It is always beautiful. The setting, the schedule, the ways of it, I would not change a thing,” she said.

Annette said she and her husband had travelled to Sabah many times because they love Sabah and they love Sandakan.

She said she hoped more young people from Australia would go to Sandakan for the memorial service as well to remember the soldiers and servicemen, and to appreciate the history of war.

Sandakan Memorial Day is held annually on August 15 at the original Sandakan World War II prisoners’ campsite, which is now the Sandakan Memorial Park, to remember and honour the 2434 Australian and British prisoners and the locals who helped them.

Each year, families of fallen heroes travel to this park to observe and participate in the memorial service.