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The untold story of the Sandakan Death Marches of the Second World War.

The untold story of the Sandakan Death Marches of the Second World War.

This is the story of the three-year ordeal of the Sandakan prisoners of war – a barely known episode of unimaginable horror. After the fall of Singapore in February 1942, the Japanese conquerors transferred 2500 British and Australian prisoners to a jungle camp some eight miles inland of Sandakan, on the east coast of North Borneo. For decades after the Second World War, the Australian and British governments would refuse to divulge the truth of what happened there, for fear of traumatising the families of the victims and enraging the people.

The prisoners were broken, beaten, worked to death, thrown into bamboo cages on the slightest pretext, starved and subjected to tortures so ingenious and hideous that none survived the onslaught with their minds intact, and only an incredibly resilient few managed to withstand the pain without yielding to the hated Kempei-tai, the Japanese military police.

But this was only the beginning of the nightmare. In late 1944, Allied aircraft were attacking the coastal towns of Sandakan and Jesselton. To escape the bombardment, the Japanese resolved to abandon the Sandakan Prison Camp and move 250 miles inland to Ranau, taking the prisoners with them as slave labour, carriers and draught horses. Their journey became known as the Sandakan Death Marches. Of the 1000-plus prisoners sent on the Death Marches, only six – all of them Australians – survived.

This important and harrowing book narrates the full story of Sandakan, as told through the experiences of many of the participants. Paul Ham has interviewed the families of survivors and the deceased, in Australia, Britain and Borneo, and consulted thousands of court documents in an effort to piece together exactly what happened to the people who suffered and died in British North Borneo, and who was responsible.

Reviews

Ham has written a brave and important book. He shows his talents as a superb writer. His well-written, sometimes near lyrical phrases pains a moving, unforgettable picture. Highly recommended.

Paul Simpson, Kalgoorlie Miner, WA

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9781864711417

    June 3, 2013

    William Heinemann Australia

    672 pages

    RRP $34.99

    Online retailers

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  • Hardback

    9781864711400

    October 1, 2012

    William Heinemann Australia

    672 pages

    RRP $49.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781742756141

    October 1, 2012

    RHA eBooks Adult

    672 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Paul Ham

Young Hitler
Passchendaele
1914: The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand
1914: The Belgian Massacres
The Great Australian Writers' Collection 2013
1914: The Year the World Ended

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