THE Kundasang Memorial in Sabah, Borneo may be a long way from Wingham but it has strong ties to our community.
Members of the Wingham RSL sub branch have chosen to make a donation for the maintenance and upkeep of the memorial as a demonstration of their gratitude.
Member Del Heuke said the people of Sabah built the memorial to commemorate those who died in Sandakan and on the marches to Ranau during World War II.
The memorial was established in 1962 and also remembers the people of North Borneo who risked their lives to help the POWs.
The Chronicle ran Del’s article in April of this year that not only highlighted the terrible tragedies that befell allied soldiers but the local connection to the marches.
Local identities who became part of the history of Sandakan included Major Hugh Rayson, Captain John Oakeshott, Curley Walmsley and Keith Botterill.
“It’s amazing to think the work that my grandfather did so many years ago still has an effect today,” Dr Phil Rayson said.
“My grandfather was a World War I veteran and then at the outbreak of World War II he re-enlisted and joined the second Field Ambulance as a doctor.
“He had been taken prisoner at Sandakan but because he was a doctor he was an officer and was later sent to Ranau.
“I learnt a few years ago that another local man, Curly Wamsley, had also been at Sandakan.
“Curly and I used to sit and talk about Sandakan, and I’ve always wondered if he had met my grandfather so many years ago.”
Members of the RSL sub-branch have now finalised the donation. Together with the official donation on behalf of the RSL sub branch many members personally chose to contribute.
A total of $500 has now been raised and will go a long way in Malaysia for the upkeep of this beautiful memorial.
“It’s wonderful to think that the local people, at Sandakan, still think so highly of the Australian people, so much so that they operate a museum and memorial supported purely by donations and volunteers,” Dr Rayson said.
“I’d like to thank the Wingham RSL Sub-branch for making such a wonderful donation to help keep the memory of the men who were captured and later died at Sandakan.”