Sandakan to Ranau Death March
Back towards the end of World War II Japanese soldiers were given orders to make British and Australian Armed Forces march from a POW Camp in Sandakan, on the east coast of Sabah, Malaysia to build a new camp at Ranau, a small settlement in the heart of Sabah’s interior. The route was 164 miles long and passed through dense, remote jungle, towards the foothills of Mount Kinabalu.
Dressed only in rags, half starved and facing execution, of the original 2434 POWs imprisoned in Sandakan the stronger 1050 men were forced to walk the 164 miles. Of these men only a handful survived, and as you can imagine, many collapsed with exhaustion en route. The heat, humidity and malnourishment, eating a maximum three ounces of rice per day, meant that where they fell they were shot and left for dead. There were three marches in total and by the time the survivors from the second march had reached Renau there were none of the first march left alive. In fact, only 6 soldiers survived the whole ordeal and that was down to their own ingenuity having escaped. Sadly the survivors who had fought off starvation and disease in Ranau were executed on 27 August 1945, 12 days after Japan had surrendered. It was one of the worst single atrocities of War II and has rightly earned the title of the “death march”.
With this history in mind the expedition intend to complete the Death March in honour of those who gave their lives for freedom and attend a dedication ceremony at Renau. Today we have the luxury of Rohan kit, DEET and a better diet but the challenge will still be immense. Trekking and cycling in temperatures of 90 degrees fahrenheit and 95% humidity through remote primary jungle, plantations and some roads will be like doing Star Jumps in a sauna for 8 hours a day for 12 days. It promises to be a physical and emotional challenge for all involved and, hopefully, we will all become better people for it.
The 14 strong expedition team comprises of officers and soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Artillery, both Regular and Territorial Army, male and female. Rohan have kindly provided support to our expedition with Expedition shirts, trousers, pants and Drylocker bags which we will be using throughout. We start with acclimatisation with some of the best jungle training the British Army has to offer in Brunei (river crossings, survival skills etc) before heading into Sabah. In addition to the trek we have raised money to sponsor an orang-utan for the next five years and will be doing so at the reserve at Sepilok.
If we all do our bit, maybe we can help such a beautiful unique ecosystem survive the inevitable environmental demands placed upon it.
Follow our adventures on Rohantime.com. We will be updating Rohantime on a regular basis.
Claire Curry, Royal Artillery Expedition Leader.
Follow the intrepid trekkers
Read more… Sabah Salute – Lest We Forget
Read more… Sabah Salute – The Journey Begins
Read more… Sabah Salute – Team Enters Brunei
Read more… Sabah Salute – Crocodile Dundee
Read more… Sabah Salute – Really Sweaty Work
Read more… Sabah Salute – Bus Journey!
Read more… Sabah Salute – Endangered Primate
Read more… Sabah Salute – City of Sandakan
Read more… Sabah Salute – Blazing Saddles!
Read more… Sabah Salute – A Gentle Trek
Read more… Sahab Salute – In the News
Read more… Sabah Salute – The Final March
Read more… Sabah Salute – Expedition Success
A selection of Sabah Salute 2011 photos on the Rohantime Gallery