One of the most visited places in Labuan is the World War ll Memorial located along Jalan Tanjung Batu. This beautifully landscaped memorial garden is the final resting place of 3,908 war heroes who either died in battle or captivity in Borneo during World War ll. Most were Australian and British which some from the Punjab Signal Corp, New Zealand and a few locals.
In February 1945, the Japanese apprehending an Allied landing in the Sandakan area, started to force march the prisoners to Ranau, which came to be known as the infamous Ranau Death March. Hundreds upon hundreds perished along the way and those who were left behind and the Sandakan POW camp were reburied here at the Labuan War Cemetry.
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On 10 June 1945, Allied troops landed at Brown Beach, Tanjung Purun to begin what was to be the liberalization of Borneo from the Japanese. Prior to this, Labuan town was heavily bombed to flush out the enemies. Most of the buildings were destroyed. Fierce fighting also took place on land at a place known as the pocket.
The remains of the Allied troops were gathered from all over Borneo to be interned at the memorial garden. Row upon row of white headstones mark the graves of the dead. Visitors can refer to panels on the colonnade where the name of the every soldier who is interned here, appears. Many of the stones bear poignant messages from families while others are inscribed simple, 'known unto God'
The World War ll Memorial is visited regularly by war veteran groups, especially from Australia who have included Labuan is an important destination on their battlefield tours circuit. On the first Sunday of November every year, a service to mark Remembrance Day is held here and is attended by locals and foreign visitors. The World War Memories was constructed and is maintained by Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The lawn are beautifully kept so that visitors can appreciate the peace and tranquility of the place as they seek to understand the senselessness of the deaths of so many brave young men.