Island of Labuan
The Labuan War Cemetery is located on the small Island of Labuan situated in Brunei Bay off the north west coast of Borneo. It is on high ground close to the airport overlooking the harbour. It is the only war cemetery in North Borneo and was specially created as a cemetery for deceased POW's from all over Borneo.
After the war in 1945, the remains of many unidentifiable POW's were found along the route of the infamous march from Sandakan to Ranau - (Ranau being more than 257 kilometres inland from Sandaken). These remains and others taken from scattered graves throughout Borneo were taken to a then existing cemetery in Sandakan which was already laden with a large number of POW graves. However this primary burial ground was in a flat sea coast area and at certain times was liable to heavy flooding which for obvious reason made it impractical to continue using it as a cemetery. Therefore the War Cemetery on the Island of Labuan was created and all the deceased from the Sandakan cemetery were transferred.
The total number of graves on Labuan is 3,905. 2,700 graves are those of the men from Sandakan of which nearly half are unnamed - it was reported that of the 2,400 men who left Sandakan only 260 arrived at Ranau and most of these succumbed later. Only six survived to the end of the war.
Approximately another 500 graves are those of men from Kuching, which was another large prisoner of war camp in Borneo.
Of the total number of graves, 1,726 are completely unidentifiable - neither by nationality nor name. The majority of unidentified graves is due to the destruction of all records of the camps in Borneo by the then Japanese Commander before his capture. 812 are known British graves with 81 being unknown.
Also at Labuan is a Memorial consisting of numerous columns surrounding a square paved area which is dedicated to the officers and men of the Australian Forces.
The small neat headstones are of bronze plaques mounted on small white sloping concrete blocks each bearing the regimental insignia of the deceased. Throughout the cemetery soft green grass predominates, interspersed with small flowering shrubs and trees.