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Borneo, Sarawak, Sarawak Tourism

Batu Lintang war memorial to be upgraded

THE war memorial at the Batu Lintang teacher-training institute will receive A$40,000 (RM126,401) from the Australian Government for an upgrade.

During the Second World War, 3,000 Australian and other Allied prisoners of war were held at the site.

The soldiers and civilians remained at the labour camp for more than three years.

Throughout that time, the prisoners of war endured harsh conditions including forced labour, food shortages and disease.

This led to the deaths of about 500 prisoners during incarceration. They were later laid to rest at the Labuan War Cemetery in Sabah.

An interesting point about the place was the setting up of the Kuching University – you could say it was Sarawak’s first tertiary institution.

A Lt Frank Bell is said to be responsible for organising classes at the British officers’ camp.

Although it was forbidden by the Japanese to teach, learn, compile or possess notes on any subject, or meet in groups for discussion, the prisoners of war braved imprisonment and death to attend the ‘university’.

There were classes in seven modern languages, as well as history, public speaking, navigation, pig-farming, civics and poultry keeping!

Bell and his fellow educators organised courses, compiled text books, led classes, and awarded diplomas. This story alone makes Batu Lintang camp an extremely fascinating place to learn more about!

The upgrading work will involve landscaping and the installation of a visitor seating area.

Currently, there is only a very simple memorial at the site.

Australian Veterans Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon said the POW Campsite Memorial served as a lasting reminder of the brutal treatment endured by thousands of Australians during World War II.

He said the upgraded memorial would continue to provide a solemn place of reflection.

The tragedy of war should never be forgotten. How our history is intertwined with that of Australia and the other countries of the Allied forces should also be remembered.

Having a proper memorial is only fitting because we Sarawakians should know our own history.

Being human we sometimes forget to appreciate all that we have been blessed with and fail to recognise the contributions of those who have gone before us.

Although a symbol of a dark times, the memorial would also be a place of hope — with stories such as Bell’s — as well as friendship between our State and Australia, in particular.

It could also have value in terms of tourism, as the family members and friends of those who were interned in the camp would want to visit the site.

The report from ninemsn:

Malaysia war memorial to be upgraded

The Australian government will provide $40,000 towards upgrading a memorial in Malaysia, which marks the site where more than 3000 Australian and other allied prisoners of war were held.

Veterans Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon says the Batu Lintang POW Campsite Memorial at Sarawak, East Malaysia, served as a lasting reminder of the brutal treatment endured by thousands of Australians during World War II.

Funding will be made available through the Overseas Privately-Constructed Memorial Restoration Program to ensure the memorial continued to provide a solemn place of reflection.

The upgrading work will involve landscaping and installation of a visitor seating area.

More than 15,000 Australian soldiers became prisoners of Japanese forces with the surrender of Singapore in February, 1942.

Batu Lintang, also known as Kuching POW camp, operated as a labour camp, with soldiers and civilians held captive for more than three years.

Throughout this period, prisoners endured harsh conditions including forced labour, food shortages and disease.

Following closure of the camp, the graves of about 500 who died during incarceration were moved to the Labuan War Cemetery in Malaysia.

“To honour their memory, the Batu Lintang POW Campsite Memorial was established within the grounds of a nearby teachers training college in 1947,” Mr Snowdon said.

The Bernama report:

MELBOURNE: The Australian government will provide A$40,000 towards upgrading a memorial in Malaysia, which marks the site where more than 3000 Australian and other allied prisoners of war were held.

Veterans Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon said the Batu Lintang PoW Campsite Memorial in Sarawak, East Malaysia, served as a lasting reminder of the brutal treatment endured by thousands of Australians during World War II.

Funding would be made available through the Overseas Privately-Constructed Memorial Restoration Programme to ensure the memorial continued to provide a solemn place of reflection, the Australian Associated Press reports. The upgrading work will involve landscaping and installation of a visitor seating area.

More than 15,000 Australian soldiers became prisoners of Japanese forces with the surrender of Singapore in February, 1942. Batu Lintang, also known as Kuching PoW camp, operated as a labour camp,
with soldiers and civilians held captive for more than three years.

Throughout this period, prisoners endured harsh conditions including forced labour, food shortages and disease.

Following closure of the camp, the graves of about 500 who died during incarceration were moved to the Labuan War Cemetery in Malaysia.

“To honour their memory, the Batu Lintang PoW Campsite Memorial was established within the grounds of a nearby teachers training college in 1947,” Snowdon said in a statement. — Bernama

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Batu Lintang war memorial to be upgraded

  1. Is a brochure /leaflet of this memorial or even a close up of the inscription available? And how can I obtain it?
    My father died in this camp in 1945 and I would appreciate any photos of the area as it is today.Thank you…Ted Marriott (Jnr)

    Posted by Edward (Ted) Marriott | June 10, 2012, 02:48

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