To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

Borneo Investigation Report

Part Two

Investigations in the

Jesselton Area



Jesselton in Relation to Sandakan and Ranau

History of Jesselton

It is estimated that 889 British PoW arrived at Jesselton on 13th October 1942.

They were transferred by ship to Sandakan in early April 1943. 51 PoWs died over this period. Their graves were identified.

A more detailed report will follow by Capt D.A. Worrell of investigations carried out in the Jesselton area.

Report of Activities of Contact Teams Nos 7 & 8 at Jesselton

The teams were as follows:-

Team No 7

VX22664 - Capt. D.A. Worrell


NX20664 - Cpl. J.T.C. Nagle



Team No 8

QX16120 - Capt. A. Boyland


NX147641 - Sgt. D.R. Whitelaw

Movement of PoWs

Contact teams Nos 7 & 8 conducted inquiries into PoW movements at Jesselton B N B, and commenced this work on the 31st October 1945.

British Force of 838 PoWs arrived at Jesselton during the latter period of October 1942. This Force was quartered at Victoria Gaol, which was destroyed during 1945 by RAAF and Allied bombing. The remains of the buildings which comprised Victoria Gaol were searched, and a list of names which was written on the walls.















Hall J E


Rogers J (COS)




Roth M J






“I was locked up on 7/4 K P”

Death certificates for all the above named PoWs with the exceptions of Roth M J and Simmonds have been provided by the Japanese. The correct identity and fate of Roth and Simmonds was not established.

No personal articles or identify discs were found.

The PoWs were subsequently transferred to Sandakan and left Jesselton during April 1943.

Graves and Burial Information

During the period of their stay in Jesselton at least 51 deaths of RAF and British Army personnel occurred. 48 of these deceased personnel were buried in a specially prepared area adjacent to the English Section of the Protestant Cemetery.

There is a ‘Monument’ consisting of a large unmarked wooden cross and a post bearing Japanese characters, understtod to read ‘British PoW Cemetery’. The PoWs were interred in neat rows, each marked with a small wooden cross bearing personal particulars of the deceased person. It is understood that the bodies of these PoWs were cremated before burial. The fact that the PoWs are buried separately but very close together suggests that this is the case.

The Japanese Officer in charge of the PoWs at Jesselton during the period December 1942 to April 1943 was Captain Nagai. This Japanese Officer was interrogated and stated that 48 of the PoWs who had died at Jesselton were cremated.

A further search resulted in the discovery of 3 additional graves of PoWs and these were located in the Civilian Section of the English Section of the Protestant Cemetery. These graves were marked with crosses bearing personal particulars, but the numbers given on the crosses were evidently Japanese allotted PoW numbers as opposed to the Regimental Numbers shown on the other 48 crosses.

During interrogation, Capt. Nagai stated that 19 sick PoWs were left at Jesselton Hospital when the main force was transferred to Sandakan. Three of these subsequently died and the remainder were transferred to Sandakan.

A list of the names taken was handed to 23 Australian War Graves Unit. Jaoanese death certificates for these PoWs are held and it is considered that these are only PoWs who died at Jesselton.

Interrogation of natives elicited the fact that while at Jesselton, PoWs were engaged on aerodrome construction work. Rumours that PoWs died whilst working at the aerodrome, and that mass burning of bodies took place, were investigated. No conformation could be obtained and it is considered that these rumours were untrue. probably the rumour originated from the fact that coolies working on the aerodrome died and their bodies cremated near to where they were working.

Information regarding the burial of a RAAF Liberator crew and three AIF members of Forward Advance Unit were obtained. The burial was conducted by Major Coombe (SRD) and a statement recorded and handed to the RAAF representative at Labuan.

Graves of Aircraft Crew, RAAF At Kudat



Anderson, John Collin William

200 Flight



Cormack, Phillip Hector

200 Flight



Davern, Owen William John

200 Flight



Emmett, Kieth Roy Norman

200 Flight



Graham, John Oswald

200 Flight



Proudlock, Ralph

200 Flight



Shorter, Ernest Travers

200 Flight



Starr, Lawrence James

200 Flight



Theyer, Ernest Frederick

200 Flight



Taylor, Reginald Lee

200 Flight





Graves of Passengers



Eltham, T.I. AIF, SRD




Mclaren, AIF, SRD




Hardy, K, AIF, SRD


The above crew and passengers were in RAAF Liberator A72-177 which crashed into a tree, on 21st May 1945, whilst on operation 2 miles West of Melobong village, 06 deg 58’ North, 117 deg 07’ East. The crash occurred in open country.

Major Coombe, AIF witnessed the crash and as soon as possible made a thorough search and identified the remains of about 9 bodies. The remains were burnt beyond recognition and buried in the vicinity of the crash. The graves were in a row and marked with white crosses. They were buried by Major Commbes and capt. W.K.C. May, RAMC.


Interrogation of natives at Jesselton and Tuaran indicated that there was a possibility of either British or Australian PoWs being moved towards Jesselton via Tuaran in May or June 1945. Extensive interrogation of natives, Chinese and members of the guerilla forces which operated in Tuaran district proved conclusively that such rumours were without foundation.

24 Australian Inf Bde, some 10 weeks before the arrival of Contact teams had appointed a War Crimes Officer who was working in conjunction with FS Section. Obtaining statements of war crimes, arresting and interrogating Japanese in this area, had progressed to such an extent NO assistance from Contact Teams was required.

In general, NO evidence of ill-treatment of PoWs, except in so far as they were being under fed, could be established. The fact that PoWs were segregated from the native population, who were afraid to approach the area where they were located, rendered it impossible to obtain information as to the treatment of PoWs.

Movement of PoWs from Jesselton

13 Oct. 1942


British PoWs arrived from Kuching. The Japanese Officer in Command was Lt Nakata




Dec. 1943


Capt. Nagai assumed command




18th Apr. 1943


PoWs transferred to Sandakan




May (?) 1943


PoWs transferred to Sandakan



Deaths at Jesselton

Total Deaths



The bodies of the deceased PoWs at Jesselton Cemetery were exhumed.

The graves in Kudat area were cleared as the area was becoming overgrown and was prooving difficult to locate.

Chinese Rebellion

There were two uprisings of the Chinese population during the period of the Japanese occupation. The first rebellion (known locally as the Jesselton 10x10 Uprising) occurred on 10th October 1943 and the second was planned to commence in February 1944. Both rebellions were ruthlessly suppressed by the Japanese who sent many members of the Kempei Tai to Jesselton for that perpose. It is estimated that over 1000 Chinese residents and natives were executed or killed as a result of these uprisings. No PoWs were located at Jesselton at that time and beyond assisting the BBCAU in interrogating some alleged collaborators, inquiries were not pursued as this matter was not considered to be within the scope of PoW investigation.

Investigations re the movements and deaths of PoWs at Jesselton was complete.


[Borneo Investigation Report] [Part One] [Part Two] [Jesselton] [Sandakan] [Sandakan Mar ches] [Part Three] [Part Four] [Part Five]





Britain at War


Email Arthur Lane 

In Memory of Fred Taylor,  John Weedon and Arthur Lane
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[Borneo Investigation Report] [Part One] [Part Two] [Jesselton] [Sandakan] [Sandakan Graves] [I dentification from Paybooks] [Sandakan Marches] [Ranau Burial Areas] [Part Three] [Labuan Ma p] [Sjt Maj Sugino Statement] [Maj Ikegami Tomoyuki Statement] [2/Lt Shimozawa Takaharu Stat ement] [Cases Dealt With] [Part Four] [Letter from PWLO 9 Div] [Full Kuching Numbers Release d] [Part Five] [Major Suga Speech] [1/Lt Watanabe Statement] [Hashimoti Maao Statement] [S/M  Beppu, Yoichi Statement] [Japanese Death Reports] [Atrocities] [600 Gunners Party] [Labuan Pa rty] [Sandakan] [Java] [Roll of Honour]

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