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“In this their finest hour”

Borneo Investigation Report


Letter From PWLO 9 Div


                            HQ Kuching Force

                            PW/051/14 - 9

                            14 Sep 1945

Dear Colonel Lunn,

I will try and give you a general picture of what has been done her since we Landed on 11th September 1945.

I attended a conference at the Town Hospital at 1121001 when Lt Col Morgan, SMO Kuching Force, who had been flown in four days earlier gave the Medical picture regarding all PoWs and Internees. The figures are very rough and may be 20 out either way. A total of about 850 (730 PoWs, 120 Internees) had to be evacuated through medical channels and approximately 1150 were fit enough to travel through normal army arrangements. A good proportion of the latter will need hospitalisation on arrival at Labuan. Approximately 280 medical cases were to be held here for 7-10 days as they are at present too sick to be moved. The bulk of them are British ORs. There are NO Australians seriously ill and only one mental case.

Evacuation commenced on 12 September. The following ships have departed to date:-





12th September

USS Barnes



13th September

USS Willoughby







14th September

HMAS Bundaberg



11/14 September








It is aticipated that the strip will be serviceable on 15th September when air evacuation will commence.

Since 3rd September 21 British ORs have died. One civilian was killed during air dropping of supplies. A number of other PoWs will probably die in the next few days.

At 1209001 I had a conference with Lt Col Suga, the Japanese commander of POW and Internee Camps in Borneo. At my request he handed over the following documents:-

  1. Nominal roll of all PoWs and Internees at Kuching Barracks.
  2. Nominal roll of all sick personnel at present in Camp Hospital and Town Hospital.
  3. Card Index of all PoWs and Internees in Borneo
  4. Nominal roll of all deceased personnel at Sandakan ? early 1945.
  5. Nominal roll of all deceased personnel at Kuching including location and identification of graves.
  6. Niminal roll of certain PoWs and Internees moved out of Borneo to Singapore and other places.

This afternoon Lt Col Suga handed over to Comd Kuching Force all pay records and camp routine orders. Maj Frager, British Army, assisi

ted the Japanese Paymaster in pay matters and it is proposed to get a statement from him at Labuan covering all aspects of pay.

Col Suga advised me that after the Japanese had surrendered he had burnt all security documents in his possession. All official files and records excepting those enumerated in paras 6 and 7 have been destroyed.

Col Suga stated that he received all his orders from Southern Army through 37 Army on Borneo. He maintained that he was not empowered to have any PoW or Internees without instructions from Comd 37 Army.

At present he is still at lintang Barracks where he is readily available for interrogation. A complete list of his admin. staff and Guards has been obtained.

One PoW C and E Officer returned to Labuan on 13th September with all Japanese records relating to Allied PoWs and internees in Borneo other then at Kuching. A niminal roll of “B” Force kept by Lt Col A W Walsh, AIF, has been handed to me to deliver to Ech on Labuan.

Up to 1420001 C and E Teams had identified just over half the total number of PoWs and Internees, All Australians have been indentified and notification despatched by Immediate Signal. Nominal rolls of all other PoWs and Internees are being prepared for transmission by SDS and are being despatched as transport permits.

It has not been an easy task for the Contact Teams as such a large number of people were evacuated within the first 48 hours. They have had to contend with local camp parades, medical inspections and a generally haphazard local organisation. Part of the PoW Camp Staff were evacuated almost immediately and consequently these who took over were rather out of the picture. However I anticipate that identification will be completed by 18th September.

PoWs and Internees are remaining at Lintang Barracks until directly evacuated. there was a scheme to stage them at Reception Centre pending evacuation but they asked to stay where they were and it makes things a lot easier if they do.

The women and children are being evacuated last - also at their own request. They are physically far better then the men and look really quite well although rather thin.

The supply dropping was undoubtedly a great boon to everyone and saved many lives. Most of the PoWs have put on a stone since 19th August. They are now eating four regular meals a day.

Owing to the chance of an Allied attack on Kuching the Japanese were preparing a new Compound at Dahan approximately 21 miles South of Kuching, to which they were going to move all PoWs and Internees. Movement was due to commence a few days after the surrender was announced. This would most certainly have resulted in a great many deaths by the wayside as even Officers a month ago were incapable of any more then a couple of hours gardening a day. Orders for this move reached Lt Col Suga, so he says, through Maj Gen Yamamura. There are approximately 51 Indonesian PoWs still in the Dahan area. They had been taken down as an advance party to prepare the new site. Lt Col Suga assures me that they were fit and being well fed. They are due to return to Kuching within the next three days.

I have visited the cemetery by the Compound, a photograph of which I sent to Maj Badenoch some time ago. There are nearly 600 graves there, each with a wooden cross. Nearly all have their names and date of death on them. Deaths were so numerous in the last two months that a number of graves were just marked with a reference number. The names are all shown though on a key chart. There are also a number of graves at the Roman Catholic Cemetery and at the Church of England Cemetery in the town. I do not anticipate any difficulty in identifying all graves and deceased personnel in this area.

To date I have not heard of a single major atrocity perpetrated at Kuching. There is one instance of three Dutchmen being beheaded at Pontianak and Lt Andersen, NEI, who witnessed the incident will pass the detailed information to the Contact Teams on his return to Labuan.

There have been NO cases of removal of personal property or gear by the Japanese. personal effects of deceased PoWs have been collected by the Japs up untill the 15th August and they claim that all such effects have been sent to Tokyo. Since the 15th August personal effects have been collected by the british Camp Staff. I have arranged for them to be placed in sealed envelopes with name, NOK etc. marked on the outside and they will be returned to Ech Labuan for onward transmission to LHQ.

Discipline has been sever and there are innumerable incidents of face slapping, beatings, kickings, standing with arms outstretched, staring at the sun for an hour or more, and countless other things of that nature. Females in the camp have suffered these punishments also but they have never been molested.

the men have been wearing loin cloths for well over a year now and many were barefooted. The women, thanks to Chinese assistance outside the Compound, have managed to be adequately clothed.

I am taking an Official Photographer around the camp tomorrow to photograph the living conditions, latrines, cookhouse, ablutions and other aspects which may prove of value to DPW & I. he will also photograph the three graves. I will leave my comments on living conditions until I can illustrate them with these photographs.

The food has been completed, inadequate and the greater part of all deaths can be traced directly to slow starvation. I saw some of the rank fish which PoWs were expected to eat. No animal would have eaten it. They lived for most part on about 7 onces of rice per day and on vegetables grown in the Compound. The local Chinese on many occasions have smuggled food through the wires.

I wanted to have a look at the new Compound at Dahan but that will not be possible for a week or more. As I intend returning to labuan on 17th or 18th September I will have to forgo that inspection. However, an Official Photographer will be here for about a fortnight and I will arrange for him to take some photographs if possible.

The Contact Teams are planning on returning to Labuan about 19th September.

I am enclosing a memo given me by Lt Col Suga setting out certain information regarding PoW Camps in British Borneo. You will notice thet he has endeavoured to disassociate himself entirely with the Sandakan-Ranau movement, and he also denies any knowledge of the fate of the PoWs at Miri. He mentions that he has been out of communication with these places since early this year. Until we can establish to what extent he is directly responsible for movement of PoWs in Borneo and for the inadequate ration scale, his position is very obscure. he is being evacuated in the near future for detailed interrogation on Labuan.

If there is any specific information which you require that I have omitted in this letter would you be kind enough to let me know ?



                        Signed L G Darling Capt

                        Aust PWLO 9 Aust Div


[Borneo Investigation Report] [Part One] [Part Two] [Part Three] [Part Four] [Letter fro m PWLO 9 Div] [Full Kuching Numbers Released] [Part Five]





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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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