To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

Borneo Investigation Report

Part Three

Investigations in the

Labuan - Miri - Area



Labuan Island Map

(click on map to enlarge)

By 1944 the Japanese had become aware of the value of Brunei Bay as a major fleet anchorage and about may 1944 they decided to build an airstrip on Labuan to give it additional air cover.

Capt. Nagai was appointed to command the camp and he arrived on Labuan with 100 British PoWs from Sandakan on 16th June 1944. A further 200 PoWs were brought from Kuching, arriving on 15th August 1944 and amongst these there appears to have been a sprinkling of Australian PoWs.

The Japanese reported that 5 Australian PoWs died on Labuan and amongst articles recovered from the PoW Compound there were a number belonging to Australian personnel.

The camp was originally sited in the grounds of the Victoria Golf Club but owing to the increase of Allied air raids over the waterfront area as the year progressed the site was moved to a new compound approximately 3 miles North of the harbour. It was here that the PoWs were kept until they departed for Brunei on 7th March 1945 (see above map).

It appears that the health of the PoWs began to deteriorate very rapidly after October 1944 and that malaria and malnutrition caused many deaths. The PoWs were engaged on  airfield construction each day and it is obvious that their physical condition was no match for the forced labour which they had to do.

Capt. Nagai claims that the PoWs were given quinine to alleviate their malaria. Even if this is correct, the amount issued was inadequate and in no way stopped the death rate from increasing.

Approximately 40 PoWs died near the original compound and were buried nearby. When Australian troops landed here on 10th June 1945 the graves were unmarked and neglected. On 23rd January 1945 Capt. Nagai departed fro Ranau and his place was taken by Sjt Major Sugino. At this date 163 PoWs had died on Labuan.

Sugino continued to work his 137 on the airfield until 7th March during which their strength was reduced to 118.

It had been obvious to the Japanese for some time that further labour by the PoWs on the airfield would not be worth while, and on 7th March Sugino took 112 survivors to Brunei where they were kept in a compound till 3rd May 1945.

By this time their health was too far gone for them to work and they were kept confined to the compound on virtually starvation rations. 30 PoWs died during their stay at Brunei.

From there Suhino took his 82 PoWs to Kuala Belait where they were quartered in the local picture theatre. They remained here until 26th May 1945 during which time 37 PoWs died - an average of three deaths every two days.

On one night in May the PoWs were taken away and confined in a small compound at Tg Lobang, approximately 1 mile South of Miri. 5 PoWs died here up to 13th June, when the remaining 40 European PoWs and 7 Indian PoWs whom Sugino had collected at Kuala Belait were killed by the Japanese on the Riam Road.

The compound at Lobang was visited by PWLO 9 Australian  Div on 28th July 1945. It had been soaked with petrol and burnt to the ground. Amongst the metal badges recovered were Australian shoulder titles and rising sun hat badges. A quarter of charred personal letters was recovered but the compound had been destroyed with such thoroughness by the Japanese that very little evidence of real value was recovered.

It is significant that the PoWs were killed on 13th June, 3 days after the 9 Australian Div landing in the Brunei Bay area. Consistent with previous Japanese practice, Sugino ordered the execution of the PoWs rather than risk the possibility that some might be recovered by the Allies at a later date.

Sources of Information

Interrogation of local Malays, Chinese and Eurasions. Mr C.J. Cook, an American residing on Labuan, whose Eurasian son had remained on the island during the Japanese occupation, gave invaluable assistance as a guide, obtaining native informants and as an interpreter.

Detailed searches of compound and graves areas.

Interrogation of Capt. Nagai the Japanese Officer who established the PoW Camp on Labuan, and of Sjt Maj Sugino who took over from Capt Nagai early in 1945.

Capt. Nagai Interrogation

Capt Nagai, while at Sandakan in April 1944, was appointed to command the new PoW Camp which was to be established on Labuan. He departed by sea from Sandakan with 100 British PoWs and arrived at Labuan on 16th June 1944. A further party of 200 PoWs arrived from Kuching on 15th August 1944.

Amongst the PoWs from Kuching were at least 4 and probably twice that umber of Australian PoWs. The total PoW on Labuan was 300, nearly all British. The PoWs from Kuching included many personnel who previously had been at Dahan, 20 miles South of Kuching. Amongst them was an MO, Capt Campbell.

The compound was established near Victoria Harbour in the grounds of the Golf Course.

Up till October 1944 there were very few sick but from then on malaria took heavy toll. Nagai states that the PoWs were issued with quinine which did not halt the incidence of malaria and which caused the PoWs to be “very sick in the stomach” - No doubt due to lack of food. He states that food was very short for both PoWs and Japanese.

During the later months of 1944 the dead were cremated and buried in No 1  Cemetery. As a result of Allied air raids in late 1944 on the harbour area, the PoW Compound was moved to the 3 Mile Post. The deceased from there were not cremated and were buried in No 2 Cpmound.

Interrogation of Local Inhabitants

It was Japanese policy to keep all natives away from areas occupied by PoWs. Any who were caught talking to PoWs were severely punished. As a result little information of any reliability could be obtained from this source.

The following is a resume of the information extracted:-

  1. The PoWs were thin and weak.
  2. They were often beaten by the guards when unable to carry out their tasks which were far too severe for their physical condition.
  3. The PoWs worked on Labuan Airfield.
  4. There were Australian PoWs among them. A Malay named Achol, domiciled on Labuan, stated that he once spoke to a PoW and asked “Are you British?”, the PoW replied “No, I am Australian of 8 Div”.


Summery of Movement in Miri - Brunei - Kuala Belait Area

There were 3 main parties in the area, they were

          • Sugino  Party
          • Kamimura Party
          • Shimozawa Party

Sugino Party

Total 112 PoWs, probably British from Labuan


Died in Brunei 7th March 1945 to 3rd May 1945


Died in Kuala Belait 3rd May 1945 to 27th May 1945


Died in Miri 27th May 1945 to 9th june 1945


Killed at Riam Road 10th June 1945


Total Deaths


The 7 difference between 112 and 119 is due to the fact that 7 Indians were given to Sugino at Kuala Belait

Apart from the 47 killed at Riam Road the others allegedly died of malaria and beri beri.

 Sjt Maj Sugino Interrogation

O 23rd January 1945 Capt. Nagai left Labuan for Jesselton and Ranau. His second in command, Sugino, took charge of the PoWs on Lanuan. Sugino states that he took over 157 PoWs, 143 having already died between 16th June 1944 and 23rd January 1945. From 23 rd January to 7th March 1945 a further 45 PoWs died on Labuan.

In March, Sugino moved the remaining 112 PoWs by sea to Brunei where they remained until 3rd May 1945. 30 PoWs died at Brunei.

From 3rd May to 26th May they were quartered at Kuala Belait. 37 PoWs died there. From 26th May to 8th June they lived in a small compound at Tg Lobang, just South of Miri. 5 PoWs died at the compound.

On 13th June 1945 the remaining 40 were taken down the Riam Road and killed by the Japanese.

Kamimura Party

Total 210 PoWs from Kuching, all Indian.


Died in Seria


Died in Kuala Belait


Killed in Kuala Belait


Died at Labi


Total Deaths




Balance 122




Transferred to Kuching


Transferred to Sugino Party


Escaped on way to Dutch Borneo (probably died)


Escaped from Kuala Belait (bulk recovered)




it is considered that the 89 that escaped from Kamimura at Kuala Belait were subsequently recovered, these 89 together with the 107 left at Luong, the 34 left at Pujut and the 19 given to Lt Fraser, total 229, which is approximately the number of Indian PoWs recovered from the area.

Shimozawa Party

Total 220 PoWs stationed at Lutong, all Indian probably from Kuching


Died at Lutong 1st May 1945 to June 1945


Killed at Lutong Bridge 18th June 1945


Killed at Pangarron Piniku 27th June 1945


Total Deaths




Transferred to Kuching


Transferred to Miri - Kempai Tai


Escaped up Miri River


Escaped at Pangarron Piniku






Left at Lutong PoW Camp


Left at Pujut PoW Camp


Handed to Lt Fraser 6th October 1945




Full Statements by:-

Indian PoWs Luong - Miri

 In April 1943 there were approximately 430 Indian PoWs in the Seria - Lutong area. 210 were at Seria and 220 were at Lutong. They were organised by the Japanese into Special Labour Units and worked on the oil fields near their respective camps.

At this stage of the war, with the Japanese army still undefeated in Burma and their propaganda crying out for a Free India, it was Japanese policy to treat the Indians rather differently from the other PoWs. However by late 1944, with Burma a lost cause, their attitude changed to one of extreme severity and brutality. The Indians were whipped; some massacred; many of them escaped and came through the Allied lines during the fighting. Their courage and endurance during these later months and their unswerving loyalty to the Empire are worthy of special mention.

It can not be accurately ascertained how many Indian PoWs were sent to Borneo as no complete records are available. However it appears that approximately 550 was the maximum figure. Of these 404 have been recovered, 57 are known to be be dead and the remaining 70 - 80 odd are unaccounted for and presumed dead.

Cases Dealt with by Nos. 5 & 10 Contact Teams

      • Report - Killings of PoWs and civilians

 Death Roll at Labuan Island


It is considered that investigations in the Labuan - Miri area are now completed.

Although it is not possible to identify individual graves, all European graves have been located besides a number of Indian PoW graves.

The bodies of all PoWs in the Brunei - Miri area are already buried in the Labuan War Cemetery or Labuan Indian War Cemetery, and it is anticipated that the 189 PoW graves at present scattered on Labuan will be collected in the Labuan War Cemetery by 31 December 1945.

The graves of the European PoW are each marked with a white cross inscribed “Unidentified PoW of Unknown Nationalities”. Those in the Indian War Cemetery are marked in the appropriate manner.


[Borneo Investigation Report] [Part One] [Part Two] [Part Three] [Labuan Map] [Sjt Maj  Sugino Statement] [Maj Ikegami Tomoyuki Statement] [2/Lt Shimozawa Takaharu Statem ent] [Cases Dealt With] [Part Four] [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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