To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”


Labuan Party


Compiled with the help of:-

‘Sandakan - A Conspiracy of Silence’

by Lynette Ramsay Silver


At Sandakan in June 1944, Hushijima received orders to transfer 100 prisoners, which included one Australian and one officer, Flight-Lieutenant Blackledge, to the west coast of Labuan Island. The party were to work on an airfield, built to defend the coast and Brunei Bay.  The party were under the command of Captain Nagai.

In August a further 200 were transferred from Kuching, these included Captain Campbell, RAMC.  The party were mainly British with five Australians.

By December 1944 more then one third of those who left Sandakan had died on Labuan Island from malaria, this was mainly due to the shortage of food making them easy prey to decease. 

Colonel Suga then put Sergeant- Major Sugino in charge to move the remainder to Kuching, by the time of the move in June 1945, the death toll had risen to 188 of the 300 prisoners. Those 112 who remained were moved on the 7th June 1944.

The British reached Bruinei and were housed in a hut originally occupied by Japanese Coolies. On the 8th May the remaining 81 were moved to Kuala Belait, leaving behind 30 who had died and one missing, thought to have died after an escape attempt in Kempei-tai hands. Seven Indian soldiers who were being held by the Kempei-tai joined this party making it 88.

After the next move to Miri on 27th May 1945, 37 more prisoners had perished, the party was now 51. The prisoners were ordered to Tanjung Lobang, a compound behind the Residents House. The barbed wire compound was built in 1941 as a Japanese Interment Camp.

On 8th June 1945 Allied ships approached  the west coast, Sugino moved the 46 remaining prisoners down a jungle track to Riam Road where they stopped near a police station. 14 fit prisoners then went back to the Residents House compound to pick up food, they made two trips by this time 2 more prisoners had died.

Sugino was then ordered to take his 44 remaining prisoners into the mountains, after two hours of travelling they reached the 6 mile peg and were housed in a small house. Sugino then burnt all the papers and effects of the dead prisoners. On the 10th June another food party was sent out leaving 28 prisoners under Blackledge at the 6 mile peg. On this date the Australian 9th Division landed at Brunei Bay, less then 200 kilometres away. Japanese policy dictated that under attack all prisoners would be killed. Sugino later reported that one prisoner tried to escape and the guards opened fire, bringing the other prisoners out of the house, they were shot or bayoneted by the guards, killing all 28 prisoners.

Sugino then took some of the guards back towards the Resident House compound and met the returning food party at the 5 mile peg. Once again Sugino claimed that one prisoner tried to escape, the prisoners all died.

Not one of the 300 prisoners sent to Labuan Island survived.

Sugino was shot on Miri for murder.




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