Lismore Rotary Club secretary Brian Wheatley with stained-glass craftsman Greg Gallpen.
Lismore Rotary Club secretary Brian Wheatley with stained-glass craftsman Greg Gallpen. Jacklyn Wagner

Atrocity victims honoured

WHEN people think about Australia's war history they often think of Gallipoli and Kokoda but few consider the atrocities committed in Sandakan during the Second World War.

With almost 1800 Australian servicemen killed, the Sandakan "death march" is considered the greatest single atrocity committed against Australians in war.

A new stained glass window memorial will be unveiled tomorrow at St Andrews Anglican Church, to honour the sacrifices made by those in the Sandakan POW camps and on the Sandakan death march.

Rotary Club Of Lismore Secretary Brain Wheatley said the work which was commissioned by the club commemorated the 45 servicemen from the Richmond Valley Catchment who lost their lives at Sandakan.

"I hope people will get some relief and some closure through the fact that they are being acknowledged," Mr Wheatley said. "The overwhelming response to the window so far is one of closure."

Mr Wheatley said they expected about 120 family members to attend the ceremony as well as many more members of the Northern Rivers community.

Records show nearly 2400 Australian and British prisoners of the Japanese in Borneo died when they were forced to walk 260 kilometres through the jungles and mountains of Borneo.

The Rotary Club of Lismore was given funding to help build and install the stained glass window at St Andrews Anglican Church, by the department of veterans' affairs and through an anonymous grant.

The memorial is the culmination of work from renowned designer Bill Klease and local stained glass artist Greg Gallpen.

A service of dedication will be tomorrow at 10.30am.

 

Fact Box:

1787 Australian service men died POW death camps and on the Sandakan death march.

Of the 2345 Australian and British prisoners there were no survivors.

Prisoners were forced to walk 260 kilometres through the jungles and mountains of Borneo.



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