THE JOURNEY TO SANDAKAN - 2003
This has been a most memorable year for me for several reasons. I went in April to Borneo to see where my father suffered and died – at the 19 th mile point on the death march to Ranau on June 2 nd 1945.
I was fortunate to have my brother's company in doing this pilgrimage and this too was significant as he has not lived in Western Australia since he graduated as an Engineer and left to follow his career overseas. I have seen him only occasionally since his return to Australia, which is a big loss for a family as small as mine – my widowed mother and myself. No other relatives have ventured to Australia.
So Huw was with me to say farewell to our father, at Sandakan, at the place where his body was recovered, and finally at Labuan, where he was buried as one of the three who were found at that location. Huw placed Alwyn's medals on the grave, with a bunch of daffodils and sang for him 'Land of my Fathers' in Welsh. We have never considered ourselves as anything but true Australians, but in our hearts we are still Welsh.
This journey was emotionally at times overwhelming, but has for me achieved some healing, especially as my mother was never able to make the trip – we said goodbye for her too. I am happy that Huw will be with me again to see our Borneo Exhibition in which we pay a tribute to those men whose story has been for so long untold
I would recommend to any of you who might consider going to Sandakan that there is the possibility of great benefit in coming to terms with that tragedy of the men who endured such atrocities for so long, and surely deserved to be returned to us. And in saying a last goodbye.
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