Sandakan is one of the least known – and least commemorated – of WWII wartime atrocities. The officers were separated from their men in October 1943 in order to lessen their influence over them, after a radio and intelligence network was uncovered in the camp. Uniquely, they were the only officers who were required by the Japanese to undertake heavy manual labour along with the other ranks over an extended period of time (twelve months).
This is not a story of atrocities, although torture, beatings and abuse did occur. It is, rather, a story of the struggle to survive with ever diminishing resources and the determination to maintain morale through reading, studying and the unearthing of musical and acting talents.