The Military History Society of NSW is for those interested in military history from ancient and modern times from NSW, Australia and the globe.

Dr Kevin Smith OAM on Sandakan – An Unanticipated Captivity

The Military History Society of New South Wales Incorporated presents

Dr Kevin Smith OAM – Member and Councillor of the Society


Sandakan – An Unanticipated Captivity

After their large scale success in the early months of the Second World War the Japanese found themselves with large numbers of Allied prisoners of war without knowing what to do with them. In July 1942 they began to transfer some 3000 Australian and British prisoners (mostly Australians) to Sandakan on the Island of Borneo to build an airfield. Some 2,030 of these were Australians, mostly from the 8th Division, AIF. Only 218 Australians survived their incarceration.

Dr Smith will describe the experiences of these Australians as they endured their three and a half years of horrific captivity from the Fall of Singapore in February 1942 until the final Japanese surrender in1945. He will describe events and conditions in the Camp and at work on the airfield, including the ninety odd attempts to escape along with the civilian resistance movement and its links with a similar group among the prisoners and the horrors of the Death Marches that characterised the approaching Japanese defeat.

Saturday, 9 April 2016, 2.00pm

Anzac Room, 99 York St Conference and Function Centre, Sydney

Entry is free. RSVP is essential by 6 April 2016 as numbers are restricted (02) 9660-7225 / 0418 400 825 or email