Silence hangs heavily in the air. The sun is just rising on the graves of 3,908 soldiers at the Labuan Commonwealth Cemetery.
Located along Jalan Tanjung Batu, the cemetery, also known as the World War II Memorial, was constructed and is maintained by the Commonwealth Graves Commission.
It honours men of the Australian land and air forces, as well as the local forces, who died valiantly during operations for the recovery of Borneo. Some were prisoners of war in Borneo or the Philippines.
A simple headstone marks the graves of these men, some with poignant descriptions by their families while others, whose names were unknown, are emboldened with the words “Known Unto God”. More than half of the men buried here are unidentified.
The identified burials number 1,752, of these there were 5 sailors, 1, 523 soldiers, 220 airmen and 4 civilians. They were represented by 814 British, 858 Australians, 1 New Zealander, 43 Indians and 36 Malayans, as well as members of the local forces of North Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak. The 34 Indian soldiers, whose remains were cremated, are commemorated on a memorial in the Indian army plot.
The names of the soldiers interred here are also displayed on panels for the benefit of visitors. There are also plaques on the wall recounting the heroics of these brave men.
The present headstones here are newly erected. The cross of sacrifice was also built in the middle of the well-kept garden. Prior to this, the cemetery grounds had simple crosses erected on the ground for each soldier buried here.
The Australian government later officiated at the World War II Memorial grounds in Labuan in June, 1953.
- Each year in November, a Remembrance Day is held in Labuan at the Labuan War Memorial Cemetery to honour these fallen heroes. This year’s Remembrance Day service will be held on 14 November, 2010.
How to get there:
There are daily flights from Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia, as well as flights from Miri on MASWings. Check out their websites for further information: www.malaysiaairlines.com and www.airasia.com.
For further information:
Labuan Tourist Information Centre,
Jalan Dewan / Jalan Berjaya, Labuan 87007,
Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan.
Phone: +6087-423 445 Fax: +6087-423 446