Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Aussie Minister, envoy relive the Death March

Kota Kinabalu: Australian Minister of Veterans Affairs Alan Griffins' official participation in the memorial service at Kundasang War Memorial was well publicised. But his Death March track action wasn't.

Griffins and Penny Williams, the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, walked five km of the tail-end of the historic trail that are mainly farmlands now, between Nabutan to Narapak (Sabah Tea) on Dec 14.

Griffins' original plan was to fly to Sandakan first, then drive overland to Kundasang War Memorial, for a real feel of Australia's most tragic military chapter in history that saw a 99.7pc kill rate of over 1,700 their prisoners of war.

Meaning, at Telupid, he would tackle the toughest and most realistic of it all - a very steep and tough jungle-clad Bauto Hill segment of the original Death March trail near Telupid which would best replicate the grueling conditions hundreds of Australian walked to their eventual death in 1945.

That plan had to be dropped when War Graves officials made a last minute change in travelling mode, that is, drive overland to Sandakan, instead of flying.

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