Kundasang War Memorial & Gardens

Located on a hill at the town center Kundasang, Kundasang War Memorial & Gardens is one of the famous landmarks of the area near Kinabalu Park. This memorial park means a lot to many people who were affected by World War II. It carries the historical significance of remembering those who served in Borneo during WW2 and suffered from war crimes as prisoners of war.

Despite located in a small town, Kundasang War Memorial & Gardens is not a simple rough monument. It was designed with elaborate fine details and space. In a late afternoon, my son and I strolled the four separate gardens that representing the countries of those who died in Sandakan POW camp and during the 3 Sandakan Death Marches. There are Australian Garden, English Garden, Borneo Garden and 'Contemplation Garden' with a reflection pool and pergola. We read the words, stories and names on the walls and monuments and understood the horrific past for the first time.

It is a place worth going and it is very accessible.

A beautifully decorated and well maintained Australian Garden.

The Contemplation Garden.

The establishment of Kundasang War Memorial & Gardens was initiated by Major Gordon Senior 'Toby' Carter DSO and was restored in 2005 by Mr Sevee Charuruks with his own personal funds. Australian government's grants came years later.

The History

We have to understand the significance of this memorial and the events that it represents. It was an overlooked horrific history of World War 2. They were mainly Australian and English soldiers captured at the Battle of Singapore in February 1942. The only survivors of 2,434 prisoners of war in Sandakan POW camp were the 6 who escaped during 2nd Sandakan Death March from Sandakan to Ranau.

In the English Roses Garden.

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There is a good short description of the history in GoodRead on this book "Sandakan: A conspiracy of silence" authored by Lynette Ramsay Silver:
This is the horrific story of the Sandakan Prisoner of War Camp during the closing years of World War II. Only six Australians survived, and details the bungled rescue attempt, where almost all the men died because of mistakes within the senior ranks.

Names in the Contemplation Gardens

Names in the Contemplation Gardens

The book description at Amazon.com on the history:
A plan was put together towards the end of the war to rescue them, as it was known that the Japanese were eliminating prisoners of war as they were forced to retreat. The rescue attempt was bungled through incompetence. Almost all of the men died because of mistakes and stupidity in the senior ranks of the services back in Australia. More than 1,000 could have been saved. The records were hidden so that the mistake would not be revealed.

Lynette Ramsay Silver also wrote a short blog post of the history of this memorial.

Entrance of Kundasang War Memorial.

Late afternoon sunlight shined through the plants and trees in the memorial. The weather was cool and comfortable.

More History about the Memorial

More History about Sandakan POW Camp, Death Marches and World War 2

The Attraction of the Memorial and Gardens

Kundasang War Memorial is a garden park covering the entire little hill located at the town center of Kundasang. Located at approximately 2000 meters above sea level, the weather is usually cool and comfortable.

There is a high lookout place at the Contemplation Garden that you can see the beautiful landscape of Kundasang Valley and the terrace farm land. This lookout place is quite dangerous for young children because the side wall is low. This high lookout place that I stood to take these photo has no fence with wall up to knee height only. You will have to be extra careful if you bring your children to this place.

View from the lookout place, the valley. I pick this photo to show the destruction of development at the top right corner.

The lookout place is high. It has no fence and the wall is low.

All four gardens are beautifully designed and decorated. The atmosphere inside such elaborate memorial park is solemn. People speak softly.

There is a resource center where you can watch video about Sandakan POW camp and the death marches during World War 2.

Cool wind.

You can read the experience of other bloggers who visited this place.

Evening sunlight.

Location and Map

Kundasang War Memorial is about 6.3KM (8 minutes) drive away from Kinabalu Park's Headquarter right at the center of Kundasang town.

You can find our Google map on Kundasang War Memorial here.

Other Places Around Kundasang War Memorial 

You can visit many other places around this area. You may drive from Kundasang War Memorial into the valley towards Mesilau Nature Resort to visit the following places:

  • Desa Cattle Dairy Farm is a beautiful dairy farm with black and white cows. Read more about visiting this famous farm with stunning scenery. It is about 4KM into the Kundasang Valley.
  • Dream World Resort is just a "few steps" away from the dairy farm. At the hillside along the road from Kundasang Town, you turn left to Desa Cattle Dairy Farm or turn right to Dream World Resort. It has a magnificent view of Mount Kinabalu (due to proximity, the mountain looks HUGE at Dream World Resort) and the landscape of Kundasang Valley.
  • Mesilau Nature Resort

Other Resources on Kundasang War Memorial

A little beautiful (and cozy inside) rest place and souvenir shop.


Borneo Garden. For the locals who risked their life helping British and Australian POW.