Of the 2,434 prisoners incarcerated at Sandakan, 1,787 were Australian. The remaining 641 were British. The six Australians who escaped were the sole survivors. The rest were annihilated.
Sabah Tea Plantation and the Death Marches
The track cut especially to create the Death March route across the interior, and linking Sandakan to Ranau, connected two existing tracks. One was near Sandakan. The other went from Ranau to the river at Tampias, 31 miles away, where local people continued their journey eastwards, by boat.
In 2005, when local trekking expert Tham Yau Kong and Australian historian Lynette Silver, plotted and located the original route taken by the prisoners of war, they discovered that part of the old track passed through the area now occupied by the Sabah Tea Plantation.
Using wartime documentation, they identified the place where Private Allan Quailey had been murdered in February 1945 and suggested that it be named ‘Quailey’s Hill’ in his honour. The management of Sabah Tea Gardens, on realising the significance of the site, not only agreed but also created a memorial at the spot, with a granite plaque outlining the circumstances of Private Quailey’s death. This plaque was jointly unveiled by Datuk Masidi Manjun (Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Environment, Sabah), Senator Anne McEwen (Senator for South Australia), Lynette Silver, and Goh Mung Chwee (Executive Director, Sabah Tea Sdn Bhd) at a ceremony held on 14 July, 2007.
The management of Sabah Tea invites all visitors to visit the the memorial rock and plaque, on the crest of ‘Quailey’s Hill‘, to the east of the car park.
Private Allan Quailey
……. As they continued along the track the following morning, it was obvious that something was the matter with Quailey. A friend, who stayed behind to help him, realised it was not just the beriberi, the malaria, or the uphill trek that was the problem. He seemed to have lost the will to go on. At the top of the ridge, he slumped against a tree, refusing all entreaties to go any further. Fully realising that he was signing his own death warrant, his friend urged him to make one final effort. It made no difference. Quailey’s fate was sealed. In accordance with their orders to dispose of anyone who could not keep up, the Japanese bringing up the rear killed him.
Post-war the bodies of those who had died along the track were recovered and reburied in Labuan War Cemetery. Quailey, who was unidentified, remained ’Know unto God’ until 1999, when historian Lynette Silver located and identified a grave in Labuan as that of Private Quailey. The old headstone was removed and replaced with a new one, bearing his details and an inscription, chosen by his family.