More than 2500 soldiers were sent to the infamous Sandakan war camp in Malaysia during WWII, yet only six survived.
Over 2000 of those prisoners of war were Australian, many of them from northern NSW and serving in the 8th Division when they were captured in Singapore by the Japanese.
On Friday evening those soldiers will be remembered at the annual service in Anzac Park, with Tamworth one of only eleven Australian centres to have an official Sandakan Memorial according to RSL sub-branch president Bob Chapman.
“Sandakan was one of the most cruel and devastating events to happen during the second World War – those soldiers suffered some barbaric treatment,” he said.
“It is really gratifying to be able to perform a service in Tamworth because so many of those men were from around these parts – to recognise that loss is very important.”
Mr Chapman is hoping that the service can draw a decent crowd on Friday night, in a year where the local RSL sub branch and national branch have suffered a few setbacks, including vandalism and fraud.
“The numbers have been declining at this service in recent years because of the ageing population, and I think the younger generation are fairly busy working,” he said.
“We will still get our old faithfuls and a few dignitaries – the Anzac Day service is growing in numbers every year which is great to see.”
The sub branch will also use the day to mark another occasion with Father Chris Wright leading the ceremony following the passing of Father Tom Shanahan late last year.
The ceremony is open to the public and will commence at 5pm at the Sandakan Memorial in Anzac Park.