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Here to experience the Death March
Published on: Thursday, July 28, 2016

Kota Kinabalu: Twenty-seven UK Sutton Valence School (SVS) Combined Cadet Force (CCF) including seven girls are here to mount a five-day 63km Death March trek through its forested section from Bauto to Muruk, Ranau, which ends July 30.On arrival at Muruk on July 30, the group will proceed to the Kundasang War Memorial for a small ceremony, including wreath-laying and reading out prisoners of war names.

Major John Tulloch, a retired Jungle Warfare Instructor and brain child behind this first ever UK CCF group to walk part of the 1945 Death March track, will be laying a wreath on behalf of his former Royal Artillery Regiment, then proceed to visit the scenic Last Camp at Kg Kenipir in the Ranau hinterland. Tulloch founded the British Salute in September 2011.

Before this, few Britons ever returned to remember or find meaning in the Sandakan Death March story even though all 641 British POWs sent to Sandakan were wiped out.

But on a private holiday trip to Sandakan in the late 90s, Tulloch said he was shocked by the story and initiated the British Salute to do Britain's part in finding meaning to the tragic event.

But when he mounted a research on the Roll of Honour, he discovered 14 of the British POWs came from Kent – the county where Sutton Valance School is located.

That was the discovery that sparked the idea that the Death March trek couldn't be more relevant for SVS which had taken their Junior Training Corps to the Brunei jungles for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, immediately after visiting the Last Camp on July 30, the group will head for an interior Tenom farm stay and visit a Murut rock carving site on July 31 before spending three days on community service project to repair a church at Kg Kalibatangan.

For Rest and Recreation before flying home on Aug 8, they will wind down at Berringis, said Tham Yau Kong, of TYK Adventure Tour.

Before Sabah, the group underwent 12 days of jungle training in Brunei under the British Garrison, including firing weapons, navigation, survival in the jungle, basic patrolling and camp attacks, under Ma PreAle, a former Gurkha Major from 36 Eng Regiment.

Major Glen Millbery, who only recently assumed charge of the CCF as Contingent Commander, is also here.

According to Major Tulloh, Sutton Valence School is one of the oldest private schools in the UK founded in the late 1500s but started a compulsory Officer Training Corps in 1914, in the context of WW1.

On the Death March track, they will start a six-hour or 8km walk in Bauto on July 26, 20km walk from Maliau to Koporon the following day, followed by a 15km walk from Koporon to Taviu Hillon on July 28, then transferred by road to Sabah Tea, Nabutan for an overnight stay, before walking 20km from Nabutan to Muruk on July 29.

The whole distance involved in 145km but because of time constraint, the cadets will walk only 73km, the rest by vehicular transfer.



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