The “Missing” Footage of Kudat, Jesselton & Sandakan Just After World War II

This is the best historical footage of North Borneo I’ve ever seen and amazingly, it’s in colour. Thanks to the Australian War Memorial, it is now available for the world to see and appreciate.

A few months after The Borneo Campaign in 1945 which liberated Borneo from the Japanese, Australian troops spent their time in North Borneo flushing out Japanese troops, helped restoring order and rebuilt essential infrastructures.

When I started this website, I posted a blog about photos of Jesselton taken just after the war. I didn’t expect that there’s a film as well! Well, probably nobody did. The film was shot by George French and he gave the title of the film as ‘Glimpses of Army Days by George French.’

We are really grateful to our friends in Australia who shot this film and made it available for us to appreciate more about our great history. Fellow historians in and from Sabah will definitely enjoy it and may help answer many of their lingering questions.

Highlights of this film:

  • Everything is in colour!
  • Views of Kudat town.
  • Views of Jesselton town, The General Post Office, Atkinson Clock Tower, Jesselton railway station, the land and survey building and the people.
  • Views of Sandakan town, the Jubilee Clock Tower that was still standing contrary to what people said that it was razed to the ground. The mosque in town.
  • A snapshot of how life was just after the war and how people were trying their best to continue with their lives.

You can start watching it right now, and do enjoy the background music performed by the Royal Swedish Navy Band.

For your reference, here are the list of scenes which appeared on this film:


1. Union Jack flying in compound in Kudat.

2. Damaged buildings.

3. Local workmen repairing buildings.

4. Dyak village.

5. Jeep on jungle track.

6. Tropical flowers.

7. Children on a water buffalo.

8. Harbour area and labourers.

9. Long shot of the Margaret [vessel].

10. Labourers moving stores.

Title: When a Chinese family moves they take everything.

11. Shows family loading boat including cage of chickens.

12. Map showing Jesselton.

13. Notice board in Chinese and Malay.

14. Bombs stored on the wharf.

15. Damaged buildings.

Title: Nature blooms midst man’s destruction.

16. Topical flowers and damaged buildings.

Title: The GPO (General Post Office)

17. Showing damaged post office building.

Title: Railway Station Clock Tower

18. Railway station and wrecked rolling stock with Atkinson Clock Tower.

Title: China’s Day 10 October

19. Appearance of flag since Japanese occupation.

20. Chinese rejoice.

21. Shows Chinese Nationalist flag behind Chinese selling produce and goods.

22. Chinese women.

23. Rickshaw.

24. Petrol station Chinese washing at a well.

25. Emaciated old Chinese walks towards camera.

26. Australian Jeep drives up.

27. Chinese men with bicycles.

Title: The track to the Jap Commander’s HQ

28. Shows Japanese sign post and entrance gate.

29. Chinese eating.

30. Wrecked motor vehicles.

31. Steam roller.

32. Damaged buildings.

33. Wrecked ship in the harbour.

34. Damage to the Gaiety Theatre.

35. Views of the harbour.

36. Soldier cleaning a .303 rifle.

37. At sea Army vessel AM2752 approaches the Margaret.

38. Map showing Sandakan.

39. Long shot of the shore.

40. Pans of the harbour and town.

41. Damaged buildings.

42.Abandoned Japanese truck.

Title: Stacking our cargo of Australian relief food

43. Shows Chinese women unloading stores from a truck.

Title: Burning bombed Jap craft to clear slipway for reconstruction.

44. Damaged buildings in the town

Title: Nature blooms still

45. Shows tropical flowers.

46. View of Sandakan

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Richard Ker

I love the history of North Borneo (Sabah) and strive to digitally any related information on this website. I'm also the author of and Follow me on Twitter @richardker.


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