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Stories through memories

Stories through Memories

Stories Through Memories: An oral history project sharing stories through the memories of survivors who witnessed the tumultuous events of WWII in Brunei Darussalam and Northern Borneo (Dec 1941 - June 1945).

Duration:July 2014 - Dec 2020
Funding:With financial support from the University Brunei Darussalam – Research Grants UBD/PNC2/2/RG1(216) and UBD/PNC2/2/RG1(304)
Academic Group:Social Sciences
Key Words:World War Two, Japanese Occupation, Australian Imperial Forces, Oral History, Brunei Darussalam, Borneo, Documentary, Multi-lingual


Multi-lingual oral history research exploring the experiences of those who witnessed World War Two in Brunei Darussalam and Northern Borneo, particularly the last weeks of fighting between Japanese occupying forces, Bornean locals and the Australian Armed Forces.

WWII historians of the region have focused on military operations and P.O.W. atrocities while overlooking local voices. In the course of describing their WWII experiences these local interviewees also reveal much of their own values and traditions. Our multi-lingual oral history interviews are bringing their stories to light, including:

  • A Bruneian teenager who joined to fight with the Japanese army.
  • An Iban tribal leader whose family used tradition blowpipe and machete to take the heads of Japanese soldiers.
  • A Chinese girl whose family escaped the Japanese invasion of Taiwan only to be occupied again in Borneo.
  • A son who witnessed his father’s imprisonment and persecution by the Japanese occupiers, and who grew up to become the Bruneian Ambassador in Japan.
  • A boy who, with his father, helped the Sultan of Brunei and his family escape from the Japanese occupiers.

Project partners

James Cook University, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Australian High Commission to Brunei Darussalam, Australian Department of Veterans Affairs, Australian War Memorial, Brunei Museums, Brunei History Centre, Brunei Shell.

Project team

  • Project Manager/ Principal Investigator – Dr Janet Marles
  • Universiti Brunei Darussalam;
  • Oral Historian and Chief Investigator Dr Maslin Jukim; S.E. Asian Historian
  • Chief Investigator Dr Frank Dhont;
  • Australian High Commission to Brunei Darussalam
  • Australian Department of Veterans Affairs, Brunei Museums.

Research assistants

  • Abu Hurairah Mohammad
  • Afiqah Ibnu
  • Faiqah Hamdan
  • Sally Chin
  • ‘Izzati Nordin
  • Arif Sablee
  • Amali Roslin
  • Aqilah Makhbtah
  • Alisa, Joycelyn Kei Yan Liew
  • George Teh Bin Bin
  • Leonel Pitrus
  • Jonathan Seng Chong Lim

Key contact: Principal Investigator Dr Janet Marles at