Jesselton Revolt

Jesselton Revolt
Date9 October 1943-21 January 1944
LocationJesselton, British Borneo
Result Failure of uprising
Kinabalu guerillas  Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders

Albert Kwok 
Panglima Ali (KIA)
Orang Tuah Arshad
Tun Datu Mustapha bin Datu Harun Supported by:

Imam Marajukim
Empire of Japan Lieutenant Shimizu
100 Chinese
200 Suluk Muslims and Bajau Muslims
Sikh Indians
Empire of Japan Kempeitai
Casualties and losses
3,000–4,000 civilians massacred 60–90

The Jesselton Revolt or Double Tenth Incident was a multi-ethnic uprising, mainly led by Chinese and Suluk guerrilla forces known as the Kinabalu Guerrillas, against the Japanese occupation of British Borneo. After the revolt, the Japanese forces initiated an ethnic cleansing against the Suluk people as punishment.


The Kinabalu Guerrillas were led by Albert Kwok in the west and by Tun Datu Mustapha bin Datu Harun in the north. The Kinabalu Guerillas, consisting of 300 Chinese and islander people like the Suluk Muslims[1][2] and Bajau.[3] The Dusuns and Sikhs, started an uprising against the Japanese on 9 October 1943, on the eve of National Day of the Republic of China. Albert Kwok was a supporter of the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China.

Kwok was forced to launch the revolt ahead of schedule because the forced conscription of the native Chinese was approaching. Imam Marajukim, a Muslim cleric from Sulu in the Philippines, was involved in the resistance against Japan in the Philippines and helped supply Kwok and the Kinabalu guerillas.[4][5][6][7][8] The Suluks were described as "strongly displeased to be anti-Japanese".[9][10] Imam Marajukim helped the Chinese secure participation in the uprising from Panglima Ali's Suluks, the Binadan inhabitants of the Mantanani and Danawan (Dinawan) islands, and the Oudar Islanders under Orang Tuah Arshad.[11] The rank of 3rd Lieutenant within the Sulu guerrillas was granted to Dr. Kowk after he joined the resistance movement.[12]

The Chinese and Suluks started the insurrection with a combined land and sea attack on the Japanese in Jesselton. Mantanani and other islands contributed ships to the Suluk flotilla, headed by Suluk (Sulug) Island leader Orang Tuah Panglima Ali and Oudar (Udar) Island leader Orang Tuah Arshad.[13] Panglima Ali was the primary leader of the naval part of the uprising.[14][15][16][17]

The 100-strong Chinese guerrilla force was led by Albert Kwok (also known as I. N. Kwok, Guo Yi Nan, and Guo Hengnan). It first took control of the Menggatal and Tuaran police stations[18] and then used parangs to attack the Japanese on land in Jesselton,[19] while the 200-strong guerrilla force of Suluks and Bajau from the coastal islands led by Sulug Island leader Orang Tuah Panglima Ali, Udar Island leader Orang Tuah Arshad, Mantanani Island leader Jemalul and Dinawan Island leader Saruddin attacked from the sea, assaulting the city and burning down warehouses.

Dusun-Murut and Sikh Indians joined the guerillas in the attack on the Japanese. The Japanese suffered 60-90 deaths, but the guerillas were armed only with parangs and spears, so they were forced to withdraw.[20] This led to the defeat of the uprising.[21] Other figures for the Japanese death toll are 40[22][23] and 50.[24][25]


After the revolt, the Japanese punished civilian populations for siding with the rebels, especially the Suluks of the coastal islands. The Suluks were selected for eradication by the Japanese.[26] Hundreds of civilians were tortured after being arrested and most Suluk men were slaughtered.[27] It was described as a "systematic massacre" of the Suluks.[28] "The Tokyo war crimes trial" index described Japanese atrocities as "an apparently systematic attempt to exterminate the Suluk race between February and June 1944".[29]

The Japanese suspected Suluks and Binadins' participation in the uprising, since the Suluks and Binadins were the only ones with seafaring capability, and the Japanese correctly deduced that it was a naval attack that led to the burning of buildings by the guerrillas.[30] The Suluks on the Mantanani Islands were subjected to multiple massacres and atrocities by the Japanese Kempeitai. After the Japanese searched the islands for Chinese resistance members in February 1944, they obtained information regarding Suluks who had participated in the uprising through torture of Dr. Lou Lai.

The Japanese in Jesselton then tortured to death 58 Suluk men from Mantanani whom they arrested; two days later the Japanese massacred two groups of Suluks, one consisting of women and men who were shot by automatic weapons, and another group of 25 women and 4 children who were ordered to be killed via automatic weapons by Lieutenant Shimizu. The Suluk women and children were rounded up and lashed onto a mosque with rope, then shot to death with automatic weapons.

Only 125 of the 430 Suluks on Mantanani survived while only 54 of the 120 in the Suluk population of Dinawan survived, with all the men killed by the Japanese. Mangolun (Mengalum), Sulug and Udar islands were also targeted by the Japanese for massacres.[31][32] The Japanese slaughtered 54 people out of the Suluk population of 114 on Sulug Island as punishment for aiding the resistance.[33] The Suluks' houses were also burned down after they were machine gunned.[34][35]

The Suluks were described as "virtually wiped out".[36] Around 3,000-4,000 indigenous Suluks on the western coastal islands were slaughtered by the Japanese.[37][38]

The Kinabalu Guerrilla movement ended when the Japanese murdered Kwok, Panglima Ali and other guerrillas on 21 January 1944. The Japanese also carried out widespread murders of the Suluk and Bajau civilian populations, to the point of virtually wiping out the entire Suluk population. The Petagas War Memorial was later erected at the site of the massacre. The exploits of the guerrillas are described in the book Kinabalu Guerrillas by Maxwell Hall.[39]

In popular culture

The Jesselton Revolt inspired the book and movie Farewell to the King.



External links

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