The WitnessTom Gilling
At the Australian war crimes trials that followed World War II, one prosecution witness stood out: Warrant Officer Bill Sticpewich.
During his three years in the infamous Sandakan POW camp, Sticpewich had seen hundreds of fellow prisoners die of starvation, sickness and overwork. Others were shot or bayoneted to death by Japanese guards on forced marches through the Borneo jungle. Of more than 2400 Allied prisoners at Sandakan at the start of 1945, only six survived. It was Sticpewich's meticulous evidence that sent Sandakan's commandant and his murderous henchmen to the gallows.
But to his fellow prisoners Sticpewich was not a war hero, he was a collaborator who avoided heavy labour and obtained extra rations by ingratiating himself with the Japanese.
Was Sticpewich a traitor or a man who did what he needed to stay alive? Drawing on wartime records, original interviews and the recollections of other survivors, The Witness reveals the compelling story of Australia's most notorious POW.