Posted: Thursday, May 04, 2017
Author: Jack Hughes, Year 7 Pupil

It was at dawn on 25th April 1915 that Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed in Gallipoli during World War 1. The loss of life and casualties were immense but the bonds of friendship between our nations were strong.

ANZAC Day has become a national holiday where Aussies and Kiwis remember the sacrifices of our servicemen, not only the veterans of World War I, but in all conflicts. We traditionally wear our uniforms and attend Dawn Services at memorials, clubs and town halls across the country. It's customary to buy a red poppy or a badge, and the money goes to help the families of ex-servicemen and women.

This year my family travelled to Kanchanaburi to join in the services. We arrived at Konyu Cutting at 4am and waited for the sun to rise above the trees as the service began. This is the area where the Japanese Military used Prisoners of War (POWs) to construct the Thai-Burma Railway under harsh conditions and on tiny rations. The skeletal prisoners were forced to work through the night by the light of fire, and when viewed from above the area resembled the jaws of Hell and gave the name Hellfire Pass. Over 13,000 POWs died during the railways construction.

I felt honoured to be in the presence of two ex-POWs who visited from Australia. Mr Neill MacPherson OAM is now 95 years old and Mr Harold Martin has just turned 100. Their bodies may be old but their memories were fresh and hearts compassionate. They shared with us their first-hand experiences of being captured and sent to work on both the Burmese and Thai sections of the railway, enduring brutal treatment, monsoon rains, starvation and disease and the loss of their friends.

When the service finished my sister Alyssa (Year 4F) and I laid wreaths on behalf of Harrow International School Bangkok. We then joined everyone at the museum for a sausage sizzle and ate ANZAC biscuits (traditional oat and molasses biscuits soldiers ate during the war).

We attended a second service at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery where Mr Harold Martin read the Ode of Remembrance:

 

        "They shall not grow old, as we are left grow old;

         age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

         At the going down of the sun and in the morning

         we will remember them."

 

Lest We Forget

 

Last updated: 04 May 2017 09:44