Join us at the global commemoration of ANZAC Day in Thailand at the Hellfire Pass Memorial in Kanchanaburi. Learn how the harrowing events during World War II created bonds that have endured through the decades.
Every 25th of April, nurse Australia and New Zealand observe ANZAC Day. Although it started as a marking of the first military action by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in World War I, this day has become a day of remembrance honouring all who have served in their armed forces.
The origins of ANZAC Day
ANZAC forces joined the Allies for the campaign at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. This would be the first major international military involvement of Australia and New Zealand since they became federated nations, dominions of the United Kingdom but semi-autonomous states. Although this was by no means a successful campaign, the two countries honoured the sacrifices of their soldiers with services and memorials.
Through the generations, as Australia and New Zealand forces were involved in other military and peacekeeping actions, ANZAC Day expanded observance to recognise not just those who fell in WWI, but all who served. And as the ANZACs fought alongside, assisted, and protected other nations, ANZAC Day is commemorated in ceremonies around the world, including in Thailand.
Why Thailand joined in the commemorations
ANZAC Day took on a greater significance in Thailand because of World War II. Tens of thousands of POWs and conscripted civilian labourers toiled and were tortured during the building of the Thai-Burma Railway by the Japanese Army. In Kanchanaburi, Hellfire Pass (apparently named as such because it looked like Hell to the POWs forced to work through the nights) saw thousands of Allied POWs tormented to death building this section of the railway. Many are buried at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery along the River Kwai. The Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum, maintained by the Australian and Thai governments, continues to honour their memories and educate visitors on this dark chapter in history. Both locations are now part of ANZAC Day ceremonies in Thailand.
The ANZAC Ride to Remembrance in Kanchanaburi
SpiceRoads invites you to join the commemorations with our annual ANZAC Ride to Remembrance trip. The beginning of our trip will give you glimpses of how the past and present have become intertwined here. Impressive caverns and waterfalls lead to farmland and fishing villages. Khmer ruins give way to teak plantations. Overlooking the Death Railway, Kra Sae Cave, once a POW campsite, is now a Buddhist shrine.
Then, on the 25th, we join visitors from all around the world, including veterans and diplomats from all the Allied nations involved, in attending the 5 am Dawn Service at the Hellfire Pass Memorial and then the Memorial Wreath Laying Service at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery to pay our respect to those who served and sacrificed.
If you are interested in joining or want to learn more, please visit http://www.spiceroads.com/tours/anzac.
For more information about the Thai-Burma Railway and Hellfire Pass:
- The Thai–Burma Railway and Hellfire Pass (http://hellfire-pass.commemoration.gov.au/)
- ANZAC Day page of the Australian Army (https://www.army.gov.au/our-history/traditions/anzac-day)
- A Guide to ANZAC Day for New Zealanders (http://www.anzac.govt.nz/)
- The Australian War Memorial ANZAC Day page (https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac-day)