SOUTH AUSTRALIAN POW REMEMBERED
The 2011 Quiet Lion Tour to Thailand for the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Hellfire Pass and the Wreath Laying ceremony at Kanchanaburi (both attended by the Governor General Quinton Brice) was significant to a South Australian couple from Port Pirie; Jenny and Peter Caddy.
Jenny’s uncle was Edward Thomas Sorrell, SX8795 of the Second Third Machine Gun Battalion and Dunlop Force on the Burma Thailand Railway. For many years the family only knew the basic details of Eddie’s service and the manner of his death on the Railway. They knew he died at Tarsau Hospital on 11/11/43. It was a source of much pain that they though he may have died from cholera as the date of death coincided with the latter end of the cholera epidemic.
The Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association from Western Australia has for many years conducted their Quiet Lion tours to Thailand and has also assembled an extensive data base on prisoners of war of the Japanese. They also have a strong working relationship with the Thai Burma Railway Centre in Kanchanaburi which has become an authority on the Railway under the management of Australian ex-pat Rod Beattie.
Jenny contacted the Association regarding Eddie Sorrell and within days had comprehensive details of Eddie’s service and the manner of his death. Not only that but one of the founders of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association and an originator of the Quiet Lions Tours, the late Bill Haskell, personally knew Eddie. They became friends from the early days of the formation of the 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion and their course was parallel through to the Hintok Mountain Camp near Hellfire Pass.
Eddie was much older than most of the rest and became critically ill at Hintok. He was transferred to Tarsau Hospital camp where he died of dysentery. (This news afforded some relief to the family because of the fear that he died of cholera). Eddie was buried at Tarsau but his remains were recovered after the war and interred at Kanchanaburi Hospital.
Jenny and Peter then decided to travel with the Quiet Lion Tour and were able to visit the camps where Eddie had worked, travel the majority of the remaining railway and lay a wreath on Eddie’s grave after the ceremony at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. They were able to spend time at the sites of both the Hintok Mountain Camp, the Kinsayok Camp and the Tarsau Hospital camp as well as walking the Heritage Trail from Hintok Cutting to Hellfire Pass (Konyu) Cutting.
Unfortunately Bill Haskell had to pull out of the tour due to illness and he died as the tour finished. Jenny and Peter did get the chance to speak with Bill by telephone before the tour.
Jenny and Peter Caddy have expressed their deep gratitude for the help of the BTRMA and for the experience of the Quiet Lion Tour. Excerpts from their summary of the tour and their observations follow.
“THOUGHTS ON THE QUIET LION TOUR 2011
We were first time participants in a Quiet Lion Tour and returned home from the 2011 tour enriched, extended and satisfied. Eric Wilson’s summary of the tour in a BTRMA newsletter reignited these feelings. Through our initial contact with Eric Wilson and the BTRMA, we learned of the mission of the Association, “to perpetuate the memory of privations and sacrifices of Allied Prisoners of War and the selfless dedication of the medical personnel during the construction of the Burma Thailand Railway by informing current and future generations through all forms of education and particularly with Quiet Lion Tours” … idealistic and admirable aims.
These aims were achieved with excellence on the Quiet Lion Tour 2011. From our first enquiry of Eric Wilson regarding the tour, it was obvious that we were dealing with both a person and an association possessing exceptional passion for their cause. Then, as soon as we met Eric Wilson, David Piesse, ex POW Neil McPherson and all the group members we knew we had made the best decision of our lives and that we were in for a memorable time. These wonderful people gave their all to make our tour worthwhile, well organised, enjoyable and unforgettable.
We marveled at the knowledge of Eric and David and their success in ensuring that all group members gained the utmost from each session. Neil MacPherson supported Eric and David as they told the story of the Railway.
Bill Haskell and ex POW Snow Fairclough was referred to frequently. We heard of Bill’s death at the end of the tour and we mourned with those who knew him personally. We rejoiced for the remarkable person that Bill was. There were so many truly memorable moments for us on the tour, not the least of which was unraveling so much of the story, with Eric’s help, of an uncle who died on The Line and whom we discovered was not only in Dunlop Force, but who was also a good friend of Bill Haskell. Finding Ted Sorrell’s grave at Kanchanaburi Cemetery was a particularly poignant moment. So very memorable, too, were the Anzac Day services, the Heritage Walk, the train journey along The Line, the Hellfire Pass Museum, beautiful and serene Home Phu Toey, Chungkai Cemetery and the gradual piecing together of the puzzle through sites at Nakom Patom, Non Pladuk, Banpong, Tamuan, Kanchanburi, Tamarkan, Chungkai, Wampo, Tarsau, Konyu, Hellfire Pass, Hintok, Kinsayok and Takanun.
The whole tour was a highlight for us. We feel greatly privileged to have been given this opportunity to learn at first hand the rigours and hardships of the POWs and medical teams on The Line, the beauty yet the challenges of the Thai jungle, the selfless contributions of wonderful local people such as Kun Kanit Wanachote and Boon Pong Sirivejaphan, and, last but not least, the inspiring life of Weary Dunlop and his fellow medicos such as Arthur Moon and Ewen Corlette.”
Jenny and Peter Caddy Port Pirie SA