Descendants of POWS on the Burma Thailand Railway return.

The Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association, a group of veterans and supporters who have resolved to perpetuate the memory of the Burma Thailand Railway and the ordeal of Prisoners of War of the Japanese, once again took a tour to Thailand for the 2011 Anzac Day Dawn Services at Hellfire Pass and the Wreath Laying ceremony at Kanchanaburi.

The Association has conducted annual pilgrimages to Thailand in the form of Quiet Lion Tours (named for Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop regularly since 1997. High School students have always been a priority in order to perpetuate the story. The numbers of juniors have increased each year, partly due to a number of generous sponsors and contributing groups.

The 2011 Quiet Lion Tour to Thailand was significant due the attendance of the Governor General Australia, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, who was accompanied by a group of survivors of the Burma Thailand Railway; the Hon. Tom Uren, Lex Arthurson, Cyril Gilbert and Bill Schmitt. Another survivor present was Neil MacPherson who traveled with the Quiet Lion Tour. Regular ex POW travelers Bill Haskell and Milton Fairclough were unable to travel due to illness.

Over the years a host of people who had kin on the Railway have achieved closure on the tours.

This was the case in 2011 when the following traveled:-

Richard and Sally Steel of Toowoomba Queensland . Richard’s father was John Hart Steel VX24121 of 2/2 Pioneers who died at Tamarkan;

Ron and Bronwen Walker of Mildura Victoria . Ron’s father was Harry Walker VX 22708 of 2/2nd Pioneers. Harry went to coal mines in Japan after the railway was finished and survived).

Jenny and Peter Caddy of Port Pirie, South Australia . Jenny’s uncle was Edward Thomas Sorrell, 2/3MGB Dunlop Force. Ted died at Tarsau Hospital on 11/11/43 after time at Hintok. (Bill Haskell knew him well from Java on);

Jan and Phillip Burbury of Woodbury, Tasmania . Phillip’s kin was Claude Samuel Iles, TX4214 CCS.

John and Francis Kennedy of Arcadia, Victoria and their daughter Bronwen Stewart and grandson Matt of Sebastopol, Victoria . John Kennedy’s uncle (Crocodile Kennedy) was a padre and prisoner captured in Java. and later sent to Mukden (Manchuria).

Max and Sue Cunnington . Max’s father was Sandy Cunnington of the 2/3MGB.

David Piesse . His father was Ron Piesse of the 2/3 MGB.

Susan Harrington was part of a large contingent from the Harrington family. Her father was Frank Thaxter. Frank Thaxter was also a member of the 2/3 rd Machine Gun Battalion. Frank Thaxter and Susan returned on an earlier occasion to the Railway on a Quiet Lion Tour before Frank passed away.

Jan and Phillip Hawkins and Jan’s brother, Terry Cant, of Melville . Jan and Terry’s father was Albert Ronald Cant 2/7th Field Battery.

Neil MacPherson of the 2/2 Pioneers has been a member of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association and travels each year. His son Alan and grand-daughters Gypsy O’Dea, Krishna Vanderweide, Shannon Pearce and Jemima Butterworth toured.

Emma Egerton-Warburton . Her Grand Father is Wally Holding of the 2/4MGB who is a member of the Burma Thailand Memorial Association management committee.

At the traditional Concert held on the final night of the stay at the Home Phu Resort all of the above performed a joint item as direct descendants of prisoners on the Railway.

 On 17 th April 2012 the Quiet Lion Tour will again take many such travelers to the Railway.