Students’ comments and contributions

These comments and contributions are from students who participated on past Quiet Lion Tours

TOUR Students’ comments and contributions

  1. Rhiannon Mackay attended with the 2015 tour

    She has written a pictorial journal of her experience

    It is included in the articles section as a downloadable file

  2. Hey,

    It’s Catherine Jones from the Quiet Lion Tour (Queensland group). I only just got your email address. I’m sorry that I haven’t sent you a message sooner. I was just writing to say thank you so much, to the four of you brave man. It was an unforgettable experience and I will always be grateful for what you have all done.
    Since I have been back, I have been trying to tell people of the stories and in every school assignment I have been writing about the Burma Railway. Being on the trip has really inspired me, I love getting the true message out of what happened. I find it sad that in my generation not many kids know about what happened. I was showing the family the DVD from the tour, they loved it and mum cried. I really think you are all doing a wonderful job. It must be so hard for you all to go back, from where you all lost so much, but I just wanted you to know that you have made a difference to me.

    Thank you again,

    From Catherine Jones

  3. A poem from Nicki Reggett

    Have You Thought About A Veteran Today?

    Written by 13-year-old Nikki Reggett of Ipswich Queensland after her visit to Thailand to celebrate VJ Day 2005 with Burma Railway Ex POWs

    Have you thought about a veteran today?
    About the price he had to pay.
    Leaving his family to go to war,
    And seeing everything he saw.
    He didn’t want to kill, maim or hurt,
    He was protecting Australia, his home dirt
    Then one day they were ambushed and broken,
    If they survived they deserved a token.

    Have you thought about a veteran today?
    About the price he had to pay.
    To fight so hard then be taken, was not his choice,
    He had to battle through so once again he could hear his daughter’s voice.
    The Jap’s forced them through the bush so rugged,
    Some just collapsed they were so buggered.
    A pleasure it was having real food like meat,
    Many died from malnourishment, nothing to eat.

    Have you thought about a veteran today?
    About the price he had to pay.
    Crack went the whip, the tenth time that day,
    He tried to escape and now he had to pay.
    From Ban Pong, and Thanbyuzayat to camp Hintok,
    The diggers hero was the doc
    They were forced to build that railway track,
    They had pain from their toes right up through their backs.

    Have you thought about a veteran today?
    Thought about the price he had to pay.
    They worked from dusk to dawn, day in day out,
    Even with the lack of sleep they dared not pout.
    Forced to work in the tropical rain
    They had to endure unbearable pain
    He wanted to die; he no longer feared hell,
    For he has been there, his soul they did sell.
    His mates kept him going, no skin on his feet
    The Aussie spirit was one, hard to defeat.
    Over three years passed and finally somebody came,
    It had seemed an eternity, no one person to blame.

    So have you thought about a veteran today?
    And thought about the price he had to pay.
    All these memories racing through his mind,
    Never a thankyou, no one being kind.
    Even if you have never done it before
    Please spare a thought for our ex Prisoners Of War
    If you see a veteran today,
    Stop and say thank you for the price he did pay.
    And as sure as I am that the sky is blue,
    I can assure you, he will stop and smile back at you.

    Nikki Reggett 2005


    Memorial Adoption Ceremony 12/6/98

    Why Are we here? Why is this important?

    This memorial is an icon of bravery, courage, survival and the existence of humanity. We are here to commemorate our fellow Australian citizens who unselfishly and proudly stood up for their country, and in doing so bequeathed it to all future generations.

    My name is Erin St Duke, and I am privileged to be here to honour the memory and legacy of the struggle of all POWs. I can say this, because I have seen it. In April, Katherine and I were the lucky participants, who were chosen to go overseas in the Quiet Lion Tour. Our destination was Thailand and the Death Railway. In ten days, my life changed. I understood what it was to be alive, what it was to be human and how intangible, yet precious life is.

    Our tour started in Bangkok. We travelled, visiting points along the entire Thailand length of the railway. BanPong was our first stop. This was where the POWs were delivered by the Japanese to begin building the 415 km railway. We travelled from here along to different sites, The Bridge Over The River Kwai, Kanchanaburi, Chungkai, Wampo, Hintock, and the Three Pagoda Pass On the Myanmar border.

    Our tour culminated and came to fruition at Hellfire Pass. This was the infamous Konyu Cutting area. Kate and I walked the very railway on which untold human misery came to pass. A life for every sleeper.

    Stumbling along like mountain goats on the original stone, walking through cuttings, over embankments and being led by veterans who had worked the section was a moving experience. I can never understand what it was to be there, but I know as much as any person can. Because I saw. I saw where it was and through the veterans accompanying us, I saw the reality of it. Who it happened to, and most importantly what happened.

    This history, this legacy, I will always carry. My experience in those 10 days was profound. I hold precious the memories, and dear to me the people, both with whom I shared this time and those who shared it with us. To be in the presence of those who survived, to be in the place where they fought so hard for simple life. I spent ten days learning about being a human being, witnessing my birthright, endurance and spirit.

    To all Ex Prisoners of war Thank You, To the ex Prisoners of War Association, I would especially like to give thanks. To all those involved I feel heart felt gratitude. I am honoured to be here today to commemorate all the men and women who have suffered, fallen and endured in the name of war, for Australia, and to tell my story and in future I will always tell of my experience. It is important to remember I was imparted with the gift of knowing, the legacy, I will always remember.

    Lest we forget.

  5. SPEECH BY STUDENT Katherine Cooper

    Memorial adoption Ceremony 12/5/1998

    On the 18th April this year I was lucky enough to go on the “Quiet Lion Tour to Thailand. I was one of around twenty teenagers chosen from across W.A and Victoria to go on the ten day Tour that incorporated visiting Tourist sights in Thailand, but more importantly, showed where Prisoners of the second World War had lived and what happened to them, in particularly the Memorial at Hellfire Pass. What made this trip so educational and all over amazing was the fact that along with us kids were also War Veterans and relatives of people who fought in the war on the trip. The Ex POWs were especially remarkable people, and I learnt a lot about the horrific treatment of POWs from them.

    I already had a basic awareness of what these men went through, but I never thought I could learn much more by actually interacting with the war veterans. Not only were we able to talk one to one about the experience of war, but we could also see how these people reacted to the places where they had fought so hard to survive each day. The look on one man’s face taught me so much more than any book could. I was there with the survivors and could only imagine what they were thinking as they saw where their mates had fought, or died some fifty years before. Time could not change the way these men felt, and it will never change the way I feel about how these men lived and suffered for all Australians living today.

    I learnt how prisoners of war lived and worked and saw the places they struggled to survive in. I began to gain a much better understanding of what these people went through and the sacrifices they made for the sake of others were also clear. I could never really comprehend the stories I heard about prisoners of war until I met the survivors, and I now know so much more about what the prisoners of war had to endure Talking to these men personally also showed me the effect war has on people as individuals. Each person had a different story to tell, some funny some unbelievably horrific, but whatever the tale each, each taught me some thing about the war and life in general. During my ten day trip I gained more than I could have ever hoped for,. From interacting with and getting to know people who lived during the 2nd world war, especially Ex POWs. I found out how the experience of war really effected them. I now know how much these people really did for the sake of my generation living in Australia, and the many more still to come. We live in this amazing country because of their willingness to fight, survive and even die for us. We owe these men our lives and freedom, which I think we often forget, but we must remember this and ensure that their memories are not lost as they eventually pass on.

    The QUIET LION Tour changed my life and the way I looked towards the value of life forever. The image of one man’s face will stay with me forever as he saw where some of his closest friends died after surviving for so long. Thanks to the veterans sharing their stories with people like me, their memories will live on, as they should, so we can never forget about the experiences these people endured during the war.

    Thanks to this I have gained an understanding and insight into what prisoners of war went through during the 2nd world war, which will stay with me forever. I would like to take this oportunity to say thank you to every one who helped me to get to Thailand, especially the Ex POWs Association of West Australia w ho sponsored me. You gave me more than you will ever know.

    Thank You!