HRH Princess Sirindhorn visits Death Railway Museum in Kanchanaburi

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The streets of Kanchanaburi were lined with purple clothing and Thai flags to welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on a three day study visit to the area.

HRH the Princess traveled by train from Chitralada Royal Railway Station on Friday the 16th of October with members of the Prince Mahidol Award Committee. En route, the train stopped at Nakhon Pathom where the princess visited the communities of Phra Pathom Chedi.

An auspicious occasion as Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn lays a wreath at the Kanchanaburi war cemetery.

The train then continued onto Nong Pladuk in the Ban Pong district of Ratchaburi, before the final stop for the day in Kanchanaburi.

Residents and tourists alike were delighted to catch a glimpse of the beloved Princess near the bridge of the river Kwai. Many wore purple clothing, which is the colour associated with HRH the Princess.

The entourage visited the Death Railway Museum and Research Center and then as the day was coming to a close, HRH Princess Sirindhorn paid respect at the Kanchanaburi war cemetery.

Director General of the CWGC Victoria Wallace presents Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn with a commemorative book titled ‘For the Fallen’.

This was a historic moment for the cemetery, run by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), as this was the first time that any member of the Thai Royal Family had paid a visit.

The Kanchanaburi war cemetery (known locally as the Don-Rak war cemetery) is run my Michael Newbatt and his loyal team and is the main prisoner of war cemetery for victims of Japanese imprisonment while building the Burma Railway.

It was designed by Colin St Clair Oakes and there are 6,982 POWs buried there, mostly Australian, British, and Dutch.

To mark the occasion of the Royal Visit, the director general of the CWGC Victoria Wallace flew in specially and was accompanied by the British Ambassador to Thailand H.E Mark Kent, and Colonel Chris Luckham Defence, Attaché.

HRH the Princess took a leisurely stroll through the cemetery and talked to the ambassador, Victoria Wallace and Michael Newbatt.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn signs the visitor’s book.

The group that was accompanying the Princess, with many of them being foreigners, also took time to look over the graves of the prisoners of war.

The special branch and military police were on hand and were supplemented by staff from Defence International Security Services to ensure that security was paramount.

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn laid a wreath in front of the cross at the cemetery and took time to sign the visitor’s book. She was then presented with CWGC embroidered sun hats from Michael Newbatt and a commemorative book titled “For the fallen,” from Victoria Wallace, director general of the CWGC.

Victoria Wallace, Michael Newbatt and H.E Mark Kent welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to the Kanchanaburi war cemetery.

Also in attendance was Joe and Aoy Cox from Defence International Security Services, Colonel Sudchai Ploypradab, Provost Marshall First Army Area, Royal Thai Army, Grant Jesser, Mark Watson and Tim Bryant.

More information about the Kanchanaburi war cemetery and the other 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations worldwide where Commonwealth casualties from the two world wars are commemorated can be found online at: www.cwgc.org

Michael Newbatt presents Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn with CWGC embroidered sun hats.

The Princess takes a stroll through the cemetery.

Staff at the Death Railway Museum eagerly await the arrival of the Princess.

H.E Mark Kent, Victoria Wallace, Chris Luckham and Tim Bryant ensure preparations are in order for the royal visit.

Paul Strachan from the Pattaya Mail was honored to be invited for this historic event.

Local residents prepare to catch a glimpse of their beloved Princess.