Royal British Legion members take annual pilgrimage to Kanchanaburi for ANZAC Day

0
637

As always in April members of the Royal British Legion headed for Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai for the ANZAC Day Memorial Service. This year, however, was a little bit special in that 70 years ago this year work started on the infamous Thai/Burma Railway. Also this year was to be the first get together of the Royal British Legion Thailand.

Members from all over Thailand, including Pattaya, Bangkok, Korat, Chiang Mai and Udon Thai made their way to Kanchanaburi on 24 April ready for the service on 25 April. Many attended the dawn service followed by the main one at 10 a.m. After that and the cold beer had finished as always we headed to the lesser known war cemetery at Chungkai to hold our own small service and lay four wreaths (the only ones laid at Chungkai).

The Wreath Layers at Chungkai (from right) Maurice Hewson, the British Ambassador, Tony Archer and Fred Beavis.The Wreath Layers at Chungkai (from right) Maurice Hewson, the British Ambassador, Tony Archer and Fred Beavis.

British Ambassador to Thailand Asif Ahmad was in attendance at the main service and on hearing of our visit to Chungkai asked if he could join us. This was another occasion where the Ambassador has shown both his support and respect for the work of the Royal British Legion in Thailand.

Our ceremonial duties done, we split into smaller groups and visited the many attractions around town. Many returned to the hotel to get out of the intense heat to have a few cold ones.

The Ambassador chats with Ed Trayling, our oldest member on parade.The Ambassador chats with Ed Trayling, our oldest member on parade.

We added an extra day on the itinerary this year: on the morning of the 26th there were trips to the Bridge and Hellfire Pass followed by the social highlight of the trip, our BBQ at the Thai Garden Inn resort. Many thanks to Judy and John for hosting us, Grieg Ritchie, Clair Ritchie, Dot Knowles and Tam Holmes for doing all the preparation and cooking and to our new sponsors of the event Acorn Distribution, formally MatVic Butchers.

The BBQ was once again a great success allowing all our members to meet and greet. We also presented two five year Poppy Appeal Certificates of Thanks to members Bob Myers and Fred Beavis, a special thank you was also said to our Welfare Team.

The guys who did the Long March with the British Ambassador.The guys who did the Long March with the British Ambassador.

Whilst we were all getting ready to travel to the service, four members were already in the area and walked, cycled and kayaked the length of the railway from Three Pagodas Pass to the River Kwai in aid of the Royal British Legion and the Australian Returned Services League. They arrived just before the service and they more than anyone deserved a cold beer along with a lot of thanks!

Planning for next year has already started along with a number of other events for this year. Why not come along and join us? Membership is only 800 baht per year and you do not have to have served in the Armed Forces to join. All nationalities and creeds are welcome.

We meet socially every Sunday from 2 p.m. at Tropical Bert’s on Second Road next to Soi 6/1.

Our Poppy Team in action: we collected nearly 20,000 baht.Our Poppy Team in action: we collected nearly 20,000 baht.

Enjoying the Aussie hospitality after the main service.Enjoying the Aussie hospitality after the main service.

Our No 1 BBQ cook Grieg Ritchie.Our No 1 BBQ cook Grieg Ritchie.

Bob Myers after receiving his five year certificate.Bob Myers after receiving his five year certificate.

Some of our Chiang Mai members on the railway.Some of our Chiang Mai members on the railway.

Our Group at Chungkai War Cemetery, the Ambassador and Bert Elson centre.Our Group at Chungkai War Cemetery, the Ambassador and Bert Elson centre.