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ANZAC Day - 25 April 2005

Anzac Day (ANZAC: the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) commemorates the loss of Australian and New Zealand soldiers in war, especially those lost in Turkey in 1915. The greatest loss of life allied forces faced in the First World War, over a period of 8 months 8,000 Australian and New Zealand troops died from sniper fire and shelling around the Gallipoli Peninsula. Although the campaign failed in its objective to ouster Turkey from the first world war, the actions of the Australian and New Zealand troops established an ‘Anzac legend’ which instilled a sense of national pride that has shaped the way both countries view themselves and ultimately shaped the modern nations Australia and New Zealand have become.

In Thailand, however, Anzac Day holds an even deeper significance. 25 April, a day of national pride and unity, was also the day Australian Prisoners of War (POWs) in the Second World War began work on


Hellfire Pass – a 500-metres-long and 26-metres-deep section of rock that was dug out by Australian Prisoners of War to allow a railway built by the Japanese Administration of Thailand (dubbed the ‘Death Railway’) to continue its route from Bangkok through Kanchanaburi to Rangoon. Alongside British counterparts and thousands of Asian workers (including Thais), soldiers were forced to remove rock using no more than picks, hammers and their bare hands. Of the 1,000 Australian and British soldiers who took 12 weeks to clear the stretch of mountain, 700 died.

A number of events are held each year in Kanchanaburi to mark Anzac day and to remember the events that took place in the area. This year the day starts at Konyu Cutting, below the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum at 05:30 for a dawn religious service. At 11:00 another ceremony takes place at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery on Sangchuto Road. Wreath laying will be conducted at 11:00 at the Kanchanaburi Allied War Cemetery.

2005 events will also honour the ANZAC legacy with the playing of an ‘Australian Rules Commemorative Match’ hosted by the Thailand Tigers Australian Rules Football Club at the Kanchanaburi Sports Complex at 14:30 on 23 April 2005. Not just a football game, the event is staged to pay respect to Australian and New Zealander’s ANZAC ideals and the game is very much part of the ANZAC Day tradition.

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