Navy people currently deployed to South East Asia have represented the RAN, ADF and Australia at three special Anzac Day services in Thailand.
In the midst of sailing the South East Asia region on the mission to strengthen relationships with close partners, three teams disembarked the ship bound for commemorative services in Chiang Mai, Phuket and the historical Hellfire Pass.
More than 1,000 people attended an Anzac Day Dawn Service at Hellfire Pass, a small section of the Burma-Thailand Railway built in part by Australian and Allied Prisoners of War under horrific conditions. The early morning event was followed by a Commemorative Service at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
Two former Prisoners of War who had survived working on the Burma-Thailand Railway attended the services and were recognised by Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell during the Anzac Day address.
For HMAS Anzac Aviation Technician Aircraft, Chief Petty Officer Greg Nathan, the services were particularly special.
“My grandfather served in 2/2 Pioneer Battalion, Australian Infantry and was a Prisoner of War from October 1942-August 1945,” he said.
“It was a very surreal feeling to be wearing my grandfather’s medals close to where he was forced to labour on the Burma-Thailand Railway.
“The many people who attended the Dawn Service were grateful to visit the location and experience the type of terrain where so much hardship had been endured.
“It was spine-tingling to see such a large number of people attend the service and pay their respects,” Chief Petty Officer Nathan said.
Operations Officer HMAS Anzac, Lieutenant Stephen Gaisford gave the commemorative address at the Australian Government Official Anzac Day Commemorative Dawn Service in Rawai, Phuket.
“A remarkable thing about the Anzac tradition is its timelessness. Years pass and attendance at services continues to grow,” Lieutenant Gaisford said during the address.
“A small group standing at dawn in a local memorial park becomes a crowd. Young or old, the Anzac spirit is strong in us all.
“Thailand’s commitment to holding these commemorative services each year shows great respect to Australia, its people and its servicemen and women. I am honoured and humbled to attend today,” he said.
A small team from HMAS Anzac travelled to Chiang Mai for a Dawn Service at the House of Praise International Church.
RAN personnel were joined by members of the Royal Thai Army and Royal Thai Police and laid a wreath on behalf of HMAS Anzac. More than 100 people attended the service, which was followed by an Australian-style barbecue breakfast.
Anzac Day on Anzac
Back onboard namesake ship Anzac, a service was held and attended by members of ship’s company standing watches and duties during the day of remembrance.
The Australian Government is committed to continued defence cooperation with Thailand and places high priority on our bilateral relationships in Southeast Asia and support for ASEAN.
HMA Ships Anzac, Toowoomba and Success have deployed to South East Asia for approximately three months, conducting port visits and developing interoperability with nations in the region.