Anzac Day at Hellfire Pass: Death Railway



Western Front Association


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Poppy - Spirit of Remembrance  'To Hell & Back' - Sam Taylors own story: (Pte G.E.J Taylor 2/20th Battalion)
      Told by his wife: Betty Taylor: Dedicated to his mates & all those who did not return

 Poppy - Spirit of Remembrance Anzac Day at Hellfire Pass:
 Poppy - Spirit of Remembrance Sir Edward (Weary) Dunlop
 Poppy - Spirit of Remembrance Image Gallery: Death Railway & 'Hellfire Pass':
 Poppy - Spirit of Remembrance The Anzac Day Hellfire Pass & Death Railway Tour:
 Poppy - Spirit of Remembrance The Cost:
 Poppy - Spirit of Remembrance Note: This tour can also be done as a Private Tour (2 persons plus): (Cost(s) on application)

Hellfire Pass: (Part of the notorious WW2 'Death Railway') (Copy: Courtesy DVA)
For the men who built the Hellfire Pass - The Aussies, British, Dutch and other Allied POWs it was the most well-known of many notorious sites along the Thai-Burma railway. Named for both the terrible, brutal conditions under which prisoners worked and the fact that at night the scene was lit by carbide lights, bamboo fires and hessian wicks in containers full of diesel oil, Hellfire Pass, remarked one former prisoner -  'looked like a scene out of Dante's inferno'. Located at Konyu, Thailand, Hellfire Pass consisted of two cuttings; the first measured 460-metres long by 7.6 metres deep, the second was 73-metres long and 24-metres deep. The work here, which involved drilling, blasting and digging through solid rock, was dangerous and terribly brutal with terrible beatings handed out by the Japanese guards at the slightest reason. Thousands died during the building of the hellish project:

            The 'Death Railway': Allied Prisoner of War origins & Deaths: The Death Railway:  1942-1945 (Wikipedia)

Country of Origin


Number of deaths

Death rate

UK, British India or Crown Colony




Netherlands/Dutch East Indies








United States








Work began at Hellfire Pass in late April 1943. At the beginning, prisoners had to move one square metre of earth per day; within two days this was doubled and after a week increased to three square metres. Survivors of the initial draft of 380 men sent to the pass were joined in June by more prisoners and compelled to work even harder. Southeast Asian labourers, including Cambodian jack-hammer operators, also worked on this section of the track and also suffered terribly. Shifts lasted 18 hours a day, a regimen that continued until the cutting was complete after some six weeks. Work on the railway continued until 16 October 1943 when the two ends of the track were joined. More than 2,800 Australians and over 6000 British are believed to have died working on the Thai-Burma Railway, some 700 Australians alone at Hellfire Pass.

About Hellfire Pass & the Death Railway (Wikipedia)
Hellfire Pass in the Tenasserim Hills of Thailand was a particularly difficult section of the line to build. It was the largest rock cutting on the railway, coupled with its general remoteness and the lack of proper construction tools during building. A tunnel would have been possible to build instead of a cutting, but this could only be constructed at the two ends at any one time, whereas the cutting could be constructed at all points simultaneously despite the excess effort required by the POWs.

The Australian, British, Dutch and other allied Prisoners of War were required by the Japanese to work 18 hours a day to complete the cutting. Sixty nine men were beaten to death by Japanese guards in the six weeks it took to build the cutting, and many more died from diseases such as cholera, dysentery, starvation and exhaustion. However, the majority of deaths occurred amongst labourers whom the Japanese enticed to come to help build the line with false promises of good jobs.

These labourers, mostly Malayans (Chinese, Malays and Tamils from Malaya), suffered mostly the same as the POWs at the hands of the Japanese. However, the Japanese kept no records of these deaths.The railway was never built to a level of lasting permanence and was frequently bombed by the Royal Air Force during the Burma Campaign. After the war, all but the present section was closed and the line is now only in service between Bangkok and Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi.

There are no longer any trains running on this stretch of the line. The nearest railway station is at Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi, where trains of the State Railway of Thailand can be taken for a trip over the Whampo Viaduct and across the Bridge over the River Kwai to Kanchanaburi, which is the nearest major town and tourist base.Historical Preservation and Museum

The Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum (which we visit on our tours) and the preservation of the Hellfire Pass itself had its origins in 1983 when former Prisoner of War J.G. (Tom) Morris toured the area in Thailand and resolved to convince the Australian Government that portions of the Thai-Burma Death Railway should be preserved as an historical site. As a result of his efforts, the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) was commissioned in 1984 to make a survey of the railway to choose a suitable site. Jim Appleby, a SMEC engineer at the Khao Laem dam-site on the upper Kwai Noi, did much of the ground work and passed his reports to the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce in 1985. The first Dawn Service was held at the Hellfire Pass on Anzac Day, 1990, and the preservation and museum developed through efforts by both the Thai and Australian governments.

The museum is co-sponsored by the Royal Thai Armed Forces Development Command and the Australian government at the site to commemorate the suffering of those involved in the construction of the railway. It was built by the Office of Australian War Graves and opened by the then Prime Minister of Australia (John Howard). As a part of the museum experience, it is possible to walk through the cutting itself and along a section of the former railway track bed. 

Tour Code: AHP206DBKK
Tour Duration: (6 Days/5 Nights)
Tour Starts: Bangkok: 23 April 2020
Tour Finishes: 28 April 2020
Tour Cost: Per person: Share Twin/Double: £936.00
(Approx AUD $1695.00)
Tour Cost: Single Room Supplement: £318.00
(Approx AUD $580.00)
Deposit: £400 Per person
Final Payment: 90 Days prior
Tour Itinerary:

 Poppy - Spirit of Remembrance This Spirit of Remembrance V.I.P. tour includes the Official ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Hellfire Pass (25 April 2020) and the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. This tour also covers and explores the entire railway in Thailand with Thailand-Burma Railway Centre Research specialist from 24th - 28th April 2020

Poppy - Spirit of Remembrance  Tour operated on behalf of Spirit of Remembrance by: Thailand-Burma Railway Centre (TBRC), Kanchanaburi Thailand. Join us for a very special and unforgettable experience over 5 Days - combining the wonders of Thailand, the deep (and tragic) in-depth history of the Thailand-Burma Railway in WWII and extensive "off the beaten track" discoveries.

Poppy - Spirit of Remembrance  * Accommodation in Bangkok prior to Tour and post Tour: Please contact Spirit of Remembrance if you require Bangkok Hotel Booking(s). As a fully licensed Travel Agent we can book any Bangkok (Or SE Asian hotel(s) for any duration you require.

Day 1: 23 April:
 Arrive Bangkok: check into your 4/5 star tour hotel - Day at leisure exploring Bangkok. (B)
* Note: (Extra previous nights accommodation can be arranged as per above prior and post tour: (Cost extra - on request)

Day 2: 24th April:
(Travel to Kanchanaburi, Museum, Cemetery and half day or so local tour)
After early breakfast you will be picked up at approximately 8.00 am from your hotel and then travel to Kanchanaburi (approx. 3 hours travelling time from Bangkok), going via Ban Pong where the PoWs arrived by train from Singapore - and following their route to Kanchanaburi. On arrival in Kanchanaburi we meet up  in the Death Railway Museum to discuss tour plans, after which you will visit the the Museum and visit the adjacent Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
Lunch in Museum Café. After lunch we take you on a personally guided half day tour around Kanchanaburi visiting significant railway locations. These include the Aerodrome (Kanburi) Camp, the F & H Force Hospital Camp, Chungkai Cemetery & site of PoW camp, Chungkai Cutting & PoW work area.

We then take a long-tail boat on the famous rivers to the Bridge on the River Kwai. We then transfer to your hotel.
Accommodation at (or equivalent to) Royal River Kwai Resort, (or similar) a high standard resort on the river, with good quality restaurant, swimming pool & English speaking staff. Early to bed for early (3.00am) start in the morning.
Todays touring includes: personal transport from Bangkok via Ban Pong, admission to Museum/Research Centre, lunch & refreshments, Local Historical Tour in air-con vehicle & Accommodation (L)

Day 3: 25th April:
 (ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Hellfire Pass followed by Kanchanaburi Cemetery Service)
Note: Anyone deciding NOT to join the Dawn Service can opt out, sleep in - and join the major local Service in town at 11.00 am in the main Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. For the ANZAC Day Dawn Service it is an early rise for a 3.15am departure to travel to Hellfire Pass for the ANZAC Dawn Service (starts in Hellfire Pass railway cutting at 5.30am).
After the service we join the traditional "Gunfire Breakfast".
Return to your hotel around 8.30-9 am am to freshen up before joining the second Service in the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery which starts at 11.00am and finishes mid-day.
This afternoon is at your leisure. You may wish to revisit the Death Railway Museum and Research Centre for some air-conditioned reflection or any required follow-up from the service - or return to resort for rest and relaxation (or both).
Accommodation: Royal River Kwai Resort. (or similar)
Todays touring includes: resort breakfast, lunch, transport to and from Hellfire Pass and/or Kanchanaburi Cemetery in air-conditioned vehicle, return to resort & accommodation.( B L)

Day 4: 26th April:
 (Start of 2 Day personal History tour up country following railway route with a Researcher/Historian)
After breakfast and check out from hotel - pick  up at 8.30 am for todays historical tour following the march/truck route of most PoWs on their way to the railway visiting the locations of various camps along the way and learning the deep history of the events. Proceed directly north through camp locations of Lat Ya, Tha Dan, & across country to Wang Yai & Tha Sao where the PoWs linked up with the railway. Continue up country passing through camp sites of Kannyu, Kinsaiyok, Lin Thin, Hindat, Prang Kasi, Tha Khanun, (passing Tamuron Part, Konkoita, Shimo Ni Thea, Ni Thea) finishing the day exploring the area of Shimo Songkurai, learning about this difficult work area of the 7000 British and Australians of "F Force" on the railway.
Overnight at Suan Magmai Resort (or similar) at nearby Sangklaburi (230 klms from Kanchanaburi).
Todays touring includes: Breakfast, lunch, refreshments & dinner, plus full day history tour in air-con vehicle & accommodation. (B L D)

Day 5: 27th April:
(Personal History tour with Researcher/Historian continued)
After breakfast we take in some local cultural sites before taking the short trip north through the Songkurai & Kami Songkurai camp and work areas arriving at Three Pagodas Pass at the Burma (Myanmar) border to learn more of where the railway crossed from Burma into Thailand. Take the return trip along the railway including aspects not covered on the previous day. This includes major and dramatic sites such as the Hellfire Pass Memorial and walking trail and the Wang Pho viaduct.
Take the train on this still-working section of railway back to Kanchanaburi, being met at the Bridge Station and transfer to Royal River Kwai Resort (or similar) late this afternoon. Tonight we have a Farewell Gala dinner with your TBRC support team on the "River Kwai" prior to retiring for the evening.
Todays touring includes: breakfast, lunch, refreshments & Gala dinner, history tour in air-con vehicle, train trip & accommodation. (B L D)

Day 6: 28th April:
 (Choices as you wish with range of sightseeing/cultural options & return Bangkok)
After breakfast check out of hotel. Today is your choice of activities: Choices include local sightseeing, Erawan National Park and noted 7 Level Waterfalls, Elephant Park, Temples, Prasat Muang Sing Ancient Khmer ruins and cultural sites. In the afternoon/evening you will transfer to turn you to Bangkok (by separate arrangements)
Todays touring includes: Breakfast, lunch, refreshments, admission to Museum/Research Centre, admission to Erawan National Park & Prasat Muang Sing and return personal transport to Bangkok. Tour finishes on return to Bangkok. (B L)
(Note: We can arrange post tour accommodation for you in Bangkok if required (At extra cost) 

This group program specifically incorporates the commemoration of ANZAC Day in Thailand with an official and moving DAWN SERVICE at Hellfire Pass, with the majority of the program providing a unique and very personal in-depth understanding of all things related to the Thailand-Burma Railway. It is totally different to any other multi day tours otherwise available. This special pilgrimage focuses on researched facts by dedicated researchers & provides a unique behind-the-scenes look at the conditions & mostly unknown aspects of the railway and PoW camp and work-site locations.

Tour Includes:
Tour guide: Historical guidance by an experienced researcher from the Death Railway Museum/Research Centre - based on many years of personal and group research.(Fully licenced)
•  Meals as per itinerary including refreshments, soft drinks and water. (B=breakfast; L=lunch; D=dinner)
•  Admissions and fees as per program, including all options as listed.
•  Railway PoW Base Camps, Museums, War Cemeteries & the "Bridge on the River Kwai"
• 1 nights' accommodation Bangkok
• 3 nights' accommodation in Kanchanaburi
• 1 nights' accommodation up country at Sangkhlaburi
• Air-conditioned coach transport every day as per program and minibus support vehicle.
• Licensed Guides as required by Thailand law.
•  Accident Insurance (limited) cover in accordance with Thailand law.
• Spirit of Remembrance commemorative clothing/souvenir inclusions: (*Limited to appropriate items for tour region)
Items of a personal nature: including personal expenses such as telephone, fax, internet connection (if applicable) etc,
 Laundry, alcohol & special drinks
• Meals and snacks shown as as not included as above
• Museum fees (if applicable) unless specified as above
• Drinks

Please Note: Luggage: 1 large suitcase and 1 soft bag/backpack only per person)

• NO child rate applies & infants cannot be taken on this tour. Minimum age 12 years

Please fill out the BOOKING FORM for this tour and send it to us as soon as possible. Please also note the Terms and Conditions of bookings for our Battlefield Tours in the Booking Form. Once we confirm the booking we will require you to pay a deposit of €400 per person (day tour cost deposit) within 10 days of us confirming the booking.

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Space is strictly limited on the tours and at the ceremony.
Please CONTACT US if you require more information regarding this tour to this moving and historic ceremony. Space is strictly limited on the tours and at the ceremony.

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