By Colin Stiles, Son of Sgt Leo V Stiles VX40201 A Coy 2/29th Bn
Colin, his wife Marion and their son Terry, and daughter Kate were in Thailand as part of an organised ANZAC Pilgrimage tour 19th to 30 April 2008. Colin's comments are listed below.
On 25 April 2008, Anzac day, we were part of a big crowd at Hellfire Pass for the dawn service; this was a very special and moving service. Later that morning we attended a mid morning Anzac service at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. This is where my father is buried and I was lucky enough to be chosen to lay a floral tribute during this ceremony.
After that service we went to the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre Museum which is situated just over the road from the cemetery and presented a 2/29th Plaque to Rod Beattie the Managing Director of the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre Museum.
Below is a transcript of the speech I made when I handed the plaque to Rod Beattie as well as a photo of the occasion.
2/29th Plaque Speech
"On behalf of the committee and members of the 2/29th Battalion Association I would like to present to you this 2/29th Battalion plaque which is a symbol of the courage and suffering of the men of the 2/29th Battalion during World War 2. We hope you will accept this plaque and allow it to hang with pride and honour in your museum."
After the Plaque presentation I mentioned to Rod that my father had died during the railway construction. He stated his centre had an extensive data base of information and offered to research that data base for information on my father.
Although I already had a comprehensive list of information about my father I did not know he had worked in Konkoita and Lower Thimongtha before he died in Tha Khanun (Takanun) on 14 July 1943.
This information was extremely significant as after the surrender of the Japanese Forces on 15 August 1945 a decision was made that all POWs who died on the railway construction were to be re-interred in either Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery Burma or Kanchanaburi War Cemetery Thailand. Due to the vast extent of the 451km of railway, it was decided to divide the railway into 2 sectors, with the large marshalling yards at Neike affording a convenient point of demarcation. It was therefore decided that those buried between Thanbyuzayat and Neike would be recovered and re-interred at Thanbyuzayat. Those buried from Neike to Nong Pladuk (Thailand), would be relocated to Kanchanaburi. A small band of dedicated workers assisted the War Graves Commission Representatives with the enormous task to locate several thousand Allied POW remains scattered in approx 144 cemeteries. The task was made even greater as many cemeteries had been reclaimed by the jungle over the previous two years following the joining of the lines from both ends on 17 Oct 43.
I would recommend contact with the centre for any queries you may have. Their data base covers nearly all POWs, whether Dutch, British, American or Australian. Contact details for the Thailand-Burma Railway centre can be found by visiting the following link: http://www.tbrconline.com
Listed below is a copy of the information taken from the Thailand-Burma Railway centre data base for my father.