Commemorating Anzac Day With Two Former POW

Neil McPherson, 96 years old, and Harold Martin, 101 years old, used to be soldiers in the Australian army. They also had the misfortune to be taken by the Japanese army as prisoners of war back in 1942. They never met but shared the same fate when they were captured and ordered to work at the Thai-Burma railway. They survived the work camps and decided to move to the Western Australia. Every year they celebrate Anzac Day but for this particular year they decided to go back to the place where Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is now located which is also the same place where they were taken captive.

According to Mr. McPherson, they started working on the railway on October of 1942 but even after two years of being held there they have never met each other. The first time he met Harold was in Albany and he is glad to have found a soul who understands what he has been through as a prisoner and a survivor.

Mr. Martin said that he is fortunate to be able to escape the war and the overall experience because he has nothing that will remindhim about what happened after returning in Australia. He never even shared the experience with his family members because he knows they will never be able to relate.

The Thai-Burma railway spans a total of 415kilometres and it was built with the hard work of over 60,000 Allied prisoners as well as POWs that are American, Australian, Dutch and British. Aside from the prisoners, there are 200,000 workers from all over Asia that came to help.

In commemoration of Anzac Day, every year the Australian POWs who survived the camp will go to Hellfire Pass, one of the most popular parts of the railway.

For this year, the two decided to be a part of the Hellfire Pass’ dawn service prior to visiting Kanchanaburi War Cemetery where the ceremony of Anzac Day was held. Mr. Martin said that the service impressed him because of the peace it offered. Mr. McPherson, on the other hand, has travelled there 15 times already.