Brisbane motorcycle industry luminaries Dale Schmidtchen and Bruce Hartwig celebrated Anzac Day today along with other Aussies on a ride to the famous River Kwai and Hellfire Pass in Thailand.
Dale said he decided to visit the World War II historic sights after read a first-hand account of the horror and depravation that occurred during the brutal regime of the occupying Japanese Army and their intent to build a railway from Thailand to Burma, using prisoner-of-way labour.
“My friend and I hired 110cc and 125cc scooters in Bangkok and rode 200km to Kanchanburi, where the famous bridge over the River Kwai still exists,” he says.
With plenty of stops for sightseeing and drinks to combat the 42c heat, the big guys made it in about seven hours.
“It probably would have been less, but my Yamaha Fino was flat out at 70km/h,” Dale says.
“Along the way, we were passed by a large group of expat riders, plus some Aussies on bigger bikes, all heading to the service. They are the Anzac Riders, a friendly bunch who do this every year.
“The dawn service was something quite special and I was pleased to have made it to such a legendary place as Hellfire Pass.”
Dale says there would have been about 2000 people attending the ceremony.
“It was quite a surreal experience in the mist, cool air and sounds of tropical birds beginning their day,” he says.
Dignitaries from Australia, New Zealand and Thailand all laid the usual wreathes and gave stirring speeches, and then it was time for the crowd to make the long steep journey back to the museum and car park for a ‘gunfire breakfast’ that included Anzac Biscuits, plus tea/coffee, with a nip of Bundaberg Rum.
“At the breakfast, it was good to meet up with the other riders and swap stories, and details of the ride up, and the waiting ride back,” Dale says.
“Nothing says Australian camaraderie more than events such as this. A day of remembrance, a day of sorrow, a day of cherishing freedom tomorrow.”