Truth and Courtesy
An Independent Public School
Inspire to Aspire
For many years, Mount Lawley SHS has hosted an annual service with the Ex-Prisoners of War Association.
Although this video was made a few years ago, is provides an excellent understanding about the service, and the school's connection with the Ex-POW Association.
The following speech was given by Joanna (Year 11) in 2015 at our annual Ex-Prisoners of War Service in Kings Park. Joanna had just returned from ANZAC Day at Hellfire Pass on the Burma Railway.
Uncertainty is prominent in life, yet our sense of uncertainty cannot be compared to that of the Australian prisoners of war.
They were confronted with the uncertainty of their capture, unfamiliar terrain, unknown diseases, Australia's status in the war, and most terrifyingly, the uncertainty of their futures - whether or not they would see Australian shores again.
Yet, forever driving their strength, determination and hope was the thoughts of home, family and loved ones, as well as the spurring courage of their mates by their side.
One did not want to imagine their family's reaction to their son or brother being a notice in a letter sent from under foreign skies.
Although if they did return, it was known that none would return unchanged by the camps, railway, and the war itself.
This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the beginning of the construction of the Thai-Burma Railway and 73 years since the beginning of the Sandakan airstrip.
Around 22 000 Australians were captured by the Japanese in the Pacific and Asian theatres of war, and another 8 000 by the Germans in Europe during the Second World War.
The brutality of their captors and the harshness of their environment combined to create conditions that in the words of Bombardier Hugh Clarke, "looked like a scene out of Dante's Inferno."
Thousands of prisoners would not return to their homes, instead they lied in hero's graves; their sacrifice never to be forgotten by their successors.
Their acts of bravery, endurance, selflessness and mateship honored the memories of their fellow ANZACs and the legacy of the ANZAC spirit.
I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Quiet Lion Tour to Thailand, enabling me to hear the stories of ex-POWs from both relatives of the ex-POWs, and ex-prisoners themselves, as well as walk along the tracks they had laid over 70 years earlier.
Their stories were plagued with hardship, punishment and disease, yet their continuous strength, bravery, selflessness, courage, perseverance and mateship endured through their torment in captivity.
It is difficult to comprehend how, despite all the ex-prisoners have experienced, some hold their heads high, humor close and a willingness to remember their past in order to educate the younger generations and honor the memories of their fallen comrades.
The stories carried by the fallen soldiers' mates as well as their own memories of capture, amplify the presence of the ANZAC spirit and legacy within the ex-prisoners - something which has impacted and shaped our society.
Australia would not be the young nation it is today without the complete devotion and sacrifice of the ex-prisoners of war, and for that we are forever grateful.
These men should never be forgotten, and their everlasting spirit acts as guidance as to what it means to be Australian.
Hold your heads high knowing that these men gave their tomorrow for our today, and let them hold their heads high as their memories and sacrifice will forever be remembered and honored.
"To live in the hearts of those who loved you is not to die."
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Mount Lawley Senior High School aims to maximise the enjoyment of learning and achievement for all students within a compassionate and democratic school culture, encouraging them to be responsible, creative and engaged lifelong learners.
65 Woodsome Street
Western Australia 6050
Phone: 61 8 9471 0300
Fax: 61 8 9271 1126
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