MP greets local man at overseas WWII memorial

MP greets local man at overseas WWII memorial

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Hellfire Pass
Minister Matt Keogh was greeted by Kelmscott local Luke Nordick in Thailand.

Minister for Veterans Affairs and Member for Burt Matt Keogh MP, was pleasantly surprised in Thailand last week when he was greeted by local man and veteran Luke Nordick at the Hellfire Pass Memorial site.

Minister Keogh’s visit to the memorial site was part of a tour in tribute of Aussie Diggers and prisoners of war, and included stops at Sandakan, Hellfire Pass, the Bridge over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, and paying respects across Commonwealth War Graves.

“I thought it was such a typical Perth moment, that I can be visiting such a significant site in another country and still be greeted so warmly by a Burt local,” Minister Keogh said.

“Luke shared an amazing story of his dad who worked on the Burma/Thailand railway during the Second World War just a bit down the track from Hellfire, and of his brother dying in an Air Force plane crash, and of both these stories inspiring him to join the Air Force himself.

“Meeting Luke highlighted how nearly 80 years later, Hellfire Pass and the Burma/Thailand railway is still such a significant site for Australian families and the importance of remembering the human cost of the Prisoners of War and their families.”

Reflecting on his visit to Hellfire Pass, the minister was devastatingly succinct.

“Hellfire Pass is beyond words,” he said.

“Australian prisoners began working in the region of Hellfire Pass in April 1943.

“Many did not survive the brutal conditions – it’s believed that as many as 700 Allied prisoners died working on Hellfire Pass in just a few months from April to June 1943.

“I was honoured to lay a wreath today at the Hellfire Pass Memorial in memory of the Australians, and all those who suffered and died at Hellfire Pass and on the Burma/Thailand railway during the Second World War.”

In his speech at the Sandakan War Memorial, Minister Keogh spoke of the atrocities suffered by Australians at war, and also of the mateship that carried many through.

“It’s only through that mateship that we saw any survivors of this atrocity,” the minister said.

“I’m proud to join with you today, our mates, to remember the tragedy that befell Allied prisoners here, to honour the many who died and the civilians who risked everything to help them.”

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