Remembrance Day will be commemorated with a difference in Kanchanaburi Thailand in 2012, all those who attend the Remembrance Day Service at Don Rak War Cemetery in Kanchanaburi, Western Thailand will witness what can only be described as a “Run To Remember”. Frank DeSomer will complete the last leg of his epic Kwai Challenge “7 day run and cycle” at Don Rak Cemetery at 10.40 AM on the 11th of November.
The big hearted, fleet footed former U.S marine will be pushing the boundaries of endurance, fitness and stamina as he runs and cycles to honour the memory of Allied Soldiers who died during the construction of Death Railway, now known as the Thai – Burma Railway.
As Frank DeSomer dons his running shoes and makes his final preparations for the start of his epic journey at the Three Pagodas pass, ahead of him waits the path of a former hell, where perhaps now the spirits of old soldiers roam, they died in a land which was cut by their hand, the spirits of soldiers who never returned home. That it will take a super human effort for the ex soldier to complete his epic journey is a fitting tribute to the souls who lost their lives while building the infamous Death Railway. Pain and fatigue are not strangers to the long distance and endurance specialist. Pain, fatigue, cruelty, suffering and death was the price paid to cut the rock and lay the tracks of the Death Railway which we know today. Every stride and every push of the pedal which Frank makes on his punishing trail of endurance along the route of the Thai – Burma Railway for the 2012 Kwai Challenge will be dedicated to the memory of the 16000 Allied Prisoners of war who perished from starvation, disease and brutality at the hands of their Japanese captors during the Second World War between the years of 1942 – 1945.
Frank DeSomer, the American ex pat will have an entourage of cyclists and supporting crew following him for the duration of his 7 day challenge, on the final day motor-bikers and Harley Davidson brotherhood/clans will set off from Three Pagodas Pass and head off to the most famous of all the landmarks on the infamous railway, the Bridge Over The River Kwai, from there Frank, the cyclists and motorcyclists will make the final leg of the journey to Don Rak Cemetery.
A tribute to dead heroes.
There are some events and occasions in life which we remember because they touched our hearts or brought a tear to our eyes, anyone who has visited the war cemeteries in Kanchanaburi Thailand will tell you that there is an almost eerie quiet and serenity inside the cemeteries. Silence is one of the first things you notice as you gaze over the headstones under which the remains of 6,982 brave soldiers are laid to rest. At Don Rak War Cemetery 3,585 British, 1,896 Dutch, 1,362 Australians, 12 Indian, 2 New Zealander’s and one Canadian lay in their final resting place. The eerie quiet, the military tidiness and uniformity of the cemetery, plus the tender ages etched onto so many of the headstones has an overwhelming emotional effect on most visitors. The arrival of Frank DeSomer will bring to a climax what has been a symbolic and selfless gesture, a man who has pushed himself to the limits to honour those who were pushed beyond theirs, and perished at the hands of their cruel and brutal captors on Thailand’s Death Railway. May the 6,982 souls who were laid to rest at Don Rak War Cemetery never be forgotten. Good luck and Godspeed to Frank DeSomer on his “Run To Remember”.
The Kwai Challenge, Kanchanaburi Thailand.
Frank starts his Kwai Challenge “Run To Remember” at 0500 on the 5th of November 2012 at the Three Pagodas Pass, on the Thai Burma Railway (Death Railway, Kanchanaburi Thailand). The Kwai Challenge is one of many ‘Poppy Day’fund raising events organized by the Royal British Legion in Thailand.