Anzac Day - Khanchanaburi Thailand

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It was a well coordinated Anzac affair this year in Thailand organised by our good friend, Ex SAS Stewart Duncan (Slam) spearheading a social fund-raiser event for The Long Ride Home and New Zealand Fallen Heroes Trust.

As per Anzac tradition, there is always a post Anzac Day activity worldwide and it was no different this year in Thailand. With support from our Australian/New Zealand Embassies and as per good olde Anzac tradition, a beer tent, sausage sizzler, and a two up event was organised to entertain the troops.

None of these events are successful without participation and support from many people. Thanks for the great organisational skills and support from:

- Wayne Larkin - TLRH Event Manager.

- Stewart Duncan - Organiser for the event.

- The Australian and New Zealand Embassy staff in Thailand.

- Fraser’s Jomtien for their outstanding efforts and their donation/support for the Anzac Day sausage sizzler.

- Local support volunteers assisting Slam Duncan on the pre planning, setting up of the charity event and manning the tents on the day for both TLRH and New Zealand Fallen Heroes Trust's charity.

- Visiting military personnel from Australia and New Zealand for their attendance at the fundraising event.

- The local ex pat community in Thailand and others visitors from overseas who, after paying respects to our fallen heroes, attended the social activities.

Such an event as this one held in Khanchanaburi not only helps bring us closer together but assists in the total victory over PTSD on a global scale.

On a final note - a huge thank you (Kawb Khun Krub) to the Thai community including local Thai military who support the Anzac Day service held every year, the dawn service at Hellfire Pass and later a service at the Commonwealth War Graves Khanchanaburi.

Special Note.

The Long Ride will continue on this year (2017) with a ride from Bangkok to Burma to retrace the steps of Australian and British Forces namely those part of F Force, including my father Pte. William Sams who detrained in Ban Pong near Bangkok after a long arduous journey locked in a steel box cart carriage from Singapore then forced marched to the Burma border.

This will be my third journey along the Thai Burma Death Railway since walking the complete 315km journey in 11 days (in 2002 and 2005) to pay homage to those who died during construction of the railway and to those who survived and suffered from PTSD for many years after.

Sadly, as a young boy growing up I saw the symptoms of PTSD deeply set in my father and uncle who survived the war. This year's ride will again pay homage to our fallen veterans - WW2 POWs - and those that suffered as a cause from their time on the Death Railway and a reminder that PTSD is still with us until there is total victory over this terrible sickness.

 

Many thanks and warmest regards to you all.

Truck Sams and The Long Ride Home Team.

Total Victory Over PTSD.

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Gallipoli at Te Papa Museum

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I took the opportunity to visit the fantastic Gallipoli display at Wellington's Te Papa museum. A huge promotional sign stands high inside the entrance to Te Papa and immediately catches your eye on entering. It reads "GALLIPOLI THE SCALE OF OUR WAR" and that's exactly what Te Papa delivers as you meander through the museum display. Giant life like models of Gallipoli veterans are placed throughout the museum representing a known digger or a nurse who served at Gallipoli.

 

Designers and engineers (Weta Workshops) who made the models should be commended for their professional contribution in meticulously making the large models and displays.

Fine details such as individual hairs being threaded onto the hands, arms, and legs of the model diggers including the making of realistic tears that stream from the eyes down the cheeks of a nurse (staff nurse Lotte Le Gallais ) make the model displays almost real.

 

A large model of an army officer Lieutenant Colonel Percival Fenwick (field surgeon) leaning over a dead soldier Jack Aitken holding a set of dog tags caught my eye. I stood close by the model to get a feel for what the officer maybe thinking as he looked down on the dead soldier. On looking into his face I can could imagine the trauma he faced whilst thinking about the soldiers, by the hundreds, left to die, dead or already rotting on the battlefield.

 

A digger sits, staring , contemplating and about to eat a can of bully beef in the field. Life like flies sit on top of the opened can and a biscuit spread with bully beef in hand beckons to be eaten... flies and all.

 

The crowd gathers (young children as well) around a mud map model (incorporating lights and audio) of the Anzac Battlefields. The model shows hundreds of boats landing ashore and details of diggers going into battle to Chunuk Bair, Sari Bair, Battle of Hill 360, Lone Pine, Krinthia, and The Nek.

 

Other displays such as a documentary of the battles in 3D is shown, miniature models of gun pits, and a walk through a real life gun pit with video clips flashing either side of tunnel showing Turkish and Anzac diggers running through gave me the feeling of actually being in the tunnels with them.

 

Visitors are able to stand behind a wall of sandbags look through a home made periscope with a rifle attached above, view Turkish soldier in the distance, push a button to fire a shot off, and hear the sound of the shot as it leaves the gun barrel.

 

When it comes to World War 1 exhibitions, Wellington has two comprehensive displays that owe a huge debt to Sir Peter Jackson (Producer of Lord of The Rings) and his Weta Workshops for the fantastic real life displays at Te Papa museum and further downtown Wellington.

 

It's worth hopping on a plane to Wellington NZ just to visit the museum and get a feel for the trenches, certainly as realistic as Hollywood Award winner Sir Peter Jackson could make it to appeal to the visitors coming there.

 

Nine Australians Won the VC at Gallipoli;

Lance Corporal Albert Jacka (14 Btn) at Courtney's Post, 19-20 May 1915.

Lance Corporal Leonard Keysor (1 Btn) at Lone Pine, 7-8 August 1915.

Lieutenant William Symons (7 Btn) at Lone Pine, 8-9 August, 1915.

Corporal Alexander Burton (7 Btn) at Lone Pine, 9 August, 1915.

Corporal William Dunstan (7 Btn) at Lone Pine, 9 August, 1915.

Private John Hamilton (3 Btn) at Lone Pine, 9 August, 1915.

Captain Alfred Shout (1 Btn) at Lone Pine, 9 August, 1915.

Lieutenant Frederick Tubb (7 Btn) at Lone Pine, 9 August 1915.

Lieutenant Hugo Throssel (10 Light Horse) at Hill 60, 29-30 August 1915

 

One Australian VC recipient who grew tired of the adulation he received upon his return home wounded from Gallipoli was Corporal William Dunstan. He disliked the civic receptions he was forced to attend given in his honour and finally spoke his mind when he heard that a memorial fund was to be opened to collect money for him. In a letter to the press he declined this money claiming he was lucky to be able to return home to such accolades while the actions of others went unnoticed.

 

A New Zealander who won the Victoria Cross at Gallipoli was Lieutenant Colonel Cyrill Basset.

 

Cyril Bassett was the first and only New Zealand serviceman to win a VC during the First World War. He did so for distinguished conduct during the August 1915 offensive at Gallipoli. During the ferocious battle for Chunuk Bair, he and a handful of companions laid and repaired a telephone wire to the front line in full daylight and under heavy fire. Bassett’s decoration was the only VC awarded to a 1NZEF soldier during the Gallipoli campaign. 

 

Truck Sams TLRH at Te Papa museum Wellington New Zealand 

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Anzac Day in New Zealand

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The crowds for Anzac Day are definitely getter larger in numbers. After attending various Anzac Days throughout the Pacific over the last 5 years I've noticed the increase in young people at the dawn service and that was no different in New Zealand today.

 

Since the 100th Anniversary of the birth of our Anzacs (2 years ago) there has been more education and media attracting the larger numbers. What a great turnout in Christchurch New Zealand this morning. A lot of focus on mentioning Australia in the dawn service speeches by the presenters. “Good on you” to our kiwi cousins across the Tasman for turning it on, to which I would say, would have been one of the best Anzac dawn service I'd ever attended.

 

Cranmer Square, the location of the dawn service, has over 900 white crosses with the names of each soldier who died in WW1 in the first 90 hours of the war. Wellington, the nations capital, is planning to lay 17,000 white crosses including names of all soldiers who died in WW1. In New Zealand the Anzac spirit has really come to life.

 

I further attended a private Anzac service with my son 2Lt William Sams (2/4 Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment) at Christs College where he is head strength and conditioning coach in the physical education department.

 

The college laid out approx 100 white crosses in the courtyard representing the hundred college old boys who were killed in action WW1. An outstanding large black marble memorial plaque of Captain Charles Upham VC (with bar) WW2, a former Christs College student himself, stands on the Miles Warren classroom outside wall facing across the college grounds. On looking at the marble memorial shining in all its glory you can see a reflection of the sandstone college library in the background almost fooling the viewer to think the library is part of Upham's memorial.

 

A private ceremony and laying of a wreath was very appropriate to pay respects to those soldiers of WW1 who paid the ultimate sacrifice and to Captain Upham the only Commonwealth double Victoria Cross winner from WW2.

 

 

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Anzac Day 2017

Anzac Day is a day to pay respect and honour to those that suffered the ultimate sacrifice in past wars, and to take time to reflect on those veterans who are still with us in a world of their own dealing with their scars of war.


PTSD is still very much alive - the silent killer. The Long Ride Home continues on until there is total victory over PTSD.

I will continue this journey and will be attending ANZAC Day in New Zealand and chatting to NZ Troops about the Long Ride Home's mission.


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2/4 Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment

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It was pleasure to meet and talk to a group of New Zealand soldiers from 2/4 Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment today during their training for Anzac Day in Christchurch and surrounding suburbs.

A presentation about the Long Ride Home Hanoi to Sydney ride was welcomed by 20 soldiers comprising officers, men and women of 2/4 Battalion. Post Trauma Stress Disorder being the main subject - soldiers returning from conflicts abroad being the main topic of discussion with some interesting questions from our NZ troops across the Tasman.

Many thanks to the men and women (Officers, NCOs, senior NCOs and soldiers) of the  2/4 Battalion RNZIR for your kind invitation and hospitality on the day.

Truck Sams in New Zealand

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Thailand 2017

Back Training

Training in Thailand is going well. It's almost 12 months since starting out from Hanoi in May 2016 achieving a cycling distance of 10,000 Kms to Sydney. The Long Ride Home achieved one of its most important goals - raising awareness of PTSD.

Along the way, we met with many people and organisations that sincerely supported the ride. There were a lot of ups and down along the ride, battling heat on the Asia leg, the cold winter conditions and SA worst storms in 50 years in Australia, and finishing safely at the Sydney Opera house after talking to the minister for veterans affairs Dan Tehan MP and meeting the Governor General of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove, and Patron of the Long Ride Home Mike Jeffrey in Canberra.

On a very sad note, one of supporters who looked after the Long Ride Home team whilst passing through Ceduna was a victim of this terrible sickness, PTSD. Ashley Meeks (Ceduna police) sadly committed suicide which shocked family, friends and the local community - PTSD is real and without the preventative measures and further research PTSD it will strike when least unexpected.

I am committed to keeping alive the long ride home goals whenever and wherever I ride to continue raising the awareness of PTSD. The journey towards total victory over PTSD continues on as I stay on my bike training in Thailand with another organised ride to be announced for 2017 soon.

Truck Sams
Still Truckin in Thailand.

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New Leg

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New Leg from Artificial Limbs and Appliance (ALA) Brisbane

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Post Recovery

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Post Recovery

It's been awhile since arriving on the steps of the Sydney Opera House after 10,000 kms - the long ride home Hanoi to Sydney.

The fire is still in the belly and the thirst to continue riding for the long ride home cause is still very much alive. Since finishing in Sydney a few running repairs had to be done; a new artificial limb made in Brisbane by Artificial Limbs and Appliances, Xmas holidays with the family and a bit of relaxing to let the mind and body come back to earth.

I've been in New Zealand for a month catching up with family and friends and as mentioned the need to get on the bike has been sitting in the back of my mind but at the same time I've known that a good rest will make me stronger when continuing on the long ride home cause into 2017.

I caught up with a very close friend Des Thomson (former NZ Olympian cyclist) during my trip here in NZ. I've known Des since 1974 as did my brother Peter who raced as an amateur cyclist with Des in Australia, NZ and New Caledonia back in the 70s. Des and I were able to sit back for awhile in his outstanding B&B home (Kahurangi B&B) at Lake Tarawera (close to Rororua) and look out at the beautiful surroundings and a volcano in the distance and chat for hours about the health benefits of cycling, particularly into our senior years.

Des born in August of 1942 is still looking the very lean and mean cyclist I remembered him back in the 70s. A very keen cyclist when in NZ working his B&B abode and when living back on the Gold Coast during the kiwi winter months. During our discussions he has made a pledge that when he is riding with his group from the Gold Coast to O'Reilly's guest house that he intends putting a few dollars in a charity mug each time they ride up there and that would go towards the long ride home cause.

Thank you Des from the long ride team and look forward to riding a section with you in NZ should the ride continue as an Anzac Affair further down the track.

Desmond "Des" Ronald Thomson (born 22 August 1942) is a former racing cyclist from New Zealand.

He won the silver medal in the men's road race at the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games.

He went to two Olympics in 1964 (Tokyo) and 1968 (Mexico) competing in the men's road race and team time trial.

His brother Richie Thomson was also a New Zealand representative cyclist competing at two Commonwealth Games and the 1968 Olympic Games.

He also won the Australian Road title. He rode for Queensland having moved to the Gold Coast and joining Nerang - Gold Coast cycling club.

Truck Sams

Chilling back after the 10,000 I'm long ride home finish in Sydney 20th November 2016

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The Long Ride Home Australia

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The Long Ride Home Crossing Australia October 2016

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