Wednesday, 23 November 2011

WW2 Veterans Visit Singapore and Thailand for VE Day

Memorial Tour to Singapore and Thailand - on a budget!

Tour review by John Babbage
World War Two Heritage

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

We decided to make this trip as memorable as possible for the veterans, their wives and their siblings. With the veterans' average age being around 90, we were conscious of the fact that the chances of these fine, esteemed gentlemen returning here again were quite slim.

Our pre tour efforts involved spending weeks on extensive and exhaustive letter writing and PR, as well as pleas for cooperation from sympathetic ex-pats.

We managed to put together a special, genuinely unique tour, which we can say with total modesty would be hard to emulate by any other tour planner anywhere, not to mention keeping it within a tight budget. Our tour price came to £1800.00. The only similar tour we could find, without all the add-ons we provided, amounted to £2500.00

The result of our really hard work bore fruit by way of locating the “Wanderers” Rugby Club in Singapore, to which we are eternally grateful. Made up of tough ex-pats working in Singapore, they provided a 42 seater luxury coach (solely at our disposal) and, as a surprise, arranged a special trip for us to “Raffles” with all expenses covered, including the best champagne.

To their credit and our appreciation, the “Wanderers” also arranged an afternoon for us at the world famous Singapore “British Club”, which often receives heads of state including our own Royal Family.

The rooftop lounge was opened specially and the entire afternoon was devoted exclusively to the veterans and their accompanying families.

We communicated with the British Embassy and were present at their memorial service alongside the Gurkha contingent.

During the evening we were special guests at the British Defence Advisor's superb colonial style residence for a fish and chips supper with drinks.

Heartfelt thanks go to Mathew O'Leary of Barclays Capital, Singapore. Cheers, mate!

Singapore Krenji Cemetary

On to Thailand, transfer to River Kwai - Kanchanaburi

VE Day Service at the War Memorial, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, and then a poignant, off-the-cuff chat with Victor Vale, survivor, Burma rail road.

The last 2 nights of our visit were spent at the 5-star 'Sheraton Orchid' with luxury riverside rooms. Our hosts for the duration of our stay were the brilliant duo of Mr James and Mrs Noi Fanning. James, who is an an ex-pat, and his charming wife looked after the vets throughout. James and Noi gave up their time voluntarily to cater and organise all the localised trips and absolutely everything was laid on by this wonderful couple.

I am eternally grateful to them, as well as to Mathew in Singapore, for taking some of the strain off me. Being a pensioner myself, this did prove to be a pretty exhausting, although very worthwhile, trip.

(Photos and videos will be added to the website soon, in the meantime you can see some of them here.)

Please feel free to redistribute this article, as it shows the great work still being done for our WW2 veterans. Mr Babbage did a tremendous job putting together this tour and he hopes to be able to do many more of a similar nature. Heroes Return 2 Lottery funding for battlefield, commemorative and memorial tours is available until January 2012 for WW2 veterans, their spouses and, in some cases, their carers, too.

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