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Tony’s a man on a mission

Saturday, 14th April, 2018

Tony on the Thai-Burma Rail tracks. PICTURE: Supplied Tony on the Thai-Burma Rail tracks. PICTURE: Supplied

The death march along the Thai-Burma Railway is a harrowing journey for anyone, but for Antony Zahra he won’t let the pain slow him down.

On March 31, local Antony Zahra and his support crew commenced the walk of the Burma/Thai railway in memory of Australian POWs who built the railway with blood, sweat, tears and more than a few lives back in WWII. They have planned to finish the walk in 24 days, lay a wreath in memory of all Australian defence force veterans and to raise awareness of PTSD. 

As a former soldier and an amputee, Tony, has encountered many trying and difficult times.

He walked the Kokoda Trail, in 2016, unassisted with only the help of his crutches.

He broke the World Record time for a full leg amputee.

Now he and a small team of ex-servicemen, including fellow local, Ben Harris, along with Chris Hewitson, will set out to walk the infamous World War II Thai-Burma Railway. 

Their aim is to finish the 350-odd kilometre trek on ANZAC Day at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery for prisoners of the Japanese who died building the railway. The cemetery is about 130km north-west of Bangkok.

He said that a PTSD support organisation, Warrior Racing Limited, had given its backing to the venture along with affiliates including Soldier On, CommandoTrust, and the SAS History Foundation.

Twelve days into the trek and Tony is proving that his mental and physical strength are at an all-time high despite the constant struggle.

“My hands are blistered, my foot is very blistered and in between my toes is so painful,” he said.

“I will not stop, my mind will not let me.”

On April 11, the team reached the Hellfire pass and trekked another 13km.

A lot of locals have been coming out to meet Tony and his team.

“I have found three rail spikes, what an experience to hold history in our hands,” Tony wrote on the Facebook page - Warrior Racing, Death Rail March, ANZAC Day, 2018.

“I gave one to Ben, one to Dominic and one for myself. (Team member) Scot also found one. 

“We came across an old farmer, what a lovely guy and he was able to show us and wanted to sell a few additional rail relics. 

“I purchased two spikes for presents for people in Broken Hill. 

“That day we covered approximately 15km along the railway line including the Thamkrasae bridge crossing, which parallels the Kwai Noi River, what an amazing experience walking across this bridge. I will never forget this experience, ever. 

“The going for me was very hard, the blisters on my hands and feet are very painful, but I will not stop. 

“The temperature on the rail line is around 35 degrees and so hot.”

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