In 1943 thousands of Allied prisoners-of -war
(POW) and Asian labourers worked here under the Imperial Japanese Army
in order to construct part of the 4 15 k m long Burma-Thailand railway.
Most of these men were Australians, Dutch and British and they had been
working steadily southwards from Thanbyuzayat to link with other POW on
the Thai side of the railway. This railway was intended to move men and
supplies to the Burma front where the Japanese were fighting the
British. Japanese Army engineers selected the route which traversed deep
valleys and hills. All the heavy work was done manually either by hand
or by elephant as earth moving equipment was not available. The railway
line originally ran within 50 metres of the Three Pagodas however after
the war the entire railway was removed and sold as it was deemed unsafe
and politically undesirable.
The prisoners lived in squalor with a near starvation diet. They were
subjected to captor brutality and thus thousands perished. The men
worked from dawn until after dark and often had to trudge many
kilometres through the jungle to return to base camp where Allied
doctors tended the injured and diseased but many died. After the war the
dead were collectively reburied. In the three large cemeteries shown
below and will remain forever witness to a brutal and tragic ordeal.
||356 (Buried in U.S.A)
|Japanese and Korean
Construction time for the railway was 17 month. Period of effective use
was 21 months ending in June 1945. The railway line was dismantled by
the British after the war as it was unsafe. It was later relaid along
the section from The Bridge on the River Kwai to Nam Tok, a distance of
130kms. It is along this section that todays tourists can relive the
feelings of the war.