KANCHANABURI was the principal base camp in
Thailand for the Burma-Thailand Railway. It had large hospitals for the
many thousands of sick Prisoners of War (P.O.W.) who built the railway.
The railway in the Kanchanaburi region was laid during 1942. Many
natural obstacles were encountered, the first being the River Kwai Yai
with its famous bridge 4 km to the north. However it was not as
difficult to construct this section as it was that in the mountainous
country north of Nam Tok (during 1943).
From the. Burma base camp at Thanbyuzayat 364 km to the north. P.O.W.
drove the line southwards across progressively hostile terrain.
By early 1943 disease, starvation and overwork had so depleted the P.O.W.
workforce that the Japanese were forced to bring 270,000 Asian workers
onto the line to maintain laying schedules. As the Burma-Thailand
Railway neared completion, the death rate in both labour groups soared.