This weeks Travel Theme is Bridges. One of the most famous Bridges that I have visited was definitely the Bridge on the River Kwai. During World War 2, the Japanese used Allied prisoners of war to build a railway from Thailand to Burma so they could supply their army without the dangers of sending supplies by sea. Many prisoners died under appalling conditions during its construction, and the line became known as the ‘Death Railway’.
It was immortalized in David Lean’s 1957 film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ which centers around one of the line’s main engineering feats, the bridge across the Kwae Yai River just north of Kanchanburi. The Bridge on the River Kwai really exists, and still carries regular passenger trains from Bangkok as far as Nam Tok.
.According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
“The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma. Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the center.”