This tale, while more than 70 years old, is a stark reminder of the kind of brutality that led to the decision to drop Atomic bombs on Japan. It was an act that was not only justifiable but undoubtedly saved the lives of countless Americans and allied troops.
The Japs, due to the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March and construction of the Bridge on the River Kwai, all which directly caused and/or led to the death of thousands of Allied Troops, justified the bombing.
In 1943, during World War II, the Japanese used Allied prisoners of war to build a railway from Thailand to Burma, including the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai, to supply their army without having to send the supplies by sea. Thousands of the prisoners worked under the crushing heel of the Imperial Japanese Army, and as happened during the Japanese Bataan Death March, many prisoners died under equally appalling and brutal conditions endured during construction of the Bridge on the River Kwai.
The entire project became known as the “Death Railway.” Most of the men working on the railway were Australians, Dutch and British forced to work steadily southwards from Thanbyuzayat, Burma, to link with other POWs on the Thai side of the railway. Japanese army engineers selected the route which traversed deep valleys and hills. All the grueling work was done manually either by hand or by elephant, as earth-moving equipment was not available.
The line originally ran close to the Three Pagodas Pass, which today marks the border to what was then called Burma (today it is known as Myanmar). After the war the railway was dismantled and sold, as it was deemed unsafe and politically undesirable.
The Japs were cruel and relentless. The prisoners lived in squalor with a near starvation diet. They were subjected to endless cruelty and thousands died. They were forced to work from dawn until after dark and often had to trek many miles through inhospitable jungle to return to base camp, where Allied doctors tended the injured and diseased.
After the war, the dead were collectively reburied in the War Cemeteries and will remain forever witness with regard to the Bataan Death March and to the brutal and tragic treatment of their POWs.
The infamous Bridge on the River Kwai (actually spelled “Kwae” in Japanese) was featured in the 1957 film with the same title. Although the film was made in Sri Lanka, the Bridge still exists and carries passenger trains from Bangkok.
The video below is a memorial and testimony to those lost to the Japanese brutality during the construction. Each ‘slide’ in the video lasts for a predetermined time. If you wish to view a particular slide longer, please PAUSE THE VIDEO.
The first few slides are textual and timed to display much longer than those following.
If you wish to view a ‘slide’ longer, simply use the PAUSE button.