Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Bridge on The River Kwai and the Death Railroad

I have been having another round of down days as a result of a common cold (so I was told ) and have spent a few days lying around and taking advantage of my sweet wife's tender love and care for me , I'll be back to normal in a few days , all tho I may drag this thing out a few more days , just to enjoy this TLC, while I can , because the" Honey Do List "is growing on the frig door as I write . I
wanted to post something this week , and not wanting to strain my brain to much , I decided to revisit a post from the past and add alittle here and there , with a few more personal thoughts .I hope that is OK with you my readers and just maybe , some have not read all the older post and I thought this was a good one , if I do say so , several fellow blogers visited the area this year and wrote that the trip to Kanchanaburi and the Bridge on The River Kwai and the Death Railroad was the highlight of their holiday, I live here and still enjoy it every time I get a chance and find out or hear something new every time . The Bridge On The River Kwai and The Railroad I love history , but I am not a history expert.Living here in Wang Pho and on the River Kwai, home of the famous Bridge On The River Kwai and the famous Death Railroad ,I have learned a lot of WWII history,as it concerns our village of Wang Pho and the surrounding area. Here ,in our little village we are in the center of everything famous relating to the building of the bridge, and the death railroad in our area, built by the Japaneese Army ,using British and Aussie and some Dutch and few a American pow's and Asians. as forced laborers to get the job done.Twenty five miles south of us is the city of Kanchanaburi and home to the famous Bridge. Closer to our village is the famous viaduct,built out of timbers from trees in the local forest, the base for the viaduct is carved out of solid rock from the face of the mountain. the viaduct is still being used today and is the highlight of the tourist riding the train from Bangkok for a day trip,or an overnight stay in one of the resorts that Sai Yok is famous for ,all located right on the river and many with a view of the railroad also. The train slows to five miles and hour which gives you lots of time to take pictures and take in the sights while crossing , you are at a arms reach of the rock wall on one side and 150 feet from the bank of the river on the other side. I'm sure if the train were to go any faster the thing would surely come falling down , as some of the timbers are the original ones from WWII . Every time we take the train I say a little prayer before we cross. A few miles past our village is the end of the line for the railroad as it is used today , it ends in the city of Nom Tok. Beyond Nom Tok is what historians call HELL FIRE PASS .Hundreds of POW'S died here along with thousands of Asians, they were forced to work 24 hours a day ,using only hammers and taps, and hoes and shovels for tools, they also had to carry all the rock bolders and chips in small buckets to build the railroad bed. The pass was cut thru a solid rock mountain. When they worked at night they used lanterns , these gave of a erie glow with rock wall on both sides of the men , so it got the name HELL FIRE PASS . It is said by some that survived that to them it look like a scene HELL. The track has be removed , but the trails are now opened and the area is well preserved by the Hell Fire Pass Museum. You can still walk thru the cut and , it was hard for me to imagine that POW's as starved and abused as they were could have completed this feat without the use of heavy equipment, butttt they did , even tho many gave their lives , working to build the railroad that experts said was impossible to do . Located in the city of Kanchanaburi is a WW ll cementery where the British soldiers are buried,and I must say it is a most beautiful place and very well maintained . As I walked thru the cementery , I couldn't help but notice how many of them were soooo young and to read some of the words of praise and sadness added to the Head Stones in this well keep , not just a cemenetry , but a memorial to the lives of these men, I felt pain and and yes anger and tears began to roll down my cheeks and I had to take a moment to get myself together before we could continue our trip for the day .Many tourist that have relatives that died in the building of the bridge and railroad come here year round to mourn their lost loved ones, and to pay their respect, so that they never forget.On one visit there I ask one of the cemetery grounds keepers , what country do the most visitors to the cemetery come from and to my surprise he said "they come from Japan".Being courious , I have ask lots of folk "where is the cemetery and monuments for the forced Asian labours that died during the construction, and as always the answer is "there is none" ,sad , but that is history.Most of the pictures posted are my own , some of the old ones and some of the bridge, I gleamed from the net , a special thanks to whom ever took them and posted them, none were copyrighted to my knowledge. Hope you enjoy the pictures.Also I wanted to mention that the water tower is one of a few still standing from the war , and as a note a few years ago students from our local high school climbed up and there were still some live fish swimming around in the tank. Malcolm


David Herd said...

I enjoyed your post, here is one of mine about my uncle who worked on the railway and other places as a POW. He told me one days in the mines in Japan was worse than 10 days on the Burma railway.


David Herd

Malcolm and Ciejay Burgess said...

Thanks for the read and comment , and thanks for the great story.
I'll post your blog on my blog list and if you like would you do the same .

Malcolm and Ciejay Burgess said...

Thanks for the read and comment , and thanks for the great story.
I'll post your blog on my blog list and if you like would you do the same .

Lise said...

History reminds us that we humans have a side of us that is not complimentary. You've shared beautiful photos and information about the Bridge and the Death Railroad that many of us are unaware of. Thanks for sharing and making us aware!

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Villa for Rent Phuket said...

It's pretty amazing to witness all the history. I've been living in Phuket since 2006. To visit Kanchanaburi is definitely in my bucket list. Thank you for the great post and the pictures. I will be following your blog Malcolm and Ciejay.