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Thailand - Burma Railway

"Death Railway"

June 1942, during World War 2, the Japanese Army started to build a railway using British, Australian, Dutch and American prisoners of war as slave labour. The Railway ran from Ban Pong, in Thailand, to Thanbyuzayat, in Burma, it covered a somewhat 415 kilometres , and was built through some of the most toughest, disease ridden terrain in the world.  The railway was built to improved communications and to maintain the large Japanese army in Burma.

The route of the railway

The Japanese aimed at completing the railway by the end of 1943.  Two forces, one based in Thailand and one in Burma, worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre.  The railway was built using the absolute minimum amount of mechanical equipment and a maximum of human slave labour. More 16,000 prisoners of war died building the railway, mainly of sickness, malnutrition and exhaustion and were buried along the railway.

It has been written that 'this railway was built at the cost of a life for every sleeper in its 415 Kilometre journey'.

POW's laying sleepers                                                           The remains of sleepers today

Our Journey

The temperature had already reached 40 degrees Celsius when we could get the jeep no further and had to continue on foot.
We were in the "Hintock Road" area. It once had three camps in the vicinity, one of which had a very rare commodity, a shower !
The 4x4's Temperature Gauge Showing 40c                                   Paul at the Old Hintock Station Location
Hell Fire Pass

This story was found in one of the museums in Kanchanaburi which best describe Hell fire pass.

"In April 1943, work commenced to excavate the cutting. A workforce of prisoners of war began the task of hacking back the jungle removing the loose earth and drilling in rock by hand. Little machinery was available. Most of the drilling work was done by the hammer and tap, a process whereby one man would hold and rotate a drill or tap while his mate hit the head of the drill with an eight to ten pound hammer. When the hole was deep enough, explosive charges would be used, the broken rock removed by hand and the process began again. The process was slow. As work fell behind schedule, and speedo was called, the work rate intensified. Work shifts lasting up to eighteen hours drilled, blasted and removed rock in a continuous operation. At night, the cutting was lit by fires, lamps or diesel torches. The eerie light and shadows of guards and gaunt prisoners of war playing on the rock walls suggested the name the site was given Hellfire Pass."

Hellfire Pass Then                                                                            Hellfire Pass Today

The Pack of Cards Bridge

One of the bridges at Hintok was nicknamed the “Pack of Cards Bridge”  So named by the prisoners, because it had collapsed three times during construction. 31 prisoners were killed by falling from the bridge onto the rocks below. Some had even been beaten and thrown off the bridge by Japanese guards.

                The Pack of Cards Bridge Then                         Paul looking for a relic at the bridge site

Down the Line

A sleeper                                                                                         Another bridge site

The line continues                                                                                            An embankment


Going deeper down the line                                                                                              Getting thicker


The Finds

  Paul finds the first rail pin                                                                                           Jay finds a bridge spike

Jay finds a pin                                                                                                     Looks like rain

One of the original rain pins we found.

Well That's the end of another crazy adventure.

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