Back to the River Kwai

Welcome to the Orihuela Costa and District Branch of The Royal British Legion

By Barry Scott

I have recently returned from touring Northern Thailand and Laos.

At one point during our journey my wife (Marie) and myself stayed in the River Kwai motel overlooking the River Kwai itself in the town of Kanchanoburi.

During our stay we visited the Thai war museum, managed by Buddhist monks from the local temple. The museum is named JEATH after the abbreviations of the six countries involved ( Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand and Holland.)

After the usual obligatory photo shoot we moved on to the rebuilt POW camp overlooking the river. The bamboo huts are laid out exactly as they were during the Japanese occupation with each prisoner having 23” to sleep on a rack.

The Death Railway and Kwai Bridge was started on Sept 16 1942 by 30,000 pow's and 200,00 impressed labourers.

The construction of bridge and 415 km of track was completed on Christmas Day 1944 at a cost of 16,000 pow's and 100,000 impressed deaths.

A major construction was the Hell Fire Pass which is about 40 km from the bridge and not far from the Burmese border. It is said that the pass cost one prisoner's life for each sleeper laid.

There are numerous poppies and miniture flags throughout the pass and at the memorial installed and maintained by the Australian War Graves Commission.

Finally I went to the two Cemeteries maintained by The War Graves Commision and placed an Orihuela Costa poppy cross at the cenotaph and one at the headstone of a Stoker 1st Class W Harris, as I was in 1957.

The Heading over the entrance seemed typically Buddhist  "May peace always conquer violence".

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