The Story of the Death Railway
By | March 2, 2017
On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched their surprise assault on Pearl Harbor. On the same day, they also attacked Dutch and British positions in South East Asia. About 140,000 prisoners were captured including Dutch, British, European, Australian and around 36,000 Americans from the Philippines.
When the battle of the Philippines ended by 8th of May 1942, the Japanese signed a contract with the Thai government: in order to absolutely complete the strategic supply line for the soldiers and materials to Burma to be able to fight the British army, they were to construct the railway of 415 km.
The Hellfire Pass
They employed more than 250 thousand workers for this project, and about 200,000 men died.
Commemorative plate located at the border between Thailand and Burma
In total, 61,700 Prisoners of war - 30,000 were British, 18,000 Dutch, about 13,000 Australian, and 700 Americans - with 250,000 recruited laborers comprised of Burmese, Tamil, Chinese, Malay - laboured to finish the railway which was utilized in October 1943.
Nearly 12,000 POWs died. There were no records for Asian demise, but all in all, more than 150,000 have died.
72 Years Ago
They enslaved almost 30,000 POW and workers to linger near the bridge to help with the repairs after the multiple bombings from the RAF and the USA. Countless prisoners died during the raids. The remaining prisoners were sent to Japan by ship without any POW insignia and some were attacked by submarine Allies, still others died while on the way due to starvation or dehydration.
These brave men have done a very unimaginable job, working 16hrs/day carrying heavy materials under tropical climate and extreme conditions, such as tortures, malnutrition, and also food starving as punishment. There is also the monsoon from May to October, wounds infection, malaria, dengue fever... Several men died suffering due to poor medical care.