A brief but true story
by Arthur Lane
Work on the death railway in Thailand had been completed by November 1943, and it was used by the Japanese to ferry supplies and reserves into Burma. The Japanese had created three main marshalling yards for this purpose, One in Kanchanaburi. One at Krai Krai and one in the middle at Brenkassi.
The one at Brenkasi was situated between three small hills, at the bottom of which were a number of caves which they used. Some for storing ammunition and military supplies and others for general merchandise and food.
The marshalling yard consisted of sixteen lines which were used for creating trains and for storage and garaging of wagons and engines. Several lines actually went into the entrance to the caves.
At one o’clock PM on the 25th June 1945, the air raid alarm was sounded by a metal bar being banged against a metal triangle, as three British and American bombers appeared on the horizon. Everyone either dived for cover beneath the wagons, or scattered into the jungle. The Japanese were notorious for running as far into the jungle as possible.
The raid lasted for around ten to fifteen minutes as the planes wheeled and dived picking out salutary targets. While this was happening, one of the Thai drivers manoeuvred his engine into the nearest cave and then ran for cover with the rest.
After the all clear was sounded, what few Japanese there were, immediately climbed onto whatever lorries and other vehicles were left unscathed, and made their way north toward Three Pagoda Pass. The local natives scattered into the jungle, and the few prisoners of war who had been working at the yard, returned back to their POW camp.
The Japanese decided that it would be futile to try and repair the damage which had been created up and down the line. Orders were given to all Japanese soldiers and engineers to make their own way down the line to Kanchanaburi, leaving Korean soldiers to guard the prisoners of war.
The war ended and days, followed by weeks passed during which time the local Thais helped themselves to whatever was left of the Japanese supplies. The railway lines were ripped out, floated down river and sold to the Thai railway authorities.
In the nineteen eighties, work started on creating a massive dam, the cente of which was Brenkassi. The engineering work had been undertaken by the Australian Smokey Mountain Engineering company, a group of workers who were foraging around located the train hidden inside the cave, And similar to true Aussie style arranged for its sale to the director of the Kanchanaburi private museum. Using their engineering knowledge they were able to transport the train from the cave where it had been hidden for the last thirty five or more years, down to the museum where it now stands on the opposite side to the entrance.
This museum incidentally is the one which was displaying the skeleton remains of prisoners of war.