Thailand-Burma Railway

Thailand - Burma Railway

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      Working Party

      Ronald Searle

      Ron Taylor -

      Came across this about the work gangs, thought it could be of interest. The Japanese organised the prisoners into work gangs of about twenty in each called kumis, two or more kumis were called a han. The kumis leader was called a kumichos and the han leader a Hanchos, these were usually officer-prisoners.


      The Japanese required two bridges at Tamarkan, the first being a bridge built of wood, fifty feet above the Mae Klong River, near where it joined the Khwae Noi, it had a 800 foot span. It was not actually on the Kwai as the film depicts. The piles were huge and the men had to wade all day in waist deep water.

      The trunk is not a piling as these were square shaped

      Leo Rawlings

      © Copyright J. Mullender

      A primitive pile driver was used to knock in the uprights. This was a metal weight supported on a timber frame using pulleys. The prisoners had to pull on the ropes to raise the weight high enough to knock the timbers in, Ichy, Ni, San, Yon, on the shout of Yon the rope was released (one, two, three, four).

      Bridge in the Valley of the Kwai

      Leo Rawlings

      © Copyright J. Mullender

      Typical work gangs consisted of the following, a group hauling the teak timbers from the river bed thirty feet below using pulleys, another work gang carrying and stacking the timbers, a work gang sitting on the ground cutting the ends of the piles into sharpened points, another work gang breaking stones and piling them, an organised hive of activity and the worst job of all pulling on the ropes using the pile driver.

      The entire bridge was built around those sunken piles which were not treated, so as soon as they were laid the beetles started borrowing into them, the bridge was therefore very temporary.

      The wooden bridge was completed February 1943.

      The next was a concrete and steel construction to withstand air raids and insects, the Japanese had a bridge in Java dismantled and transported eleven of its 72 foot steel spans to Thailand.

      Railway of Death by John Coast.

      Although John Coast users the real names of the Japanese and Korean Guards he users fictitious names for the prisoners. This book was written in 1946 and it was thought the prisoners did not want to be named after their freedom, they should be left alone.

      I do like this book, so much so it is getting very worn. This is the only book my pop ever read about his prisoner of war life on the Death Railway. He liked the book and said it was very true to fact.

      Here is some information from it.

      Group II worked on the bridges at Tamarkan, Chungkai being their H.Q. The Japanese in charge of the Chungkai camp was Colonel Yanagida and Chungkai was about four kilometres away from Tamarkan. The camp increased from seven huts to about twenty this included a hospital. It had about six large trees which gave shade, clumps of bamboo and groups of mango trees, there were small forests on the hill slopes.

      Two Japanese engineers controlled the working parties, Taramoto and Kariama. Nobasawa, the 'Horse Doctor', was a chemist of sorts, not a real doctor, he was later promoted for his atrocities to Lieutenant. These three had the final say over Colonel Yanagida, who was a Leiut.-Col. clerical administrator only.

      The Japanese issued news in the form of the ‘Bangkok Chronicle’ which of course was very biased. Every day a news bulletin was also given from the secret wireless. A wireless was built in every camp Group II were at, till June 1945, the first being constructed in Banpong. In Chungkai one was constructed in a water bottle, another in a cylindrical cigarette tin and another in a flat biscuit tin. The batteries for the wireless were obtained from the Thai canteen owner, Boon Pong, he had a business in Kamburi. The canteen was controlled by Pong but was under the Japanese, who took the profits. The canteen had two managers one being 'Grey Nob', who had a curious husky voice, he was the chief cook, he also ran a black market.

      The sick from the camps further up country started arriving at Chungkai and the hospital started to take over the camp, leaving three out of the twenty huts for fit prisoners. Even the atap church had prisoners sleeping on the floor. Diphtheria hit the camp and even the tropical ulcers were infected with it. The treatment was simple, laying for at least two to three weeks flat on the back, moving as little as possible, a serum was administered from a recovered patient, with no visitors, this was to stop heart strain and certain death from it.

      500 men were wanted at Wun Lun for maintenance work and these were selected from the fittest at Chungkai, it meant a six kilometre journey which the men were dreading, but they travelled in the light diesel trains which were converted from diesel lorries. The light trains travelled over the twenty-five kilometres of line which Group II had built in the last four months. The country between Chungkai and Wun Lun was a kind of common land with bamboo jungle and attractive areas. Wun Lun camp had held two to three thousand prisoners, when the group arrived there were less then 100. The huts were built by the Japanese, therefore the entrance door was very small in height, about 5ft 4in.

      Colonel Knights took a party to Tarsao were he became the Commander of Group IV, there were five groups in total, Group II had about 11,000 men in it, the other groups were made up of similar numbers.

      Any information on the Death Railway, camps etc. please send it in so it can be added to the Death Railway pages.

      Michael Hurst - Correction on this article - the "Pack of Cards" Bridge was built near Hintock - 80 kms or more up river from the bridges at Tamakam - well past the current Hellfire Pass and Museum.

      I am not quite sure what the wooden bridge was called - perhaps one of the former POWs might know. Your description of the concrete and steel bridge is correct. It was bombed by the British and the centre spans were destroyed. They were replaced right after the war by a Japanese work force under Allied supervison. The current "Bridge over the River Kwae" dates from that time.

      Janet - I am sure you all know this anyway but HANCHO is were we get the expression THE HEAD HANCHO from meaning the 'guvner or head man.

      The way the Japanese pronounce it sounds rather like HONCHO and therefore lots of people think it's Spanish/American.

      However we can all thank our dear Japanese cousins for that one !

      Michael, your description of the centre supports of the bridge being destroyed reminded me of a story my Dad told me, I am not sure if it was the bridge or the railway line at Wampo viaduct, but the allies were giving it some stick and my Dad and his mate got a clump round the head for sniggering as the allies were dropping bombs.

      I asked him if it hurt and he said he couldn't remember cos they couldn't stop laughing at the Japanese and Koreans in charge going ape !!

      Keith - There were two bridges at Tha Makham or Tamarkan, the first being wooden, and constructed to get POWs and supplies across the river. By all accounts that I have read it left a lot to be desired, the sway on the Millenium Bridge in London had nothing
      on this one. The other was of course the steel span bridge, both were badly hit in a Liberator raid on February 13th 1945. One guess who repaired them. I hope this helps.
      An interesting note from "River Kwai Railway" by Clifford Kinvig, there were some 688 bridges built over the course of the Railway, ranging from the big steel structure noted above, to small wooden structures, but there were another six steel and concrete structures that crossed tributaries of the Kwai in Burma, called Zami,Apalon, Mezali, Winyaw, Khonkhan, and Myettaw rivers.

      For information, from the Kinvig book referred to in an earlier message;
      "The work parties themselves were called Kumis, groups of 30 to 50 workers in charge of one of their own officers, the Kumicho, who was usually a Lieutenant; two Kumis would make a Han commanded by a Hancho, a captain. These officers wore armbands and it was their responsibility to see that the designated work task was completed on schedule, to negotiate over difficulties, to intercede on their mens behalf and to attempt to avert the beatings which the Japanese were wont to inflict on those who failed to obey their orders instantly" Hope this is of use.
      Just for Janet however, another gem from "Prisoner on the Kwai", Reconnaissance aircraft were referred to by prisoners and the more friendly guards as 'come look see go back speakie planes'
      There was no way Head Honcho was going unanswered!

      Ron - Some more added from John Coast.

      Chungkai was always rated by Group II as the best camp in Thailand. This was the first and oldest of the Group II camps. It had a stale or earthy smell and there was not much space for bathing at the river. The Thais had told the Japanese that the camp flooded every year at monsoon, in 1944 it flooded twice. The camp lay on the river bank with a tributary running at the rear, this flooded first, flooding the bottom half and this slowly crept up till the bottom half of the main row of huts was under water, the football field became a lake and the latrines disappeared under the water. Two days later the Mae Klong River flooded and this would go straight into the camp, washing out the cookhouse, canteen and huts next to it. Swimmers would go upstream and steer large trees being washed down stream into the camp for the cookhouse fires. When the flood was at its worse only two acres of the camp was dry. Thai boats darted about the camp tying up near the theatre, where many bathed in the deep pool made by the auditorium. The floods usually lasted a week and a foul smell lasted way after this.

      The Mess Officer was on his way to the cookhouse early one morning heard a hissing sound, seeing meat for the pot he grabbed a bamboo stick and gave chase. Dead snake in hand he entered the cookhouse to be told by the Malayan planters it was a Hammadryad - King Cobra. It is one of the deadliest snakes in the world and has the reputation of attacking men. It was eleven feet eight inches and made into steaks in the cookhouse.

      By the middle of 1944, eggs, oil, rice, vegetables and fruit had risen from 200 to 400%. The Chungkai - Kamburi area was under Allied Air Force surveyance. Raids were being carried out on the Tamarkan Bridges, some prisoners were killed in one of these raids, and the wooden bridge had to be repaired afterwards.

      The camp turned for the worse when Colonel Yanagida went to command Nakom Paton Base Hospital and Colonel Ishi took over as Group commander. He had a idiotic grin with a high pitched laugh, he would work himself into a frenzy and lash out at anything near by. Kokubu was his Camp Commander, he was always drunk and hated the officers, he also hated the Koreans. Once he went berserk with his sword and attacked his own men, he was a hard man and a judo expert.

      With these two bad Japs in charge of the camp the other Japs followed suit, one Korean private broke two officers jaws within a week.

      By now the Tamarkan bridges were constantly bombed along with Kamburi Supply Camp and the Nom Pladuk sidings, there were a good 100 casualties amongst the prisoners.

       The planes would go in low over Chungkai camp, so low their markings could be seen, and cover the 4 kilometres to Tamarkan in seconds and the explosions were then heard. Eventually both bridges were put out of action.



      Janet - Reading this has made my blood run cold, I have heard the story of nutty Jap attacking everyone with his sword and also of the flood so many times from my Dad.

      I am not sure that these are the same instances, but the story of the Korean who smacked his two superiors in the face in one week rings bells with not only me but my two kids.

      He told the tale of the Korean who went "APE" and smacked his two Japanese superiors in the face in the same day (?).

      Legend has it ( according to the old chap ) that they beat him to a pulp around the head especially, and that he died of Meningitis some days later !

      He didn't make it up,( he was not disposed to saying anything let alone fabrication ) but whether it was this one or not who knows ?

      But the fact we have all heard the King Cobra story too may be significant, seeing as he wouldn't read any books, with the exception of Billy Taylors .

      Keith - A happy Easter to you all, the weather is great here, for the moment anyway.
      I am returning the book "Prisoner on the Kwai" back to Jean today. Basil Peacock, the author, was at Chungkai in its early days, as he was part of the force building it. You may recall the elephant and the grindstone story from earlier in the week, well that was at Chungkai. It was the early days of the camp, which would become HQ to Group 2, and hospital to Groups 2 and 4.
      The following Japanese personnel are noted for this camp:
      Quartermaster - Lt. Gota
      Sargeant- Gunso Yotanne`, nickname Crazy Gunso
      Lance Corporal- nickname Tiger Skin, as he wore a Tiger Skin Belt rather than standard service issue.
      Engineer - Watanabe
      Korean Guard - Hadimoto - nickname Unconscious
      However, these characters were not always at Chungkai, and transferred up, down or off the line as orders took them. Much the same as with the POWs.
      Peacock returns to Chungkai in 1944, and still finds it a good and pleasant (if that's the right word)camp.
      Donald Smith's book "And all the Trumpets" paints a very different picture, but he was forces there as the cholera epidemic was starting to really get going. What may not of
      helped is Smith's group being met at the gate by a POW who had lost his mind, and would wander around all day chanting "Chungkai, Chungkai, that's where the Englishmen come to die."
      And die they did, I regret to say.
      I have yet to read this book again and make notes, much as I have done with Basil Peacock's book.

      Janet - My Dad had Cholera and was at Chungkai, so I guess it may well have been while he was there.

      Much like Peacock he thought that was a good camp or posting as he referred to them, in fect the only one he ever "complained" of was the job they were on at Xmas 44 and in early 45 where Bud Smith died. on Xmas day 1944 he ended up being the only English man in the small party, the rest was made up of Malay Volunteers, and some Indian troops who had been taken prisoner in Burma also some Dutch that were out of Java or somewhere there abouts, there were 44 of them and they NOTHING at all for food.( I think this could have been the camp they were with under Capt. Pitt - Dr Hardys Diary )
      The camp immediately down from them was almost as badly off but had somehow got hold of a wild pigs head, I guess the Japs had had the body or something ( not sure), but they chopped the head in half and sent it up for them with a note " love from Father Christmas ".
      Christmas Dinner was always SO VERY SPECIAL to the old chap, and he would always say grace, I am sure many many years he thought of that Christmas Day, and his grace was always the same " We thank you God for this Good Dinner, AMEN", when he said grace this last Christmas day, I knew in my heart it would be his last, WHY ,I don't know, but bless him it was.
      Ahh, I must not be sad, I must count my blessings just as he did.

      Ron - Jack Symon was at Chungkai, there are three chapters from his book 'Hell in Five' on the camp.

      Starting at: 

      Janet, did he tell you about the races and the football matches.

      My dad played for the England team at centre half, he was so proud in later life to say he played for England.

      The Jimmy O'Connor he mentions was a also a mate of my pop, they all joined up in the 4th Royal Norfolk’s together.

      Janet - My Father-in-law was in Poland under the Nazi's for 6 years, he played on the England team and still has a photo, which he delighted the grandchildren with when they were young by saying "this is when I played for England".

      He is now 82 & half and in really reasonably good health, recently he complained that his legs were aching and when Mother-in-law said " what have you been doing" he said " not alot, but I did play in goal this morning with the boys over the rec." !!

      Michael - I have a very poor picture of the Pack Of Cards Bridge at Hintock which I will attach to this email.

      Pack of Cards Bridge

      For everyone's info - I am not a real authority on the Death Railway - as I said in an earlier email, my expertise is on the Taiwan POW camps and I stay very firmly focused on this area as it contains so much in itself that I don't have time to get involved with other areas of SE Asia where the POWs were held.

      That said, I have been to Thailand on several occasions and have done some research in the area of Kanchanaburi and Hellfire Pass. In additon to my own research, my main source of information is the person who I consider to be the best and most knowledgeable source on the whole Death Railway and that is Mr. Rod Beattie, the curator of the CWGC Cemeteries at Kanchanaburi and Chungkai. He has travelled the length of the railway, locating and mapping the sites of the former POW camps and work areas, and he has amassed the largest database of POW names and information that there is to be had on the Death Railway.

      In the future I would suggest that anyone wanting to veryify names and locations of POW camps and work sites along the railway, or trace POWs or camps that they may have been in, get in touch with Rod and I'm sure he will do all he can to help. His email address is .

      Right now Rod is very busy with the construction of what will no doubt be the best and most comprehensive information centre on the Death Railway and it will be located close to the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. As I write this Rod is extremely busy, so one might have to wait a bit for an answer, but I'm sure Rod would love to help anyone with their queries as I do here in Taiwan.

      Hope this has been of some help.

      Ron - Pack of Cards Bridge was built just north of Hintok

      Pack of Cards Bridge

      It was almost a quarter of a mile in length and eighty feet in height, it collapsed three times while being built. Thirty-one prisoners died from falling from it and about the same amount died from the results of beatings while working on it.

      Keith - The flood of the camp at Chungkai - Hardie's Diary, 28/7/44, reports the biggest floods being in progress, the River Kwai Noi has risen higher and is pouring over the bank into the cookhouses, canteen, and theatre. The lower ends of the camp have been flooded as well.

      Alan - My fathers name is Ernest Leslie Brailey from Swansea,he was in the Royal Regiment Artillery 856107.He was posted to Malaya in 1939 to the 9th coast regiment,and was taken pow in Singapore in 1942,from the MOD papers I recently received it states my father was taken to the following pow camps.
      1 Changi camp on 15/02/1942
      2 Tonchan (Siam camp) 11/11/1942
      3 Tonchan-south 08/05/1943
      4 Nakon paton 17/04/1944
      This is the only information I have,like many pow my father never talked about his experiences.
      (1) What I would like to know is, where were the above camps in Siam?
      (2) Did pow from these camps work on the Burma railway?
      (3) Does anybody recall the name Leslie Brailey?
      (4)could you recommend any books which relates to the above camps or area?
      Any help would be very much appreciated.

      Ron - Changi was the departure Camp for transportation of the prisoners.
      He would have travelled in the cattle trucks from Changi to Thailand, the journey took five days.

      Tonchan is a camp on the Thailand-Burma railway.
      The Death Railway site has a map and some detail on this camp.
      You will find it under Camps Section Two.
      By the dates he was at the Tonchan Camps it follows he was with Group IV, Nakon Paton was a hospital Camp.

      The Book Library at:
      Lists over 250 books with a brief summary on each.

      There has been some feedback in the Monthly Revue this month on the Thailand-Burma railway at:

      Perhaps someone who has researched these camps will help further.

      Hope this is of some use.

      Keith - Sorry not to have got back to you earlier Alan, just finished with another enquiry. I may be able to help as my dad was on the Coast Guns and in the camps you mention.

      To answer your questions:
      1) yes
      2) yes
      3) I regret not, but someone may
      4) Ron has replied on this one, but it is a case of where do you want to start.
      My father was posted to Malaya in 1939, to the 7th Coast Regiment, Buona Vista Battery, from there to the 11th Coast based on Penang, and after the retreat down Malaya, to the 9th Coast as a forward artillery observer. Do you know which battery you father was with, the 9th Coast had three. I am in contact with one other who had a father in the 9th Coast, but knows nothing more than that. My father was in Tonchan from 5/11/42 to 10/4/43. He was with work group 4, and it appears your father may have been also.
      As Ron has stated, Nakom Paton, or Nakom Pathom was indeed a hospital camp,and is referred to in The War Diaries of Weary Dunlop.
      There are some matters you and I need to talk about, so please contact me direct at;

      Ron - From the Death Railway by Clifford Kinvig.

      The main camp at Non Pladuk was situated very close to the railway workshops and supply sheds and this was targeted for the Allied bombers in 1944. The prisoners were not allowed to dig slit trenches and had only their bamboo huts for protection. On September 6th twenty-one Liberators bombed the railway yards, the first wave hit the yards only but the last plane on the second flight released his bombs too soon, hitting the prisoners huts, killing ninety-eight prisoners and injuring 330 more. After this raid the Japanese camp commander would still not move the camp but did let the prisoners dig trenches.

      At Tamarkan further raids on the bridges there took place, at the end of November 1944, a raid killed seventeen prisoners and wounding a further sixty.

      When the prisoners complained about the Japanese ack-ack guns being situated alongside the camp, the Japanese commander replied, “We have given you guns right beside the camp to defend you against the planes”

      Chungkai Theatre: After the railway was finished the prisoners had more time to relax, a theatre was built using raw materials at Chungkai and in the evenings the men would join in the community singing.

      A orchestra was built using anything the musicians could get their hands on, the Japanese even attended these.


      Late in 1944 the planes started dropping pamphlets over the camps, with news of the war, one said “Take heart, we are coming !“

      The attacks on the length of the railway continued till the Japanese capitulated.

      Keith - >Alan, Let me try to answer some questions. This message I will post on the message board for others to use. So, to start with your questions: The 9th Coast Regiment comprised of the following Battery's:

      7th Coast Battery manned,
      Jahore Battery, 3-15inch guns, mount 1 was a MK.1 mount which could not rotate, mounts 2 and 3 were Mk.2 mounts which could rotate, and fired off 194 rounds of AP ammunition against land targets, designed for use against ships, but that was all they had. The fact the guns could turn dispels another lie.

      Betang Kush Battery, 2-6inch guns.

      22nd Battery manned:
      Tekong Battery, 3-9.2inch guns. These were turret guns and could rotate, and fired 75 rounds of HE, and 200 rounds of AP.
      Sphinx Battery, 2-6inch guns
      Ladang Battery, 1-12pdr gun
      Pulau Sajahat Battery, 2-12pdr guns
      Calder Harbour Battery, 2-6pdr guns

      32nd Battery manned:
      Pengerang Battery, 2-6inch guns
      Changi Battery, 2-6inch guns
      Changi Outer Battery, 2-6pdr guns
      Changi Inner Battery, 2-6pdr guns

      Let me explain a bit of detail. The inch measurement of the guns is the diameter of the barrel, so you would find 15inch guns on Battleships, 6 inch guns on Cruisers. Those noted as pdrs, or pounders is the weight of the shell and were found on old Destroyers, minelayers and the like. All of the above were under the control of Changi Fire Command, which was based on Changi Hill.

      Files in the PRO record the destruction of some of these Battery's to prevent capture by the Japanese. My father's papers show that many of the Changi gunners were killed in this area.

      In the Documents section of the Imperial War Museum there may be found the Nominal Roll of the 9th Coast Regiment RA, written in Changi by G.H.V.Wilcox in 1942. This lists the personnel at the time of the surrender by name, rank, serial number, next of kin, their address, their date of departure from Changi, and if ovl = overland, or ovs = overseas. It will also show in pencil under the name, what Battery he was in. This will also help to narrow down the party he was in when he left Changi.

      I have yet to write to Firepower, so I cannot confirm what detail they do or do not have. I am going to write for details of my fathers Regiment, the peacetime digest of which should be with them, or after about 30 years, the PRO.

      Once our fathers became POWs, the Regiment as such ceased to exist, so you will not find your father's POW details at Firepower, this they have confirmed.

      I have a couple of questions for you:

        (a) Did your father send any POW postcards to your mother, and if so do they give a camp number. For camp number read work group, but again it would narrow the search.
        (b) Have you a copy of your father's Army Service Record and Pay book. If so it may have his POW medical record, and the camp in which it was signed after the Japanese surrendered.

      If you do not have this information, do not worry, there is nothing you can do about it. The Unit War Diary for the 9th Coast never made it out of Singapore, and would have been destroyed to prevent capture.

      So, try the Imperial War Museum, but hold on trying the PRO and Firepower until I can get you more details, or at least that is my advice. If you did try the PRO, WO172 lists the unit war diary records, but we need to find the UK peacetime records.

      Other files worth looking at, containing details of the destruction of the gun battery's are:
      WO172/176 - Fixed Defences - 1/40 to 2/42
      WO172/182 - 7th Coast Battery - 2/42
      WO172/189 - 9th Coast Regiment - 2/42
      I found these in my first visit, and will be going back to find more detail. I have copies of these files, and if it would save you a trip, let me have your address direct, and I will let you have a copy.

      I am also in touch with someone in Singapore, who is in the process of writing a book on Singapore, and the Coast Guns. On February 15th this year, they opened up the Mk.1 mounting gun tunnel of the Jahore Battery, and are turning the site in to an Historical and Educational site. Again, I can let you have details if you are interested.

      Javaborn - What a surprise, someone who mentioned Burma POW's. My father died in Burma in one of the camps. Would like to know more about any camps there. He helped built a bridge, that's all I know. My mother did not talk to much about the war. Any information be greately appreciated.

      Keith - Javaborn, Is it possible that you can supply a little more detail. From memory there were six steel bridges built over various rivers in Burma to carry the Railway. You say what a surprise to hear of a Burma POW, that may be because after the Railway was finished, and towards the end of the war the POWs were pulled back into Thailand for three reasons, 1) labour to be shipped to Japan, 2) to keep them out of reach of the allies advancing into Burma, and 3)the plan was to eliminate all POWs in all camps, wherever.
      Sorry if all that sounds bleak, but that was the plan. I agree, you do not read many books about POWs who worked on the Burma side of the railway, I am not even going to think about why. Any info may help.

      Javaborn - Here is a site my daughter has found. Very informative, but not enough about the Burma camps that I've been looking for.

      Ron - >Javaborn, it is good to see new names.
      We have had a lengthy discussion on the Death Railways before.

      The site you have quoted is on the Sumatra Railway, it is not the Thailand-Burma Railway.

      A collection of the discussions are in the Monthly Revue

      These articles are found at:

      Thailand-Burma Railway

      Sumatra Railway

      These are two different railways.
      I suggest you read the Sumatra pages first.

      It is best to start research at the Rising Sun layout:

      Mandy and Colin - Has anyone got the list of the dates that the pows left changi, It told you the dates they moved and the officer in charge when they left. One officer was mcfarlane who went with u group etc.

      Ron - >Mandy and Colin, For the 'U' Party (Southern Area) I have Lt-Col. S. Mackeller, F.M.S.V.R.

      They left overland to Thailand on 28/10/42

      If you look at the Death Railway pages at:

      Under Departure, it gives you them all for Thailand and Burma.

      If you want any of the other destinations let me know.

      Keith - >Mandy and Colin, I do not know if I have missed a message, so I apologise if I have.

      "U" party came from the Southern Area of Changi Camp, but I believe your Grandfather was with the 148 Field Regiment RA, which according to the order of battles I have, this was part of the 18th Division.

      Lt. Col. C.E.Mackellar, RA, 118 Field Regiment commanded "S" party, all from the 18th Division Area, which left on 30/10/42.

      My father was with the Coast Regiments, which came under Southern Area, and Changi was split into areas, and work groups I think were taken from POWs in their respective areas. Are you sure he left with "U" group. I seem to recall we exchanged messages on this before. If you have found new information since then, great.

      jimpryce - My uncle was in the 1st battalion Manchester Regiment and was captured in the fall of Singapore .He was one of the many POWs who died during the construction of the railway and is buried in the cemetery at Kanchaburi . I would like if possible to be in touch with any ex POW who knew of my Uncle he was private George Pryce and was from Colne in Lancashire any information would be appreciated I do have grave details

      peterbennett - my mothers first husband JACK COOPER 135 hertfordshire yeomanry field reg. R.A. Died in thailand 1943 and is buried in Chungkia.I am looking to find any records of camps that he was in and if kept, camp hospital records.I have his service records which only tell me that he was a prisoner of the japonese from 15.02.42-10.09.43. when he died of septicaemia.(not much for 25) I would be obliged if anyone can point me in the right direction.

      Nigel Peacock - What a pleasant surprise to see "Prisoner on the Kwai" mentioned here. Basil Peacock was my grandfather and spoke often about his time on the Kwai.

      Bryan Horton -

      "A" Battalion departure Havelock Rd October 9th 1942

      Does anyone have any details regarding "A" Battalion which left Havelock Rd, October 9th for Banbong. Then force marched to Tarso, and by barge to Kinsayok. Major Chidson, Capt John Barnard 2/6 East Surrey, Doctor Stone,East Surrey, Marines, RAOC and RASC. It has been said the march had 50% incapable of working on arrival at Kinsayok, and 148 died with afew months. My father was AQMS Eric Horton (RAOC). How can I find the roll? Help.Anyone know anyother information. SEE BOOK "ENDLESS YEARS' by Barnard

      Bryan Horton -

      Does anyone have any details regarding "A" Battalion which left Havelock Rd, October 9th 1942 for Banbong. Then force marched to Tarso, and by barge to Kinsayok. Major Chidson, Capt John Barnard 2/6 East Surrey, Doctor Stone,East Surrey, Marines, RAOC and RASC. It has been said the march had 50% incapable of working on arrival at Kinsayok, and 148 died with afew months. My father was AQMS Eric Horton (RAOC). How can I find the roll? Help,anyone. The above is described in the "Endless Years" by John Barnard.

      Jack Chalker who was in Havelock Rd at the same time as my father, leaving Havelock Rd on thursday 15th October 1942.

      Do you know Rod Beattie from Kanchanaburi? He knows so much about the Railway.

      We both went jungle bashing, along the railway embankment, south from Kinsyok. I do not think anyone had been there in over 50 years, totally overgrown with bamboo 20 metre high. We bush bashed for about 6 hours, but did not make it to the cutting. (not for the faint hearted)

      Rod did it another day, and struggled through to the section he has cleared near Hintok leading to Hell Fire pass.

      I will have to find and send you a couple of photos. Also spent time where the Hintok river camp sits on the cliffs above the river, as per sketch on page 246 "Into the Smother" by Ray Parkin.

      Peter Byrne - Ron, Re: Pack of Cards Bridge

      I note that there are a number of photos on your site of a railway bridge which is identified as the "Pack of Cards Bridge".

      I would like to point out that the photo does not depict the Pack of Cards bridge, as there are no photos in existence of that bridge.

      The Pack of Cards bridge was built as a temporary expediency while a large, permanent rock embankment was being built. When the embankment was completed, the bridge was left to rot and so did not exist post-war when the various bridges etc were photographed.

      The image being presented as the Pack of Cards bridge is actually the "3-Tier Bridge" which was located approx a half mile from the Pack of cards bridge site.

      Ron - >Peter

      The photo was sent to me by a fepow who said he worked on the bridge, but thanks for the comments.

      Some photo's were taken during captivity as did the Changi Photographer, but had a look through his book and he has none on the bridges.

      Clifford Kinvig has the photo as the "Pack of Cards Bridge at Hintock" in his book 'Death Railway'

      There is a problem, like place names, the pow's more then likely called a few bridges by that name as the way the were built and not aimed at one bridge in particular.

      From the emails I receive I have gathered that there is no black or white to events or names, but there is a grey area for some adjustment, lets face it, the events took place over sixty years ago the fepows did not have maps so they made their own names up for places and the stories from the fepows are what gives us the records of events as no official documents survived captivity.

      Take a look at:-

      It seems they had the same idea that Trestle Bridges were called Pack of Cards Bridges and not one in particular.

      They do also have some photo's of prisoners working on the bridges, these are not post war.

      Thanks once again for your email and I have made a note of the contents.

      Peter >Ron I didnt mean to appear critical. I am just trying to correct a broadly held misconception. I have just spent 14 months in Thailand researching the railway (my father was a POW who worked on the line) and I have stood on the site of both bridges and I can assure you that the photo is the three-tier bridge taken post-war. I have nearly a dozen books written by exPOWs and all carry the same photo captioned as the pack of cards. Probably a result of the publishers inserting some archive material for illustration. Even the Aust War Memorial now concedes this photo is the three tier bridge.Unfortunately I have discovered in many aspects of the railway, a very unreliable source of info is the exPOWs themselves. No matter how long a misconception is held, or by how many it is held - it is still wrong. For how many thousands of years did all the most brilliant minds on earth think the world was flat ?

      Ron >Peter. Not taken as being critical, maybe over precise.

      My father used to help me with the pages, when he did not find them too distressing, as like your dad he worked on the Thailand-Burma railway, when finished, he was transported back to Changi then shipped to French Indo China where he remained until Japan surrendered.

      Unfortunately time has taken its toll with the surviving Fepows, my father passed away three years ago, pages of history gone, but hopefully not forgotten.

      If you would like to read his story it is at:-

      The mental torture of those years never left my father, so I would not change a word of his story, it is as he saw it. The pow who slept next to him might have seen it completely different, but the Fepow Community site is about them and what they endured. To be honest I couldn't care less what the bridge is called now, it is through their labour and suffering it was built and this should be remembered as fact. I would however be interested in why they called a bridge, or bridges, Pack of Cards. I do however take humbrdge to the Fepows being quoted as "a very unreliable source of info is the exPOWs themselves", to them it was very real, although I do take your point that the memory fades with time but theirs was and is the only source of information available to the events that took place.

      The despatches I have been putting on the site are not put there as absolute fact, but for others to read the commanders point of view, how he saw the conflict, this of course would be very different to the view of the rank and file as the many stories sent to me show.

      The pages on the site have grown somewhat since I started them back in 1990, the pages are not stated as historical fact but in the eyes of the beholder it was true enough. This is why I find it hard to be critical, I want to know why my father's nightmares never left him. To the Fepows who write books, it was true enough, who are we to prove them wrong, they are the ones who have endured the torture of those years.

      Never dotting my 'i's has always been my outlook, leave them open and let the mind work.

      Thanks again for the email and your remarks have been respectively noted and I wish you every success with the book.


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