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"Death Railway" - Building of the Thai–burma Railway

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The Thai–Burma railway which also called the Death Railway. The Thailand-Burma Railway and the Burma-Siam Railway and the similar names, was a 415-kilometre railway connecting Ban Pong, Thanbyuzayat and Thailand, Burma, create by the Empire of Japan in 1943 to sustain its influence in the Burma campaign to World War II. Its function was to provide Japanese forces in Burma, as a detour thru the sea routes which had become susceptible when Japanese naval strength was reduced in the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway in May and June 1942. Once the railway was finished the Japanese deliberated to attack the British in India and in particular the road and airfields used by the Allies to supply China over the Himalayan Mountains.

Aspiring to finish the railway speedily, the Japanese decided to use more than 60 000 Allied prisoners who had fallen into their hands in early 1942. It includes troops of the British Empire, Dutch and colonial personnel from the Netherlands East Indies and a small number of US troops sunk on the USS Houston during the Battle of Java Sea. About 13 000 of the prisoners who worked on the railway were Australian. When this workforce proved incapable of meeting the tight deadlines the Japanese had set for completing the railway, a further 200 000 Asian labourers or romusha (the precise number is not known) were enticed or coerced into working for the Japanese.

The 415-kilometre railway ran from Thanbyuzayat in Burma (now Myanmar) to Non Pladuk in Thailand. It was constructed by units working along its entire length rather than just from each end. This meant that the already difficult problems of supply became impossible during the monsoonal season of mid-1943. Starved of food and medicines, and forced to work impossibly long hours in remote unhealthy locations, over 12 000 POWs, including more than 2 700 Australians died. The number of romusha dead is not known but it was probably up to 90 000.About 90 000 inhabitant manual worker and more than 12 000 associated prisoners died. Between 180 000 and 250 000 Southeast Asian inhabitant manual worker and about 61 000 associated prisoners of war were subjected to forced labour during its construction. The first detainees of war were about 3 000 Australians were sent to Burma and left Changi prison at Singapore on 14 May 1942 and voyaged by sea to near Thanbyuzayat, the northern station of the railway. They worked on airfields and other infrastructure initially before beginning construction of the railway in October 1942. About 3 000 British soldiers left Changi by train in June 1942 to Ban Pong, the southern terminus of the railway and worked in Thailand.

More detainees of war were brought from Singapore and the Dutch East Indies as construction advanced. Construction camps housing at least 1 000 workers each were established every five to 10 miles (8 to 17 km) of the route. Laborers were moved up and down the railway line as desirable. – The construction camps consisted of open-sided barracks built of bamboo poles with thatched roofs. The barracks were about sixty metres (66 yard) long with sleeping platforms raised above the ground on each side of an earthen floor. Two hundred men were housed in each barracks, giving each man a two-foot wide space in which to live and sleep. Camps were usually named after the kilometer where they were located.

In conclusion I say that in Over there are 12 000 Japanese and 800 Korean armed forces worked on the Thai–Burma railway as engineers or guards. They were some of over five million soldiers who served with the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Every Japanese commander was under pressure from above and the Japanese culture of unquestioning obedience transferred this stress down the command chain.

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“Death Railway” – Building of the Thai–burma Railway. (2019, January 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 11, 2021, from
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