In 1942-43 a force of possibly 200,000 to 300,000 people, working under the supervision of the Imperial Japanese Army, constructed a railway from Kanchanaburi in western Thailand to Thanbyuzayat on the Andaman Sea coast of Burma (now Myanmar). The purpose of this railway was to provide a supply link between the Gulf of Thailand and Burma, which the Japanese had occupied in early 1942. The sea route via the Straits of Malacca had become unreliable after the Battle of Midway in June 1942 and a new, more secure, overland route was needed to maintain the Japanese armies in Burma as they planned to invade India. The Thai-Burma railway was completed in a little over a year, a remark able achievement given that it stretched some 415 kilometres over remote and rugged mountains on the Thai-Burmese border, in a region which became disease infested and inaccessible during the monsoon season. However, the loss of life was enormous. Possibly 100,000 Asian labourers (rõmusha) and around 12,000 Allied prisoners died during the railway’s construction, from a mix of malnutrition, disease and overwork.
|Title of host publication
|The Pacific War: Aftermaths, remembrance and culture
|Christina Twomey and Ernest Koh
|Place of Publication
|2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN
|Published - 2015