Category: Railway

How A Railway Was Built With Blood And Death

When you visit พิพิธภัณฑ์ช่องเขาขาด, you can barely imagine how a railroad was built without the modern equipment that construction workers use today. The very nature of war means death and tragedies. In that iconic stretch of the Thailand-Burma Railway, 16,000 prisoners of war sacrificed their lives. Most of them were Australians, British and Dutch including local labourers who were required to work under the harshest conditions.

The Hellfire museum tells a story about the sacrifices that men and women make when there is a war. The free audio guide provided to visitors explains the harrowing experiences of survivors. There are interviews and detailed commentaries regarding specific issues like diseases, meagre food and the nicknames given to the Japanese soldiers.

During the World War II, the Japanese were fighting Burma and they needed an option to send supplies to their troops which is better than by sea. A railway has to be built fast so that ammunitions, food and other goods can be sent by land. Tens of thousands of prisoners of war and Asian labourers were required for the task.

The obstruction to the railway project was a solid rock which the labourers and POWs had to cut. Aside from the brutality of the Japanese guards, the POWs and labourerswere struck with different illnesses. Work had to be speeded up but harsh treatment proved to be fatal for the men. Even when sick, the guards would still demand them to work.

Australians visit the museum every year because they know that the ashes of their countrymen are just a few kilometres away. The brave soldiers have sacrificed their lives in order for people to enjoy freedom from bondage. Visiting the museum is indeed worthwhile because it has managed to set the scene perfectly with informative and interesting displays.

The Australian Department of Veteran Affairs and the Royal Thai Government have jointly worked to create พิพิธภัณฑ์ช่องเขาขาดas a memorial to the men and women who have suffered and died in the construction of Thailand-Burma railway. Aside from the museum, there are also scenic spots and a path that brings you to the hills.

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