• Short Summary

    Nearly 200 members of the Japanese Association in Thailand made a pilgrimage on Sunday (March 19) to a cemetery near the Bridge of the River Kwai - part of the "Burma Railway" built by British, Australian and Dutch prisoners-of-war between 1942 and 1944.

  • Description

    Nearly 200 members of the Japanese Association in Thailand made a pilgrimage on Sunday (March 19) to a cemetery near the Bridge of the River Kwai - part of the "Burma Railway" built by British, Australian and Dutch prisoners-of-war between 1942 and 1944.

    The pilgrims included the Japanese Ambassador to Thailand, Mr. Hugisaki, and a former army corporal who was on the staff at the prisoner-of-war camp near the bridge. The ambassador later led prayers at a special memorial service after visiting the Kanchnaburi cemetery, where many of the 16,000 prisoners-of-war who died building the railway are buried.

    Although the famous film "The Bridge on the River Kwai" was popularly accepted as being historically accurate, some people disagree, saying that "Kwai" simply means any branch of any river -- in this case, the River Meklong, and that the River Kwai of the film does not actually exist.

    Another fact established by the film was that the bridge was blown up by the prisoners who built it. In fact, two bridges were built. The first -- a temporary, wooden one -- was built, entirely by hand. The other, known as the Tamakam bridge (shown in this film) a girder built on concrete pillars. Work began on this bridge in October, 1942, as the Japanese planned their strategic drive towards India. It was finished in mid-1944, but put out of action by the Royal Air Force in early 1945. Prisoners-of-war carried the materials used in construction manually to the site.

    Although three trains a day still use a 70-mile section of the Burma Railway, the original wooden bridge has disappeared -- eaten and washed away by termites and monsoon rains.

    SYNOPSIS: There are many conflicting versions about the "Bridge on the River Kwai" -- part of the railway line across Burma built by Japanese engineers during World War two using forced prisoner-of-war labour. But despite controversy over details, the basic facts are known
    It was here that sixteen-thousand British, Australian and Dutch prisoners of-war died during the Second World War building the Burma Railway with their bare hands -- a supply line for Japanese troops pushing towards India.

    Today, it's just a tourist attraction. But this week, nearly two-hundred members of the Japanese Association in Thailand made a pilgrimage.

    Buddhist monks from a local monastery conducted a special service in memory of the dead. The prisoners-of-war were brought from Singapore to Southern Thailand in nineteen-forty-two to build the railway. Then they built a tamperer wooden bridge which has since bee eaten and washed away by termites and monsoon rains.

    A wreath from the Thai-Japanese Associate Among the pilgrims was the Japanese Ambassador to Thailand who led prayers at the service. The ambassador later called on the people of Japan never to forget the horror and sacrifices of the war. Japan, he said, must continue to strive for peace throughout the world.

    A Japanese monk -- and a former army corporal who served in a prison camp nearby -- flew to Thailand especially for the service. After they'd built the wooden bridge, the prisoners hauled the materials needed for a concrete girder bridge to another site a few hundred yards away. This was the Tamakam bridge now shown to the tourists. It was completed in nineteen-forty-four, but put out of action by the Royal Air Force a few months later.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVA21IZL6IBE3EQSCTU3ZQ6ZPP0I
    Media URN:
    VLVA21IZL6IBE3EQSCTU3ZQ6ZPP0I
    Group:
    Reuters - Including Visnews
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    22/03/1972
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Colour
    Duration:
    00:02:06:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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