Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Bridge On The River Kwai

The Bride over the River Kwai Thailand
Bridge On The River Kwai-Thailand
The Movie made in 1957 by the British is a World WarII movie which won 7 Oscars in 1958 plus 3 more from BAFTA plus another 3 more from Golden Globe and last but not least Grammy's Award for Best Sound Track Album.In addition the film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. The movie is based on the building of a bridge in Thailand over  the River Kwai(actually spelt and called Khwae-Yai) by the Japanese using captured British and American Prisoners of War.The Movie was the biggest revenue earner in 1958 grossing US$18  million whereas the number 2 grossed only US$12 Million.The movie was based on a fictional story and the film was shot in Ceylon, now called Si Lanka.With lead role being played by William Holden The Bridge On The River Kwai has immortalised the  place ,making it a top destination among places to travel in Thailand along with other surrounding tourist places.

The Bridge on The River Kwai.
The Japanese had a large army in Burma and to support it with better communications and logistics The  Burma Thailand Railway was conceived and construction started in 1943 using POWs captured during the fall of Singapore. It was one of the most extraordinary engineering achievements of World War II.With unbelievably primitive tools for such a project and a total disregard for human life and suffering, the Japanese built a railway 415 km long through one of most rugged and pestilence-ridden areas of the world in the incredibly short span of 12 months. The cost was a life for every sleeper laid over its most difficult sections. Dead were 13,000 British, Australian, American and Dutch prisoners of war and an estimated 70,000 Asian civilian laborers.While the Japanese were pushing hard and aggressively for faster completion of the bridge the Allied Air Force was equally determined to damage the railway and destroy the bridge.
Unexploded Bomb from the Allied Air Attacks on the Bridge Over The River Kwai
Unexploded Bomb from the Unending Air Raids.
2 Bridges were built one wooden and the other steel. Both were bombed by the USAF and the RAF, damaged and again repaired. The bridge was known as Bridge 277 and being a vital link was subjected to maximum bombing. On 28th November 1944 the Japanese were aware of the impending raid because of the earlier observation of Allied spotter planes, and forced all the POW's in the bridge camp to stand on the bridge and wave at the Allied planes in an attempt to prevent a bombing raid. Two of the curved sections of the bridge in the middle of the river were totally destroyed in the raid and later replaced with squared metal sections. Many POW's lost their lives in the raid casualties of the failed Japanese human shield tactic
Unexploded 10,000 lbs Bomb from Allied Air Attack on The Bridge Over The River Kwai
The 10,000 lbs Bombs -Unexploded Remains of the Air Attack
The two bridges were successfully bombed on 13 February 1945 by the Royal Air Force. Repairs were carried out by POW labour and by April the wooden bridge on the River Kwai  was back in operation. On 3 April a second raid by Liberator bombers of the U.S. Army Air Forces damaged the wooden bridge once again. Repair work continued and both bridges were operational again by the end of May. A second raid by the R.A.F. on 24 June put the railway out of commission for the rest of the war.In any case Hiroshima was hit by the Little Boy Atom Bomb on 6th August and the steam went out of the Japanese war machinery.After the Japanese surrender, the British Army removed 3.9 kilometers of track on the Thai-Burma border. A survey of the track had shown that its poor construction would not support commercial traffic. The track was sold to Thai Railways and the 130 km Ban Pong–Namtok section relaid and is in use today. A ride can be enjoyed on the train which passes over the Bridge on the River Kwai.

Japanese Track Inspection Trolley used on The Bridge Over The River Kwai
Original Japanese Track Inspection Trolley at the Bridge
Several museums are dedicated to those who perished building the railway.Approximately 13000 Allied POWs dies during the construction of the railway and there are 3 main cemeteries where the remains were collected and buried.


Axis Leaders Hitler and Mussolini in museum at Bridge On The River Kwai
Statues of the Axis Leaders of WWII .


Japanese WWII Trains used to transport ammunition to Burma at museum near Bridge on the river Kwai
Trains  To Transport Ammunition by The Japs to Burma
World War II trains at museum near Bridge on the River Kwai
World War II Trains in the Museum at The Bridge

1 comment:

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