Free Hand Drawing of Map: Burma – Thailand Railway Camps

Burma Railway map

The Thai Burma Railway Freehand Map

‘In December 1941 the Pacific War began with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, and the invasion of Malaya. By mid-1942 Japanese forces were fighting the British in Burma, their ultimate aim being an offensive against India. To maintain their armies in Burma the Japanese needed a more secure supply route than the vulnerable sea-lanes between Singapore and Rangoon. They decided to construct a railway, 415 km long, through the jungle and mountains from Ban Pong in Thailand to Thanbyuzayat in Burma.

To build the railway the Japanese assembled a multinational workforce of approximately 250,000 Asian labourers and over 60,000 Australian, British, Dutch and American Prisoners of War. Work on the line began in southern Burma in October 1942.

Little modern equipment was made available for railway work. Earth and rock were broken by shovels, picks and chunkels (hoes), and carried away in baskets or sacks.  Cuttings were driven through rock by hand; metal taps and sledgehammers being used to drill holes for explosives. Most of the bridges along the railway were timber trestle bridges made from timber cut in the surrounding jungle.

From April 1943, the work pace increased greatly as the Japanese strove to meet a proposed August deadline for completion. This was the notorious ‘speedo’ period. POWs and Asian labourers worked punishing hours well into the night. The ‘speedo’, coinciding with the wet season and outbreaks of cholera, claimed thousands of lives. In all, 12,399 (20%) of the Allied POWs and between 70,000 and 90,000 civilian labourers are believed to have died due to lack of proper food, inadequate medical facilities, and the brutal treatment from guards and railway supervisors.’

Sources: http/

“Thus, midst a welter of contradictory reports, bribery, corruption, faked sickness and genuine attempts to transfer hospital cases to better conditions, the first party – known as F Force – left Changi. It left with a large proportion of men who came direct from their beds in hospital, plus the piano, plus all sorts of paraphernalia suitable for a convalescent camp under a civilised foe.” (This was the first working party to go up country to build the Thai Burma Railway!!) ‘A short time later a second party was conscripted, H Force.”
Source: The Naked Island by Russell Braddon; 1955 edition Pan Books Ltd, Pg184

 ‘When we were reunited with F Force, there was no doubt that we at Changi had been to some degree deprived of necessary nourishment and it showed in our appearance, but the appearance of the survivors from F Force was such that we were absolutely shocked. They all looked like walking cadavers and gave the appearance of skeletons over which a yellowish – green skin, translucent and almost glowing, had been stretched. And these were the healthiest of the survivors. They were in good spirits at having arrived back to the comparative luxury of Changi, and told amazing stories of death and survival in the various camps along the railway.
Huge numbers had succumbed to tropical ulcers, meningitis, dysentery, dengue, malaria, fatal accidents and plain starvation. One of the major killers was cholera, and they told stories of comparatively healthy men contracting the disease and dying within twenty four hours before they eyes of their comrades. In some camps, fires were kept going twenty fours hours a day so that those who died from cholera could be burnt immediately in order to help prevent the spread of the disease.’
Source: You’ll Never Get Off The Island by Keith Wilson; 1989, Pg 89