of entrance and the Bridge over the River Kwai
Courtesy & Copryright © Ron Squire 2006
Copryright © Barry Douglas 2001
is 129 kilometres West-North-West of Bangkok. Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
is situated in the North-Western part of the town along Saeng Chuto
Road. A Commission signpost faces the cemetery on the opposite side
of the road.
notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American
prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for
improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma.
During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died
and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000
civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced
labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted
in Siam (Thailand) and Burma (Myanmar). Two labour forces, one based
in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the
line towards the centre. The Japanese aimed at completing the railway
in 14 months and work began in October 1942. The line, 424 kilometres
long, was completed by December 1943. The graves of those who died
during the construction and maintenance of the Burma-Siam railway
(except for the Americans, whose remains were repatriated) were
transferred from camp burial grounds and isolated sites along the
railway into three cemeteries at Chungkai and Kanchanaburi in Thailand
and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar. Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is only a
short distance from the site of the former 'Kanburi', the prisoner
of war base camp through which most of the prisoners passed on their
way to other camps. It was created by the Army Graves Service who
transferred to it all graves along the southern section of railway,
from Bangkok to Nieke. Some 300 men who died during an epidemic
at Nieke camp were cremated and their ashes now lie in two graves
in the cemetery. The names of these men are inscribed on panels
in the shelter pavilion. There are now 5,084 Commonwealth casualties
of the Second World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery.
There are also 1,896 Dutch war graves. Within the entrance building
to the cemetery will be found the Kanchanaburi Memorial, recording
the names of 11 men of the army of undivided India buried in Muslim
cemeteries in Thailand, where their graves could not be maintained.
The cemetery was designed by Colin St Clair Oakes.
War Graves Commission]