The construction of the railway between Thailand and Burma in the Second World War using forced labour and prisoners of war has been the subject of numerous memoirs, novels and the famous Hollywood film The Bridge over the River Kwai. Yet documentation and primary sources offering an account of the railway from a Japanese, Allied, POW and post-war perspective are scarce. This six-volume collection uses documents from archives in Australia, Great Britain, India, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the United States, Myanmar, Thailand and Japan to present a complete picture of the reality of the 'death' railway.
Volume One: The Construction of the RailwayThe first volume details the construction of the railway, and includes technical information. Construction started in 1942. Once completed it would enable the Japanese to send troops and supplies into Burma by land rather than sea, an important consideration because the sea lanes were vulnerable both to air raids and to submarine attacks. As the war began to go against Japan, the project became a matter of considerable urgency and construction moved very quickly.This volume also contains documents relating to the Allied bombing of the railway line, and reveals how the Japanese managed to keep it in operation through repeated emergency repairs.Volume Two: POW Labourers on the RailwayThe Thailand-Burma Railway was built with forced labour, using prisoners of war captured in Malaya, the Indies and Burma. These workers were treated harshly and subjected to abominable working conditions, with inadequate food and little protection against malaria and waterborne ailments. With scant medical care and brutal treatment, tens of thousands of labourers died in the construction of the railway. This volume contains first-hand accounts of life under these conditions, and reprints diary extracts and memoirs of the prisoners working to construct the railway.Volume Three: Asian Labourers on the RailwayThe Japanese recruited coolies in Thailand, Burma, Malaya and Java to assist in the construction of the railway in 1943-1945. These labourers suffered the same maltreatment as their POW colleagues, and volume three reprints their accounts of life on the railway.Volume Four: Japanese Perspectives on the RailwayVolume four provides primary sources on the railway written from a Japanese perspective. They show the importance of the line to the Japanese war effort, and the vital role it played in transporting medical supplies, food and water to camps along its length.Volume Five: War Crime TrialsBecause of the brutal treatment of the labourers and prisoners of war working on the railway, in the post-war period many of the Japanese generals were tried for war crimes. This volume not only reprints some of the official documentation and testimonies of the trials, but also how they were reported in the contemporary press.Volume Six: Post-war Reflections on the RailwayThe final volume contains newspaper accounts of the railway, the efforts of survivors to obtain compensation, the documentation of the railway in official histories and how the railway has been discussed by academics.
Series: Routledgecurzon Library of Modern South-East Asia
Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 2176
Published: 20th October 2005
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.9
Weight (kg): 3.99
Edition Number: 1