River Kwai

Title: Explore Thailand 2017
Story: River Kwai
Presenter: Trevor Cochrane

The journey continues as the team head to Kanchanaburi, about a 2-hour drive from Bangkok. This town is home to what is undoubtedly the most infamous part of the railway.

  • When we talk of ANZAC's we usually talk of Europe and WWI but it was here in 1943 that one of Australia's most important chapters of war occurred. It's a chapter that much like Gallipoli has been turned into a famous movie.
  • This is the Bridge over the River Kwai and this railway is the notorious Death Railway, basically linking Thailand and Burma. Back in WWII the Japanese recognised once they occupied Thailand they had to keep the supply route open if they wanted to control South East Asia.
  • Around 180,000 men including 60,000 POW's worked on the railway in truly oppressive difficult conditions. Over 12,000-allied POW's died during the construction of this railway, a third of whom were Australians. As a result this stretch of Thailand claimed about 20% of Australian casualties during WWII.
  • Originally there were 2 bridges built here. The first a wooden one finished in February 1943 and after in June 1943 a concrete and steel bridge went in.
  • The War was getting to a pretty desperate point. Both the allies and the Japanese needed to make a breakthrough and this bridge represented the opportunity. On the 24th of June the RAF bombed the bridge, breaking the supply route and this pretty much broke to back of the Japanese Army. Not long after on the 15th August the Japanese surrendered, bringing an end to WWII.
  • The train still rolls through here today all these years after, taking people in and out of Bangkok and this just stands testament to the incredible engineering work that those British and Australian POW's performed all those years back.

For more information about this story or any other stories featured in this episode of Guru TV, visit Tourism Authority of Thailand, at www.au.tourismthailand.org.

The Explore TV flew to Thailand on Thai Airways. For more information about flights, visit Thai Airways, at www.thaiairways.com


Chung Kai War Cemetery
Just outside of Kanchanaburi you’ll find Chung Kai. Now this is a really special place, a significant part of World War II. Today it’s a peaceful cemetery and a really beautiful place to come and learn about War history. read more

Kanchanaburi War Museum
The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is the main POW cemetery for those that lost their lives constructing the Thai Burma Railway. Today we take a visit. read more

River Kwai
The journey continues as the team head to Kanchanaburi, about a 2-hour drive from Bangkok. This town is home to what is undoubtedly the most infamous part of the railway. read more

Sir Edward Dunlop
The journey continues another museum, this one dedicated to Sir Edward Weary Dunlop. Colonel Dunlop was an Australian surgeon who was renowned for his leadership whilst being held prisoner by the Japanese during WWII. read more

Tham Krasae Station
Kanchanaburi is an important place for all Australian's to visit. It’s a place where Australian and allied prisoners of War made enormous sacrifices and underwent unfathomable suffering to build a railway that should never have been possible to build. read more

Hellfire Pass pt 1
Today the crew are headed south along the Thai Burma Railway to the first stop on the journey, Hellfire Pass. Here the prisoners of War were made to cut their way through the hillside and jungle, an extremely dangerous and difficult task, as they had to do it all by hand. read more

Hellfire Pass pt 2
To finish our journey in Thailand the crew head back to Hellfire Pass for a very special dawn service. The ANZAC Day service at Hellfire Pass is considered to be one of the most important and memorable for Australians in the World today. read more