Hellfire Pass is a 500 meters long and 26 meters deep section of rock that was dug out by Prisoners of War intended to allow the 'Death Railway' to continue its route from Bangkok to Rangoon. Soldiers were forced to remove the rock using no more than picks, hammers and their bare hands. Of the 1,000 Australian and British soldiers who took 12 weeks to clear the stretch of mountain, 700 died.
The Hellfire Pass Memorial and Memorial Museum were set up to commemorate these fallen. The memorial comprises a trail where visitors follow the old railway track into the jungle and a museum. The museum contains pictures and tools alongside video exhibitions and showing of documentaries about the events. Like elsewhere on this trail, the memorial and museum are extremely moving places. If you are connected to the events through relations who were imprisoned here, or any other fashion, the experience can be quite wrenching.
This site is of particular importance to Australians. The Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce supports the museum. Four hundred Australian prisoners began work at Hellfire Pass on Anzac Day in 1943 and the site plays and important part in annual Anzac events in Thailand.
Details: The museum is open daily 9.00 a.m. - 04.00 p.m. and there is no admission fee (although donations are suggested).
Tel: +66 3453 1347, +66 8 1754 2098, +66 8 1814 7564
How to get there: There are of course a number of organized tours to the memorial and museum available from Kanchanaburi. For those who want to get there independently, the museum is located on land owned by the Royal Thai Army. To get there a bus going from Kanchanaburi to Thong Pha Phum will pass the site.