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June 2020

Thai Burma Railway

(Page 3 of 5)

Sai Yok
Very popular among Thais on weekends for a place to visit and relax and enjoy the surrounds.

The beautiful Sai Yok Waterfall.

An example of a period locomotive at Sai Yok.

Some examples of period locomotivess (up the back). Some examples of needle trees. Be careful in the ponds, they are slippery.

Hellfire Pass (HP)
Began on ANZAC Day (25th April) 1943 ironically. Has been reported as one of the most demanding part of the Death Railway, with the largest loss of life between Konyu and Hintok, the guards here very brutal, as the ‘Speedo’ was being administered.

Hellfire Pass Museum

Took 3 months to cut through, utilising mainly hammer and tap method.

Hammer and tap was conducted by 2 men, one holding the ‘chisel’ and the other banging down on a 7 pound sledge hammer type implement – see evidence at Hellfire Pass of this, with broken drill bits still embedded in the rock face. A dangerous job, as any slips could prove fatal – knicks, cuts etc could become infectious leading to tropical ulcers, gangrene, blood poisoning, death etc. The only mechanical aids available being some Jack Hammers for drilling. Most of the drilling was performed by the "hammer and tap" method, with teams of two men operating alternatively the hammer and the steel drill. Each team had to drill at least a metre and a half or two metres per man per day. At the end of the day, all holes were plugged with gelignite, detonators and fuses. Cigarette smokers would then volunteer to light the fuses, for the sake of getting cigarettes from the guards. Each would have to light about ten or a dozen fuses and it was too bad if one didn't light or if you delayed in lighting. There was a high risk of being blown up and it was a fair run to safety after the final fuse was lit. During the Speedo (which started around late April as the Japanese wanted to finish the line by August) all the lads were not allowed to move prior to the fuses being lit – getting every last ounce of labour out of them; when lit the boys were allowed to move – scampering over previously split rock was said like walking/running over knives, as the broken rock in bare feet could have edges sharp as knives.

The infamous Hellfire Pass

69 murders from bashings etc took place here. Approximately 700 men died as a result of working in Hellfire Pass.

Hellfire Pass

A 24 hour operation took place at HP. Men could work 14 hours, knock off at midnight, get back to camp at Hintok at 2AM, and up and at it again at 0500 hours. Men could go for days without sleep. Men would be constantly bashed and harassed.

Tributes and wreaths at Hellfire Pass

Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop was a great medical doctor at Hintok Camp who was instrumental in saving lives, developing ingenious medical techniques to save lives, incl saline drips to flush men of the deadly Cholera – he saved approx 65% of men with this technique. He would stand in front of men and get bashed instead of them. He performed many operations including amputations. The first operation he performed was a rudimentary appendicitis – one in which the medical personnel strived to ensure the patient survived (they scrounged extra rations to ensure he did – to heighten morale and to ‘stick it up the enemy) – the patient survived. The infamous Speedo period began here at Hellfire Pass. It was monsoon, wet and heavy underfoot, men suffered not only from starvation, but trench foot and foot infections from constant wet feet; the Japanese and Koreans were at their worst along the line.

Weary Dunlop Park at the hotel named Home PHu Toey on Highway 323, 20 km south of Hellfire

The massive Hellfire Pass

Herb McMillan (from Tuncurry, New South Wales) telling another POW in a story I came across that he had the job of drilling to remove protruding rock from high up on side of a cutting. A Japanese engineer supervising his work, became very abusive (for some now forgotten reason) and began to belt Herb over the head with an iron bar. Herb, being 50 - 60 feet above track level, could only wrap his arms around the embedded drill, hang on, and try to avoid some of the blows. It was a most uncomfortable and shocking episode he stated. However, it was typical of incidents that were repeated a thousand times in that correctly named Hellfire Pass.

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