Tamarkan Camp And River Kwai
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2/20th Battalion

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TO TAMARKAN CAMP

After the line had been running for a couple of months we were railed back down to Tamarkan, on the southern side of the River Kwai and the site of the actual "Bridge on the River Kwai".

 

BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI

The first bridge here was a timber pile job built only to carry line until a permanent steel and concrete bridge was erected. This comprised steel brought from Java, where they dismantled the existing bridge to speedily provide material for the Tamarkan Bridge.

The supply line to Burma was vital to the Japanese offensive there, and their hope of continuing on with their conquests there and then on into India. Really a dream of the Axis powers!

[Click here to read history of the Bridge on the River Kwai]

 

ALLIES' BOMBS HIT CAMP

At Tamarkan, we were lodged in a large-hutted camp, adjacent to the bridge approach.

The bridge was defended by ack-ack (anti aircraft) guns on surrounding and adjacent hills.

The camp was too close to the bridge for comfort, especially when Allies put on bombs, determined to blast bridge. Some bombs, dropped a bit late, had dropped into camp and caused quite a few casualties.

One of the first jobs I can remember there, was sitting out on the timber bridge all night with the river in flood. Our job was to fend off flood debris of logs, bamboo, etc., to prevent it building up and causing a log jamb. We were apparently quite expendable.

I also remember one day lying in a hut on a rare "yasmé" (rest) day. Suddenly, there was a hideous scrambling noise and I was wondering what was going on, when I realised the huts were empty and I was alone. I wandered out to see what was the cause of the commotion to find the older camp inhabitants had become completely bomb-happy after earlier fatal bomb drops. They had vamoosed first, then pulled up to find out what it was all about.

Fortunately, this time a false alarm. The planes were going on elsewhere.

 

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