Thailand
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2/20th Battalion

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BurmaRailPD.gif (36409 bytes)

Map of

Burma - Thailand

showing

Railway and P.O.W. Camps

TRAIN TO BANPONG, THAILAND

We boarded a train at Singapore. It consisted of steel box-cars with 30 men to each car. There was one truck of Japanese guards.

The train left late in the day. We were all interested to see the blown causeway and Johore Bahru, after years in Jap hands. However, with only two doors in the centre of each truck not all could get a look at the scenery and the area we had fought through.

Darkness soon arrived. There was no stop until Kuala Lumpa late at night. This was a huge station but we were only allowed to top-up water bottles, wash and use the toilets. There were no such facilities on the train.

We spent four days and five nights on the train before arriving at Banpong, Thailand - the junction of the Singapore and Bangkok line and the Burma Railway.

 

CONDITIONS ON TRAIN

In the steel cars we cooked during the day with a tropical sun making steel too hot to touch. At night it was like an ice-chest. We took turns sitting in the doorways, being the only way to get a gulp of fresh air.

We were lucky to get two so-called meals a day, rarely anything but boiled rice in tubs. Once or twice on trip were we allowed to buy fruit, if I remember rightly, pawpaw or bananas, from local native hawkers.

 

HAZARDS

One day, well up into Thailand, I was sitting in the doorway, getting my share of fresh air, with my legs dangling outside, and, after days of inactivity, swinging them. The track was quite clear and there was no apparent danger, when suddenly my swinging left foot hit edge of steel culvert. It was a sudden shock and pretty painful blow, but it could have been worse. I was certainly alert for danger in future.

[I had a similar experience 2I/2 years later, at the end of the war when the Japs were taking us back to Bangkok from Chumphon on the Kra Isthmus, along the same line. 300 Aussies were on the train. We had told the Japs to get lost. We were all riding on the roofs of the trucks during the heat of the day when I suddenly glanced ahead to notice a steel bridge coming up fast, allowing little clearance on top. I yelled a warning for everyone to get down flat. Anyone sitting or standing up would have been wiped off.]

 

MARCHED TO KANBURI

We left the train here and then began a march, carrying all our belongings, including cooking gear.

It was not so bad.

We came to Kanburi and were shown an area where we could camp. There were no tents or other shelter.

Fortunately the weather was hot, fine and dry.

There were plenty of Thai native traders about, eager to do business. There were plenty of duck eggs, bananas, sweet potatoes, etc.

We rapidly made up for hungry rail journey and remained here for almost a week. Apparently, the Japanese engineers hadn't arrived to take charge of us and so we had a pretty free hand to do as we liked for those few days. We certainly enjoyed the rest.

 

Copyright 2002, Elliott McMaster, "Glen Ora", Nabiac, New South Wales, Australia, 2428.  Original content in these Web pages is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be produced by any process or any other exclusive right exercised without written permission from the copyright holder.

This Web was prepared by the Great Lakes Historical Society Ltd, C/- Great Lakes Museum,  Capel Street, (P.O. Box 23), Tuncurry, New South Wales, Australia, 2428.