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THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI - THA MAKHAM      

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A duplicate of the plaque at the south side of The Bridge on the River Kwai was donated to The Imperial War Museum in 1993. The plaque is on exhibition at the Duxford Branch of the I.W.M. and was unveiled by Mr. Harold Payne CBE, who was a British P.O.W officer and helped construct the original bridge plus also had major input to the plaque as president of the Far Eastern P.O.W. Assoc. UK.

The railway was one of the great engineering feats of the Second World War. Asian labourers and Prisoners of War (P.O.W.) moved 7 million cubic metres of earth and rock in constructing the 415 kilometre railway; 14 kilometres of which were 8 steel and 640 timber bridges.

This famous steel bridge was built between October 1941 and May 1942, using eleven 21 metre prefabricated spans plundered by the Japanese from Dutch Java. At the same time a wooden trestle bridge was built 300 metres downstream; it was immortalized in the book and film "The Bridge on the River Kwai".

From February 1945 Allied aircraft raids repeatedly damaged the bridges. P.O.W. from a large camp 400 metres downstream repaired them; even so by June 1945 the bridges were impassable.

The steel bridge was repaired post-war with two 32 metre box-shaped spans, provided as War Reparation by the Japanese.

Still in daily use the bridge stands as a memorial to the pain and suffering of so many.

 



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