Kanchanaburi – Thanbyuzayat

In a previous post, ‘I wonder what happened to them all’, I mentioned the action of the 2/30th Battalion at Gemas, Malaya 1942 – and the fate of those sent to work on the Thai-Burma Railway in F Force.

Some 161 2/30th Battalion men are buried at Thanbyuzayat in Burma, and 100 are buried at Kanchanaburi in Thailand. (There are 125 more at Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore, including 82 on the Singapore Memorial within the cemetery, who were mostly died in the fighting in Malaya or Singapore.)

Unknown Australian - Thanbyuzayat

Unknown Australian – Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery,Burma

The 2/30th  Battalion and 2/10th Field Ambulance men were among the 22,376 Australians made prisoners of war by the Japanese – of whom 8,031 died while in captivity. Some 9,500 Australian prisoners of war worked on the construction of the Thai-Burma Railway and 2,646 of them died of illness, disease, starvation, overwork and savage punishment — including 1,438 men of F Force in Thailand and 479 men of A Force in Burma.

In 1997, I travelled by train from Singapore to Kanchanaburi, and then to Burma for my book Not Going to Vietnam (Sceptre 1999) tracing as much as I could of both ends of the railway, and came across men of the 2/30th Battalion and 2/10th Field Ambulance while looking at the cemeteries and memorials.

Back then the Australian Hellfire Pass museum and walking track was being constructed.  Rod Beattie, who I met for the first time in Kanchanaburi, was managing the project. Rod had cleared several kilometres of the track around Hellfire Pass himself, and came to know more about the railway than anyone else.

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Since then Rod has established the Thailand Burma Railway Centre http://www.tbrconline.com/  the most accessible, accurate and authoritative museum in Kanchanaburi, opposite the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. Rod  manages tis and the nearby Chungkai War Cemetery on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  He has assisted many veterans and families in finding their stories, and has been a big help to me.

Sunset Kan'buri cemetery Rod 2008

Sunset, Kanchanaburi Cemetery (Photo: Rod Beattie 2008)

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