The Kwai That Never Was

Summer 1998, volume 10 #4. Military History Quarterly.

The article notes that the movie was very much fiction. A bridge was taken apart and moved by elephants up to the Kwai site.The bridges that were built was done over swamps and jungles. The Japanese used POWs to do the work along with natives. 80 POWs were considered to be as powerful as one elephant in their calculations.

The railway was about 300 miles long. 12,568 POWs died, and 7 times as many native laborers. There were 200 mass graves. Many of the deaths were caused by various diseases such as dysentay and beriberi. The man who wrote the script for the movie ended up being blacklisted.

When the bridge was done the workers were shipped elsewhere.

Main Index
Japan main page
Japanese-American Internment Camps index page
Japan and World War II index page