Talk:Burma Railway

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Standard gauge?[edit]

Whence the assertion about the line being regauged? Last I checked SRT operates only narrow-gauge lines. Jpatokal 16:25, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

Gauge 1000 mm[edit]

The line was built to standard Siamese and Burmese gauge 1000 mm ( metre ) connecting these two Railway networks. The seremonial opening day is also given as 15.10.1943. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:26, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Guilty of war crimes[edit]

"The construction of the Death Railway was only one of many major war crimes committed by Japan during the course of its wars in Asia" Was anyone tried for crimes they committed during the building of this railway? If so who and what was the war cime they had committed? Please also add details to the Axis war crimes page --Philip Baird Shearer 01:34, 11 April 2006 (UTC)


Should this page be moved to "Burma Railway"? it seems a more encyclopedic title --Astrokey44 02:42, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

I agree. The railway is known under this name.

Wereldburger758 12:34, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Likewise. My father - A Burma railway veteran - never once referred to it as the "Death Railway". The current title is more dramatic than encyclopedic.Johnmc 07:39, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree. I was well aware of the Burma Railway, but had never heard the name Death Railway until I first saw this article. Grant65 | Talk 08:19, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

A more correct name for the railway is the Thai-Burma Railway (or conversely, Burma-Thai Railway). These are the most commonly used names. Fraser Tweedale 09:12, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Taimen - Rensetsu Tetsudo[edit]

This is the official Japanese name for the Thailand ( Siam ) - Burma Railway. It was planned by professional Japanese railway engineers who worked on behalf of Imperial Japanese Army´s Southern Army ( headquarter then in Sai-gon ) Railway Troops and supervised the construction of the railway. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:34, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Use of the railway[edit]

The railway was used by the Japanese but by the end of the war the Americans bombed the lines with the first guided bombs so that the railway in the end didn't benefit the Japanese wareffort. Does anyone know more about this?

Sections of railway damaged by aerial bombardment were swiftly repaired by Japanese engineers with the help of forced labour. After the surrender of the Japanese the railway saw limited use by the Allies (it main use was as a means of transport for war graves search parties and evacuation of bodies). After the war the railway was torn up as there was no practical use for it. The section from Ban Pong to Nam Tok was later relaid (I can probably find out exactly when) so essentially none of the original railway exists today. Fraser Tweedale 09:12, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Wereldburger758 12:33, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

The Japanese planned to transport in both directions 3.000 tons of goods and soldiers daily in 10 pairs of good trains and one daily pair of passenger trains. In addition there run one pair of military train carrying about 4.000 Japanese soldiers monthly to and from Burma on the " Running when required bases ". The line saw thus daily 11 pair of trains up to end of September 1944. In October 1944 the traffic declined and through workings stopped totally between Siam and Burma along the Taimen - Rensetsu Tetsudo on November 29.1944 when the Allied bombing caused minor damage to the Tha Makan bridge. On February 13.1945 when RAF Liberator bombers managed to destroy section five destroying spans number four and six. The complete list of all Japanese locomotives which were transferred by Southern Army Railway Department to work on Taimen - Rensetsu Tetsudo is available. In addition there were allocated also some confiscated locomotives from Malaya, Siam and Burma. And during the Great War in 1915-1916 more than 25.000 Austrian, German, and Hungarian POW´s died when constructed the Murmansk Railway between Petrozavodsk ( Petroskoi ) and Kandalaksha ( Kantalahti ) 767 km. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:09, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

12.000 Japanese[edit]

The sentence:"About 200,000 conscripted Asian labourers and 12,000 Japanese army and 60,000 Allied POW's were forced to work on the railway.", is not correct. The Japanese were not forced nor did they work. Maybe 12.000 Japanese had the supervision over the prisoners. But I don't know myself. Erasing the mentioning of the Japanese in the above sentence.

Wereldburger758 18:55, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Incorrect. Many Japanese engineers worked on the railway. PoWs did the grunt work. Not sure of exact numbers but 12,000 seems quite reasonable (can and will find out). Some critical or dangerous sections of the railway were built exclusively by the Japanese engineering corps with now PoW or other external involvement. Fraser Tweedale 09:12, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Some figures are available. The Japanese recruited about 200.000 local inhabitants for the railway building. The number of Japanese working on the line never exceeded 5.000 men. Others were POW´s: British 30.000, Australians 13.000, Dutch 18.000, Americans 700, and local Malayans who served in Colonial Service 14.000. The Japanese official figures show 68.888 POW´s in Taimen - Rensetsu Tetsudo construction work. Of British POW´s 12.493 was reported to be buried in the War Cemeteries in Burma or in banks of the beautiful Kwai River in Siam ( Thailand ). As one British POW ( Major Basil Peacock ) has written: " Even the most prejudiced ex-prisoner must anknowledge that the Japanese engineers were very skilled and determined men, experts of improvisation. The task would have daunted many engineers of other races, even working with help of mechanical aids. It is doubtful if even the Japanese could have done it had the Kwai River not made possible to use sampans as transport. The tools used were shovels, picks, saws, crowbars, hammers, and rope. No ex-prisoner from the Kwai now wonders how the mighty works of antiquity were built - a vast expendable labour force can accomplish anything. " —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:50, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Death Railway?[edit]

I can understand why it's called the Death Railway (because of all the people who died building it) but at the same time it seems kind of like loaded language. In addition, this made a vacation to Burma or Thailand less appealing for me. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:54, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

Believe me, it was less appealing for those who worked on the railway both those who died and the few survivors. --Bejnar (talk) 06:23, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

The Real Death Railway[edit]

If someone wants to compare the death toll among the POW´s and the Prisoners of Gulag lagers in Soviet Union after World War Two in 1947 - 1953 when building the Salehard - Urengoi " Death Railway " the less than 13.000 deaths in Burma and Siam ( Thailand ) is small when compared to this Stalin´s railway project where more than 40.000 prisoners died during the construction. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:02, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

There is no doubt that there have been forced labour projects with greater loss of life. But the loss of 13,000 lives is *never* "small", no matter what it's being compared to. That brings to mind a quote - interestingly enough, attributed to Stalin - namely, "If one dies, it's a tragedy. If ten million die, it's a statistic." By all means, create the article about Stalin's railway, and link it to here. But please don't talk the Burma Railway down. My father - ex POW, and Burma Railway survivor - would be rolling in his grave.Johnmc (talk) 07:44, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Thanks Johnmc for your comment. I create an article of Berija´s Constuction Project No 502 in the Wikipedia. Why I have given the comparable firures out is simply to show that some countries in the " Allied Side " used same methods what did the Japanese in World War Two. You have to remember that the old Samurai tradition could not except the word " unconditional surrendering ", this was agaist their believe of the soldiers fate, ( a great shame where people lost their respects ) which was against their soldier fate. I really regret the death of nearly 13.000 British POW´s and all others who gave their life when constructed this 415 km railway. But the facts are clear: The Japanese had their railway and it run smoothly with 11 pairs of trains for one year. This is the fact you cannot take out from history. The Japanese railway engineers were clever to build even such a railway. This is the main fact. When taking the Korean guards in POW labours ( as the Japanese said: Dog eating bastards ) we cannot take the treatment for Western POW´s as the main fact of the railway. The railway operated and this is the main fact. It is funny to see that the treatment of the POW´s had taken the major rule when describing the fate of this " Taimen Rensetsu Tetsudo. " 99 per cent of the western " experts " do not even known the Japanese name of this Siam - Burma Railway. Railway history must be taken as it appears from the official statistics, still available in Tokio, Japan, Bangkok, Thailand, Singapore, and Rangoon Burma ( Yangoon, Myanmar. )

==Good grief!! Is this the work of a right-wing Nihonjin nutter or what?! What a load of racist hog wash, next they'll be saying that the Holocaust was the fault of the Jews.

Sickening rubbish purporting to justify the unjustifiable - particularly the contempt reserved for Koreans (dog-eating bastards)

Yeah. I probably should have been less restrained with my initial reply. However, this particular contributor hasn't made any edits since this one, and no edits where made to the actual article, so the advice regarding "sleeping dogs", etc. etc. might apply. Interestingly enough, his IP address resolves to Helsinki, but - not being versed in internet skulduggery - this might just mean it was done via proxy or something. As for "smooth" operation of the railway for 12 months, I would seriously doubt that, considering that the Allies considered - as they would - the railway a prime bombing target even before it was completed.Johnmc (talk) 02:12, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

As many books as exist on this subject, there's no reason why this article can't make featured someday. It just needs someone to crack a few of those books and get to writin'. My "to do" list is fairly full, but if someone starts building this and needs some copyediting or formatting help, I'm willing and able. Cla68 (talk) 02:31, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Details of units used on the line[edit]

I can understand why Grant65 removed the details of US units involved on the line (it doesn't flow in well with the opening paragraph), but i think there is room for a "units involved in construction of the line" section, with details of Australian, British, Dutch and US military units that were used. (I realise this doesn't address civilian labour).Johnmc (talk) 10:29, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Merge proposal with Hellfire Pass[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
Hellfire Pass has changed considerably over the last 2 years and there is hardly any overlap. I added a small section to this article and a prominent link, so a merge is no longer required. -- P 1 9 9 • TALK 17:17, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

The opening paragraph of the Hellfire Pass deals with the subject, but the remainder of it deals with the Burma Railway in general, duplicating a lot of the Burma_Railway article. I think the Hellfire Pass paragraph could be incorporated into this article as a subsection, and the other information absorbed into the article. Johnmc (talk) 02:28, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

This article has a better name, "Death Railroad", bibliography and summary paragraph. The "Hellfire Pass" article has grippingly interesting content and stunningly graphic pictures of the POW's plight. It gives better evidence and information.

Both articles would benefit from consolidation, as long as NONE of the Hellfire content is cut. It's the better article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:14, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Support Merge - Hellfire Pass can be safely moved into Burma Railway.  «l| Ψrometheăn ™|l»  (talk) 23:07, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Support merger A simple redirect from Hellfire Pass to an appropriate section here should suffice. --Bejnar (talk) 06:26, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was no consensus to support move. JPG-GR (talk) 03:48, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

I suggest we move this article to Thailand-Burma Railway. The current name could easily be confused with the railways of Burma (as in Burmese Railways, Rail transport in Burma, or History of rail transport in Burma etc.). We could move the article and then create a disamb page for Burma Railway so that there is no confusion down the road. Comments?--Regents Park (bail out your boat) 17:58, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

(I filed a WP:RM before it occurred to me that I should bring it up here first. Apologies! Obviously this discussion takes precedence.)--Regents Park (bail out your boat) 18:02, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose At present, I believe that the literature on this topic primarily uses "Burma Railway". I will spend some time digging, but I find the expression "Thailand-Burma Railway", even more ambiguous than "Burma Railway". --Bejnar (talk) 23:57, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
    My suggestion is to disambiguate Burma Railway appropriately - so if someone looks for Burma Railway they'll get to the disamb page which will direct them appropriately. There is, for example, The Burma Railway Company which has nothing to do with the World War II railway (also the Burma State Railway, Burmese railways, etc.). An alternative is to move the current page to Burma Railway (some suitable moniker) but that will be even more confusing. I do realize that the usage 'Burma Railway' refers mostly to the Thai-Burma railway (mainly, I think, because Burma anything is quite forgotten) so any alternative solutions are welcome. --Regents Park (bail out your boat) 00:10, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
I don't see the necessity for a move at this point in time. If you want to create a disambiguation page for the various articles about railways in Burma, it doesn't meet the criteria, since there are only two, this one and History of rail transport in Burma. If another one comes along and a disambiguation page is appropriate, then I still feel that the current title here is not only appropriate, but clearly meets the Wikipedia naming standards. You can always put a dab header to History of rail transport in Burma or to a future disambiguation page. And no, Burma is not forgotten. --Bejnar (talk) 06:20, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Oppose. I have accumulated a small collection of Burma Railway accounts - mostly autobiographical - and there seems to be a variety of names, some of which substitute "Siam" for "Thailand". eg: "Burma-Siam Railroad", "Burma Railway", "Thailand-Burma Railway", "Thai/Burma Railway", "Burma-Thailand Railway", "Burma-Siam Railway", etc. There are also the expected usages of "death" in the title, "Burma-Siam 'death' Railway", "Death Railway", "Railway of Death". (I would also add that I would oppose any move to a "Death Railway" style title for this article. I know that such a title would be accurate - my late father was a Burma Railway survivor, and his treatment there cost him his health in his later life, and quite likely contributed to his death - but I would not think it appropriate for an encyclopedia article.)
I would prefer to preserve the status quo with "Burma Railway", but if change becomes necessary, I would suggest "Burma-Thailand Railway", for two reasons:
1. This is how the railway is referred to in "The War Diaries of Weary Dunlop", which is arguably the best known account of the line, and:
2. This is how the railway is referred to in chap. 24 of "The Japanese Thrust", which is the AWM's offical account of the event. This would probably be the closest we have to an "offical" name for the line. Johnmc (talk) 10:58, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

(outdent) Well, its up to you guys for the time being. I've created a disamb page Railways of Burma and popped a note on the top of Burma Railway so you can see what I mean. I think it is the appropriate solution but, que sera sera ....!--Regents Park (bail out your boat) 18:14, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Works for me. Are you aware that Burma Railway Company redirects to History of rail transport in Burma? I guess that it deserves a separate article, but if it had one, it would eat up most all of History of rail transport in Burma. But then, the History of rail transport in Burma could be expanded to include the last 60 years. --Bejnar (talk) 08:55, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
For the time being Burma Railway Company redirects to History of rail transport in Burma. But, it deserves an article in its own right and I'll get to it (or someone else will!) sooner or later. More to come on History of rail transport in Burma but it is very hard to find information on the railways after Burmese independence. Not that much was done till the 1990s - the tracks were not maintained, the rolling stock was mostly old English stuff, and there were no new lines added. Since the 1990s, there have been significant upgrades (thanks to help from China and India). (Sorry, I'm getting carried away!) BTW, do you mean that you're ok with moving this page to something else or you're ok with leaving it as it is with the pointer to the dab page on the top? If the latter, I'll close this as 'no consensus' and we can revisit the issue, if necessary, later. --Regents Park (bail out your boat) 14:23, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Rail gauge[edit]

The rail gauge, which is not mentioned, is presumably 1? Peter Horn User talk 20:43, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Correct. Same gauge as the rest of the Thai/Malaysian/Cambodian system.Johnmc (talk) 21:57, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Not this again[edit]

I like how the proportion of deaths among "Asian laborers", their working conditions, and the breakdown of their nationalities is less significant than that of the POWs, even as they outnumbered them 3 to 1. Seriously, does this page have to overemphasize the importance of captured Allied combatants rather than defenseless civilians? - (talk) 09:47, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Well, yes. Wikipedia limits itself to published sources, and defenseless civilians didn't publish many, even though there simply wouldn't be any combatants if there weren't defenseless civilians to support them, cradle to the grave. --Pawyilee (talk) 16:29, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

(I'm new here): I am looking at this because I was told by a museum visitor that many Vietnamese and Chinese died but not one Thai. I find this impossible to believe and cannot imagine the Siamese army which collaborated with the Japs not sending Thai prisoners to face the horrors along with the enemy troops. Sorry I was offended to see the detail given to the tragedy of the allied soldiers and surely some research has been done into the suffering of the Asian others which needs inclusion to balance this article. Ricky CNX (talk) 13:55, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Prominent people who helped build the line[edit]

This section contains several redlinks and unreferenced persons.

I propose that these are deleted in, say, six weeks unless authenticated prior to this.Tomintoul (talk) 15:14, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

Numbers are inconsistent[edit]

"16,000 Allied POWs died as a direct result of the project. The dead POWs included 6,318 British personnel, 2,815 Australians, 2,490 Dutch, about 356 Americans and a smaller number of Canadians and New Zealanders."

This does not compute. 6318+2815+2490+356 = 11,979. If the number of Canadians and New Zealanders are individually less than 356, then the total by simple addition cannot be more than 12,689. Were there other nationalities of Allied POWs involved but not mentioned? Perhaps Indians? I realize there is a reference for the passage, but oughtn't there be a note added that the numbers don't compute? It's frustrating to find such glaring numerical problems in an encyclopedia article. Fnj2 (talk) 01:44, 22 August 2013 (UTC)


"In accordance with the traditions of the US military, the remains of its personnel were repatriated to the United States: ..." I think that this sentence is false because remains of many WWII soldiers are still in military cemetery in France. Skiff (talk) 10:20, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

"Dusty" Rhodes[edit]

On several occasions good faith links from the portrait of "Dusty" Rhodes have been made to an American fighter pilot. This is wrong. The portrait is of an English soldier, formerly of the Palestine Police, as shown in the inscription on the portrait.

"For reference only"[edit]

What's the deal with the "for reference only" links? This is a style I've not seen anywhere else in Wikipedia. Should they go? --Yaush (talk) 17:41, 6 November 2014 (UTC)