The Bridge of the River Kwai

The Bridge of the River Kwaiis the bridge of great historical importance; it is the most important point of The Death Railway. The Imperial Japanese Army led the construction of the bridge during World War II by forcing the prisoners of war who were the Allied Forces to build the railway track. The forced 61,700 prisoners of war were soldiers from Britain, America, Australia, and Holland. In addition to the forced labors, a large number of workers from China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, and India were also hired in the construction. In order to complete the railway to Myanmar, the bridge was constructed to link the railroads on both banks of the river. During the construction, a large number of prisoners of war painfully died of sickness, malnutrition, and exhaustion.     

The construction of The Bridge of the River Kwaiwas complete in only one month by using imported steel plates from Malaysia as the main structure; the middle of the bridge was 11 phases of steel, the bridgeheads and other parts were made of wood. After finished, the grand inauguration was held on 25th December 2486 B.E. Then, in November, 2487 B.E., the Allied Forces continuously bombed the bridge until the middle part of the bridge was destroyed. After the war, in 2489 B.E., the bridge was rebuilt in the polygon shape by Thai government and was then formally reopened for general public. Nowadays, the bridge becomes the symbol of peace.

The Bridge of the River Kwaiwas severely attacked by a frequent bombing of the Allied Forces. The first attack was in November, 2487 B.E. following by other ten bombardments during the war. The attack made the phase 4 to 6 of the bridge damaged and unusable. Then, after the war, the State Railway of Thailand rebuilt the middle part of the bridge into two phases, and both bridgeheads were reconstructed into 6 phases.

There are several polygon-shaped bridges in Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar; most of the bridges are made of wood and only 15 polygon-shaped bridges made of steel are found in Thailand.

Location: The Bridge of the River Kwai is located in Tambon Tha Makham, Amphoe Mueang in Kanchanaburi Province; about 4 kilometers on Highway No. 323 heading northward from Amphoe Mueang, then turn left and keep straight about 400 meters.