Tuesday, October 2, 2018
The Burma Railway I had heard of. The Sumatra Railway I had not heard of. Both often referred to as the Railway of Death. As it was in Burma so was it too in Sumatra.
From that era of the Second World War. Allied prisoner of war [POW] and Asian impressed labor [Javanese] forced to build a railway to expedite cross-island [Sumatra] Japanese military movement.
That loss of life during construction of the railway horrific in the extreme. Allied POW and impressed labor basically succumbing to harsh working conditions, cruel and barbaric treatment, disease, malnutrition, etc. What else you might ask!
Thanks to the tip from the BBC History magazine and the original article by Dr Lizzie Oliver.
"The Sumatra Railway, also referred to as the Pekanbaru Death Railway, was a railway project of the Imperial Japanese army in Sumatra during the Second World War. It was designed to connect Pekanbaru to Muaro in an effort to strengthen the military and logistical infrastructure for coal and troop shipments . . . They used forced labour and prisoners of war. 6,500 Dutch, mostly Indo-Europeans, 1000 British prisoners of war along with 300 POWs from America, Australia and New Zealand. This number of POWs was dwarfed however by the over 120,000 Indonesian, mostly Javanese, forced workers called Romusha which were put to work by the Japanese army. By the time the work was completed in August 1945 almost a third of the European POWs had died and only around 16,000 of the 120,000 Indonesian Romusha had survived."
"The railway was completed on VJ Day, 15 August 1945. It was only USED ONCE and then quickly became overgrown by the jungle."
SURVIVORS ALLIED POW AND JAVANESE IMPRESSED LABOR BOTH FORTUNATE THE WAR ENDED ABRUPTLY AND IN THE MANNER AS WHICH IT DID. LAST-LEGGERS [A person who is . . . very tired or near to death] THEIR LIFE EXPECTANCY TO BE MEASURED IN WEEKS IF NOT DAYS! ASSISTANCE AND REMEDIAL CARE ARRIVING FORTUNATELY AND ABLE TO AVERT FURTHER CATASTROPHE!
Being a captive of the Japanese during WW2 not a pleasant experience fully understood and for which no further elaboration required!!