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Bridge on the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi, Thailand 2018
The Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway, the Siam–Burma Railway, the Thai–Burma Railway and similar names, was a 415-kilometre (258 mi) railway between Ban Pong, Thailand, and Thanbyuzayat, Burma, built by the Empire of Japan in 1943 to support its forces in the Burma campaign of World War II. This railway completed the rail link between Bangkok, Thailand, and Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon). The name used by the Japanese Government is 泰緬連接鉄道 (Thai–Men-Rensetsu-Tetsudow), which means Thailand-Myanmar-Link-Railway.
The line was closed in 1947, but the section between Nong Pla Duk and Nam Tok was reopened ten years later.
Between 180,000 and 250,000 Southeast Asian civilian labourers (rōmusha) and about 61,000 Allied prisoners of war were subjected to forced labour during its construction. About 90,000 civilian labourers and more than 12,000 Allied prisoners died.
One of the most notable portions of the entire railway line is Bridge 277, the so-called Bridge on the River Kwai, which was built over a stretch of a river that was then known as part of the Mae Klong River.
This bridge was immortalized by Pierre Boulle in his book and the film which was based on it, The Bridge on the River Kwai. However, there are many who point out that both Boulle's story and the film which was adapted from it were utterly unrealistic and do not show how bad and poor the conditions and general treatment of the Japanese-held prisoners-of-war (POWs) were. On the part of the Japanese, many resented the movie's depiction that their engineers' capabilities were inferior and less advanced to those of their British counterparts.