The extraordinary engineering feat of the Thai-Burma Railway, or the Line as it is often called, was achieved with a slave labour force-an Asian contingent and Allied prisoners-of-war, including Australian, British, Dutch and American soldiers.
Construction of the 415 kilometres of railway connecting Ban Pong in Thailand to Thanbyuzayat in Burma commenced in June 1942. This labour force built 688 bridges-eight made of steel and concrete-viaducts, cuttings, embankments and kilometres and kilometres of railway track through thick malarial jungle.
The Men of the Line captures the experiences of these men in their own words. For many of the men this may be their last, and in some cases their first, opportunity to put their stories on record.
When we got to the Line, we didn’t know what to expect. We knew we weren’t going to be treated with kid gloves, but we didn’t expect the fourteen to sixteen hours a day on bloody 6 ounces of rice … They worked us to death slowly.- Paddy O’Toole, 2/29th Battalion, C Company
There were only 200 of us left out of the 1200 who had arrived at Songkurai. We were down to the last 200; we had lost 1000 people. It needs repeating, don’t you think?- Reg Jarman, Medical Orderly, 2/10th Australian Field Ambulance, F Force
I never gave up hope of getting back to Australia- that was the aim of every spoonful of rice I swallowed. Truthfully, it was an enormous effort in staying alive.- Bertram Jennings Mettam, Sergeant, 2/29th Battalion, F Force