The Death Railway (Kindle)
The Personal Account of Lieutenant Colonel Kappe on the Thai-Burma Railroad
They had faced the indignity of surrender and the squalor of Changi prison, so the spirits of the British and American troops lifted when they were told that they would be transferred to another healthier location where conditions would be more benign and food far more abundant. A total of 7,000 men, approximately half British and half Australian, were to be moved, the men being told that they would not be compelled to work. As there were not that number of fit men at Changi, many weak and unwell soldiers formed part of the group that was designated ‘F’ Force.
From the outset, the prisoners realized that none of the promises the Japanese had made would be fulfilled. Herded into trucks, they were transported on a nightmare rail journey into Thailand and then marched for hundreds of miles along a jungle track through the torrential monsoon rains to miserable camps where there was little in the way of cover or accommodation.
Despite utter exhaustion, upon arrival at the camps, the men were forced to work on the road and rail links the Japanese needed to carry supplies and reinforcements for their assault upon British-held India. With precious little food or medical supplies, the men soon fell prey to terrible and fatal diseases and soon hundreds had died. Despite the protests of the British and Australian officers, conditions in the malaria and cholera infested camps were utterly horrific. As Lieutenant Colonel Kappe wrote, the ‘barbarism’ they experienced at the hands of the Japanese had never ‘been equaled … in history’.
Kappe, therefore, set himself the task of documenting the atrocities the men of ‘F’ Force endured from May to October 1943, which resulted in more than 3,000 men losing their lives. His report is reproduced here in full – every disturbing episode in this almost unbelievable drama, told as he saw and experienced it at first hand. Rarely has there been such a document produced in a prisoner of war camp, its survival being as monumental as the sufferings of the men described in its pages.
I still found it interesting and informative. I'm sure many on here with an interest in this conflict will find it worth reading.Arrse
Read the full review here
Having met and worked with a survivor of this nightmare, I found some of it difficult to read and assimilate. Unbelievable inhumanity on an enormous scale.Books Monthly
This is one of those books that you read and you’re glad you never had to experience any of that. The lack of food, clothing and treatment would you would think send you mad and then to couple it with extreme heat and varying diseases is unimaginable. In a way, if you hadn’t read this book it would be hard to believe it or imagine when you think there used to be rules in place for looking after prisoners of war. This book reminded me of the film The Bridge Over the River Kwai in places, but I don’t think you can really understand how harsh it was unless you were there. Although this wasn’t a pleasant read, I’m glad I did, and enjoyed the writing of Lt Col Charles Kappe certainly a book for those interested in WW2 in the Far East.UK Historian
Read the full review here
As featured inThe Bookseller
The Death Railway is an accurate account of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Kappe. He experienced the atrocities of the PsOW that the Japanese forced to build a railway through Western Thailand to Myanmar.NetGalley, Meradith Thayer
The terrain of this area was rugged, the temperature was hot, and the treatment of these men was abysmal. What these prisoners underwent was horrific and unimaginable... If you are interested in WWII history that is more obscure and less talked about, this is a great book to read! It was very educational but also truthfully graphic.