Building the death railway: the ordeal of American POWs in by Robert Sherman La Forte, Ronald E. Marcello

By Robert Sherman La Forte, Ronald E. Marcello

The Oscar-winning motion picture 'Bridge Over the River Kwai' dramatized to hundreds of thousands the construction of the notorious eastern 'Death Railway' - the availability line for Japan's deliberate invasion of India in the course of international conflict II. however the motion picture advised merely a part of the tale, giving the effect that every one males engaged on the road have been British. actually, 668 american citizens - serving at the USS Houston and with the Texas nationwide Guard's moment Battalion - labored along the opposite Allied troops within the jungle camps. In 'Building the loss of life Railway', their tale is instructed for the 1st time. In 22 interviews with American survivors, we research the main points in their long ordeal. ailment, punishment, camaraderie, paintings stipulations and makes an attempt to flee are defined via the lads who have been there. the tale starts with their catch and ends with their liberation forty two months later. The Burma-Thailand 'Death Railway' used to be essentially the most terrible sentences a prisoner of conflict may perhaps undergo. hundreds of thousands died within the jungles of Burma. greater than a hundred thirty americans - one guy in 5 - by no means back domestic, sufferers of forget, abuse, hunger and illness. 'Building the dying Railway' offers the yankee point of view on occasions that stunned the area.

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Additional info for Building the death railway: the ordeal of American POWs in Burma, 1942-1945

Sample text

Saluting and bowing were necessary demonstrations of total respect of the Imperial Army. To the Texans, bowing was a form of deliberate humiliation, but they grudgingly learned to comply. It was during the first three months as captives that adjustments took place. Tom Whitehead, then a twenty-one-year-old member of Service Battery, summed it up concisely: "They were in power. We were at their mercy. " Page xx Without prior notice the Second was shifted by train and truck from Tanjong Priok to Bicycle Camp in May 1942.

During this period, which lasted several weeks, the Japanese largely ignored the unit. Unfortunately, this did not last; rear echelon Japanese troops took control of the POWs and herded them onto a train bound for Tanjong Priok. Weighted down by personal gear, the Guardsmen moved too slowly for the Japanese, who pushed, shoved, kicked, and slapped them during the train ride and while marching to the prison compound. To their surprise, the Javanese, who had been friendly with Americans, turned hostile, throwing rocks, rotten fruit, and vegetables at them.

The Japanese had already sunk the Houston. Some Americans were fortunate enough to get out of Java. The twentythree members of the Second Battalion who joined the Nineteenth Bomb Group left the Dutch East Indies with it when that unit evacuated in early March. The 131st had received seventeen men from Headquarters Battery, Twenty-sixth Field Artillery Brigade, in late February. The brigade, which was from East Garrison, Camp Roberts, California, had gone to Australia with the 131st aboard the USAT Republic and then to Java on the Bloemfontein.

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