Leo Rawlings – War artist on the death railway


9 March 1944: Leo Rawlings – War artist on the death railway

Men still working in the jungle camps and the railway sidings were drafted out to operate on the track laying gangs. Up to eighteen hours per day, and in some cases even more, was expected and demanded of these unfortunates, the sick along with the half-fit — for now no fit men remained. All were either physically or mentally sick.

Desperate bravery of Australian PoWs on Death Railway


10th December 1943: Desperate bravery of Australian PoWs on Death Railway

I have nothing but admiration for these game chaps. One Dutchman I was talking to said neither he or any of his countrymen would even dream of placing their heads on a block, even though such sorties might result in the obtaining of much needed food for the very ill. ‘You Australians beat me’, he said. ‘Only wants one of the guards to change his pattern of patrol, and your friends will die’.

Death railway bridge built like ‘a pack of cards’

1st April 1943: Death railway bridge built like ‘a pack of cards’

As we sang these numbers, we’d pull on the rope. This huge great lump of steel would rise up. On the last ’nisio’ we would all let go. Down would come the pile-driver and the pole would sink another inch. All day seven days a week, for weeks on end, with not a single day off, we drove these bloody things into the ground.

Cholera and Japanese savagery on the Railway of Death


26th June 1943: Cholera and Japanese savagery on the Railway of Death

A cholera death in the British camp today along with 3 others. Their state is pitiable but then, Oh Lord! hygiene is a menace to us who live alongside them. No. 2 rock clearing party left today at 0700 hours in darkness and no doubt will not be back until late tonight, poor devils. So the pace increases. Imagine those poor ill, exhausted wretches having to be got up, fed, issued with lunch rice and got away in black darkness after counts, etc. and to drag their way into camp again in the dark some fourteen hours hence.

Cholera strikes the POWs on the Railway of Death


15th June 1943: Cholera strikes the POWs on the Railway of Death

Three thick pieces of bamboo about two and a half feet wide were laid on the ground as the head, middle and bottom of the bed frame; and long pieces, flattened out, were laid on top of them. These were the standard pieces which we supplied by joint labour. Over them we each built the best shelter we could devise, most of us using our groundsheets. We had also to dig ourselves a latrine.

Horror of journey to the Railway of Death

24th March 1943: Horror of journey to the Railway of Death

It was baking hot during the day and bitterly cold by night, and by now dysentery had got a grip on many of the lads. As each day in those horrific wagons passed we prayed that it was the end of the line and I said a silent prayer when the guards finally shoved us out of the trucks for the last time at Pan Pong, about forty miles west of Bangkok.

Working on the Railway of Death – Hellfire Pass

13th February 1943: Working on the Railway of Death – Hellfire Pass

It was the beginning for us of what would become the most notorious railway construction that the world had ever seen. The japanese engineer came over to inspect our work. He studied the clearing from several angles, using various surveying instruments, before declaring, ‘No gooda! Do again! Deeper!’

Survival strategy on the Railway of Death

3rd January 1943: Survival strategy on the Railway of Death

Life accordingly evolved into a blur of continuous work, people dying, guards bellowing, heavy loads to be carried, fever which came in tides of heat and cold on alternate days, dysentery and hunger. All those became the normal. Upon them, occasionally, an event super-imposed itself with suflicient violence to be remembered.

Struggle to survive on the Railway of Death

21st December 1942: Struggle to survive on the Railway of Death

At first he did not question that they were diphtheria cases; but he said that he had no antitoxin and that as Thailand was so backward he could not get any. This is obviously nonsense – there is a famous Pasteur Institute in Bangkok not far away. But Nobusawa was clearly not going to bother himself about it.

London landmarks and railways hit

Damage to civilian property and public buildings has been widespread in London and in other areas. A feature of the damage has been the number of huildings of national importance which have been affected. St. Pauls and the cathedrals of Canterbury and Coventry must take first place. In London the Royal Courts of Justice, the National Gallery, Kensington Palace, St. James’ Church, Piccadilly, the Natural History Museum, the Treasury, the War Office, No. 10 Downing Street, have all suffered damage.