Title: The Men of the Line – Stories of the Thai-Burma Railway Survivors
Author: Wright, Pattie
Edition: 2nd Edition
Publication Date: 2008
Cover: Hard Cover without Dust Jacket – 301 pages
Comments: The story of the extraordinary engineering feat of the Thai-Burma Railway, told by the men of the Line.
Australians with no direct experience of war should read these moving and at times horrific tales by Australian prisoners who helped build the 415km Thai-Burma railway during World War II.
‘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
‘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
‘Finding myself on the Line in Burma was like being in another world, one that had no reference to anything a human could understand or deal with . . . 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
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 died of starvation, torture and disease at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. The Men of the Line recounts 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.
About the Author
Pattie Wright has worked as a producer and director in the Australian film industry for most of her working life. Involvement in developing a feature film on the life of Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop began her interest in the history and men of the Thai-Burma Railway. Pattie is married with three teenage sons and a loud black kelpie.