Andy’s Railway Journey through Myanmar – Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, SE Myanmar

“Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, SE Myanmar

A beautifully maintained and peaceful place. Buried here are those who died as POWs whilst working under horrific/inhumane conditions to build what has become known as the Thailand-Burma death railway for the Japanese military.

Buried here are 1,651 British, 1,335 Australian, 621 Dutch 15 Indian Army, 3 New Zealand and 1 Canadian. The American dead were repatriated back to the USA after the war. The cemetery was initially established during the construction of the railway as a hospital cemetery. After the war it was re-established as a Commonwealth Graves War Cemetery and has been maintained by the War Graves Commission ever since.

Thanbyuzayat contains those who died on the Burma section of the railway. A grave survey party early in 1946 travelled from Thanbyuzayat through to Ban Pong in Thailand locating the graves of all but 52 of those buried along the line. Approx. 13,000 POWs died during construction and afterwards during ongoing maintenance of the line. Containers holding the details of those buried, graveyard layouts plus notes on atrocities were secretly buried with the remains as the Japanese were reluctant to interfere with the dead. This made remains identification for the recovery teams somewhat easier.

For Kate and myself plus Ni Ni (our Myanmar guide) it was a time to reflect. The RSL Emerald Sub branch had provided me with a bunch of ceremonial poppies to take with me on the trip. I placed mine on the grave of an Unknown Australian serviceman. Kate who is from Scotland on the grave of a member of an artillery unit in the British Army. Kate’s father had served in the Burma campaign as a signaller in a British Army artillery unit. The remainder of the poppies were handed to Ni Ni who placed them on the grave of an Indian soldier. There was a tear or two shed from each of us.

Later we enjoyed an Asian meal at a Thanbyuzayat food outlet. It was run by a lovely Chinese family and the elder of the family joined our table at lunch. He was in his late 80s and well remembers the Japanese occupation period. He talked about very difficult times for the Burmese people, in particular the Chinese who were persecuted by the Japanese with many fleeing to the mountains during the occupation.

Images: Place your cursor over the pictures below to read about the history.





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