Hellfire Pass
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Hellfire Pass – Kanchanaburi

by Dr. David

Hellfire Pass ,  One of the hardest parts of The Death Railway construction was Hellfire Pass. The Australian and British prisoners of war had to work extremely hard on this part of the railway construction. They worked mostly with very simple manual tools, mining through the hard rock. These tough conditions and the Japanese soldiers’ cruelty caused many of the prisoners of war to lose their lives on this part of the railway construction.

A memorial site and a museum were built in memory of those prisoners of war who lost their lives in the construction of this part of The Death Railway during World War II, as a joint venture of the Australian and Thai governments. The museum includes a walking path leading to the mining area. The place is very well kept and the small museum contains a lot of information about the prisoners of war and the walking path is very convenient, (about an hour both ways).

Hellfire Pass is called Chong Khao Khat in the Thai language and the Japanese call it Konyu Cutting. The name Hellfire Pass was given to it as work there was so hard it was done 24 hours a day – it did not stop even at night. The Bamboo torches used to light the place during night time, the carbide lamps and the mining sounds made the place feel like hell to the prisoners of war – thus giving it its famous name – Hellfire Pass.

As I wrote this was the hardest part of the railway construction it called for mining to a depth of 17 meters along 110 meters of very hard rock, using only manual tools.

The construction work begun with 400 Australian prisoners of war. Later on, another group of 600 British and Australian prisoners of war joined them. They were forced to work 18 hours a day in extremely hard conditions.

The railway construction started on April 25, 1943 and was finished only 6 weeks later. During the war 69 prisoners of war were beaten to death by the Japanese and many others died of hunger, disease and forced labor.

This memorial site was built in memory of the Australian and British prisoners of war who died while building The Death Railway. The memorial site includes a museum, a lookout point and a 4 Km. walking path.

How to get to Hellfire Pass: Hellfire Pass is located just off road number 323, approx. 80 Km. from the town of Kanchanaburi.

Opening Hours:  every day between 09:00 – 16:00

Important Note: Hellfire Pass is included in TipTop-Travel best quality Kanchanaburi tour programs.

On a personal note: I visited Hellfire Pass memorial site not long ago and was deeply moved by it. I made this video with deep sympathy to those who lost their lives by the Nazi soldiers and their Japanese allies, as a humble contribution to their memory.

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