photo of Glen Skewes enlargedHome Page
IntroductionIntroduction April 1943April 1943 May 1943May 1943 June 1943June 1943 July 1943July 1943 August 1943August 1943
September 1943Sept 1943 October 1943October 1943 November 1943Nov 1943 December 1943Dec 1943 1944 Entries1944 Entries ReflectionsReflections

Private GBW (Glen) Skewes

 Glen Skewes Changi Diary

N O V E M B E R    1 9 4 3

'Courage' and 'God' symbols

Back | Home | Print

November 1943

[No entry for 1st, or 2nd. - H.S.]

Melbourne Cup at Home!
Definitely going South to Singapore
Wednesday, 3rd November, 1943
Melbourne Cup in normal times. Much the same the last 2 days. Many more have passed away. The itch is beyond expression - it would drive one mad. Sleep from about 3a.m., then, when one warms up, the agonizing torment of this itch of sores and dry skin begins again. It nearly drove me mad last night. I have sores over my body - as have hundreds of others - and can hardly sit down at all- also over scrotum, arms, hands and legs. No oils or fats or fruit of any kind for 6 months now. Yesterday, we received wonderful news that we would be leaving this Hell in a few days. Going to Singapore. Oh, what a relief it will be! Only those who have been through this will ever know the suffering of body and mind in the Wilderness - this Jungle of disease. A cholera suspect yesterday. I hope it will not stop the move, for everyone's sake. If we have another 2 months, or even one, very few men will be left. Another amputation yesterday. Cpt. Juttner did the job, assisted by Mjr. Stevens and 2 others. Snowy Miller and another will be done and handed over to me today.

[No entry for 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th. - H.S.]

Monday 8th
I have been so worked these last few days that I have not been able to record even a line in this diary. I have been flat out with tent full of amputation cases in the bush - work and work. The latest case I have is Sgt. Ogilvey - leg amputated. He also suffers from 24 ulcers on right hand and 6 on left hand; an ulcer or pressure sore on each hip and one appearing on the back; diarrhoea very bad; and berri-berri in face. I went on sick parade this morning but could not get off duty to attend to terrible sores on my behind and legs and feet. Mjr. Stevens told me sorry, he could not spare me off duty. Therefore, as far as one's self is concerned, it does not pay to be a good and efficient worker as a Nursing Orderly. Row with Cursed Capt. Juttner yesterday, nearly left the job because of the mongrel. Strung rumours of move South in few days - on 15th - thank God our Father - as many will be saved, although men are dying like flies of ulcer toxemia through system, others of berri-berri and numbers of diarrhoea - all basically due to malnutrition.

[No entry for 9th, 10th 11th 12th 13th or 14th. - H.S.]

Monday 15th
During the interval since I wrote the last notes above, I have had no time to myself, not even time to jot down anything in this diary. Sgt. Ogilvey has kept me at top speed, as well as trying to do for all the others in the tent. I don't think I've ever had to work so hard or borne so much responsibility. I am carrying on with terrible Jungle sores on my seat that nearly cause me to cry with pain, also sores on shinbone and swollen up on feet. I tried to get put off onto another job, but was told, by Sgt. Mjr. Deans, they could not replace me on the job of specialling, and that if I bear through the strain of it here, he certainly would not forget me in the future, and give me an easy job... he vowed it. So I struggle on from daylight to dark, day by day. Now, Sgt. Ogilvey has died - cerebral infection and pneumonia. His whole system was infected with toxemia from ulcers. My job is now 60 times lighter. Bert Olds is helping me at present. Tent taken down and patients [now 4] moved into Ward 2. Many more of my acquaintances and friends have passed away. Bert Sweetman from Ballarat, friend of the Poynton's; also Bert Simeldorfa, a strapping specimen of manhood, both died in Burma. Many of 13th AGH Staff and over 3,000 of other Units of F Force alone have died of sickness - diarrhoea, malaria, dysentery and cholera - in the last 5 months. What a sad and morbid sight - to see our comrades being taken up the Jungle to be cremated, day and night. It would make the stoutest heart quiver with the terribleness of it. Shift takes place first train 17th of November - day after my birthday. I shall have 2 cigarettes for my 31st birthday tomorrow. I shall have to spend the day the same, as other days in this Hell of a place, men dying all around me -poor souls, their systems cannot hangout any longer. What a tragedy! And in 2 days the first train moves off at long last to where there should be fruit and eggs that can be bought - and hundreds of lives saved.

My thirty-first Birthday - Move is Imminent
Tuesday 16th
31 years of age today, and spending my birthday in the most terrible of Hell's places. More and more of our people are dying every day and night. A rehearsal today - By Order - of the first train which is to leave tomorrow with about 500 men. It will be a terrible journey for the 800 sick and certain percentage of dying; but everyone is overjoyed to get back to Civilization, which will be salvation for all except the D list. I can scarcely believe it's true, to be going back. It's like the end of the war feeling. We shall see daylight and life and food and freedom again soon - I have that feeling within. I dream of Home and loved ones every night lately. The Jungle sores on my seat are still nasty, but I am carrying on in spite of their pain and discomfort. Besides, I cannot get off duty as so many of the staff are ill. Among those who have died lately are Jock Dunn, the Hospital hairdresser; Bob Bolt; Bob Watson; Slim Johnson; Les Denis; and, this morning 17/11/43, my friend Victor Clayton of Cohuna, Victoria, who knew my relatives there - especially the late Amos Taylor and family. Poor Vic died this morning of cardiac berri-berri - face swollen so he could hardly see out of his eyes. It hit me hard. We had arranged to visit each other when we got Home, and indulge in the much-talked-of chocolate eclairs and cream. Poor Vic - cut off in youth like thousands of others here.

[No entry for 17th. - H.S.]

The first Parties of Men move South at Last
Thursday 18th
Only 50 men got away last night. Over 400 stayed here and are to march to No. 2 Camp tomorrow and then, so it is said, who will march to Neichki the next day and entrain from there. The Long-Looked-For move is at last slowly, very slowly, taking place. I suppose we will all be gone in a week. I still have very painful sores and have now developed berri-berri. Mjr. Stevens has put me onto vitamin tablets daily. I hope it will be stayed in its infancy. Ankles are puffed up with oedema and legs swelling up. Weather hot. Bugs and lice almost drive one insane by night - I have been sleeping out to avoid them, but Japs have taken my blanket now so I shan't know how to sleep tonight and remainder of nights while in this disease stricken Jungle. God, may the day of our departure rapidly come!

[No entry for 19th - H.S.]

Saturday 20th
450 men got away yesterday. I hope we shall quickly follow. The food is terrible, we certainly could not live for long on it at all. I pray we shall be shifted before many more men die - and that we will be taken where there is better food and we may be able to buy some fruit. It's 6 months - almost 7 - since we saw any fruit of any kind. Our bodies are suffering and starving for acids, fats and oils, iron and sulphur, etc -. one could go on naming our deficiencies. I am now laid up, off duty with infection on the bone of left ankle underneath the berri-berri and the pain I endured last night was great. Both ankles swollen up, and the anklebone refuses to act as I endeavor to walk. Mjr. Stevens has ordered me hot rice packs, plus 6 aspros to allay the pain. The sores on my seat are very painful and discharging a lot. I do hope I am on my feet and able to work when we leave, as we may have a hazardous trip in the steel trucks and one never knows - perhaps a long march.

I have Berri-Berri in Ankles - More Amputations
Sunday 21st
My right ankle gone back to normal, my left, some infection still on ankle bone and still swollen but no pain and much easier. Mjr. Stevens has given me another day off and I hope it's better by tomorrow; but I expect the berri-berri to take time before it goes completely. Another amputation this afternoon - Cpl. Webber, a leg. I shall have another under my care - possibly from tomorrow. The first party from the Hospital in Burma went past today - steam engine, and men in trucks. The rest of those living may be sent through tomorrow, then we may follow in 4 or 5 days. Allan Schleibes still cares for the Jungle sores on my seat twice daily. They seem less painful today - perhaps they were on my mind. It is cruel the way the only blanket was taken away from me. The weather is terribly cold at night - almost freezing, and very hot by day. I believe December is the coldest month in the country - Burma and Thailand.

[No entry for 22nd. - H.S.]

Tuesday 23rd
Some more of Burma party went by at midday today. Poor Bob McCann died of tropical ulcers and malnutrition. Also, Pte. [Big Red] McCullock died yesterday. Many have died during the past few days. My ankle slightly better but still puffed up. Diarrhoea I have at present also, because of the terrible food - just rice and a few yams [a squashy bulb plant like a daffodil bulb]. However, as we are told it is only for a few days we will suffer on to get out of this Hell, God willing.

Wednesday, 24th
Another amputation done this morning. I assisted at the operation over under the shelter of the Jungle trees, and rocks, which are 300 to 400 feet high, where there were few flies because of the shade and cool from the freezing night we had. Cpt. Taylor operated, assisted by Mjr. Stevens and Cpt. Wilson. Another Major gave the chloroform. Poor Leslie Moorna the Bugler from Brisbane, died today - the chap I liked very much - a great man was Les. It was not expected he would die. He had berri-berri and an ulcer on the leg, but the berri-berri must have been far worse than we thought - possibly cardiac berri-berri. I believe he was quite bright yesterday - no-one thought he would die here. He was married and leaves a wife [I think] 3 children. Ankle of mine still sore, and sores or small ulcers on each cheek of buttocks are most painful and discharging an enormous amount of pus, day and night. I am starting on night shift on the amputation cases tonight. I am to leave on the last train with them - about Sunday, we hope, next train is supposed to go off.

Return Trip begins - Trainload of Patients
Thursday, 25th
Another 30 men went off last night and they also were not allowed to board train here at Camp, but were forced to march 2 miles to No. 2 Camp - many were ulcer patients. A further 50 men are leaving this afternoon. So far, Mjr. Stevens and Mjr. Johnson have failed in their appeal to have the train stop here to pick up the bed-patients. There are about 130 stretcher cases, and it seems they will have to be carried the 2 miles to Songkrai.

Friday, 26th
At last the long-looked-for day has come! We are to go today. Great news is at hand - the Japanese have considered the Doctor's appeal and have agreed to stop the train of grain trucks for a few minutes by the roadside to take on sick and ailing men, and Nursing Orderlies - that is, if we can get them on quickly enough. We left Kami Songkrai at 3.30p.m on Friday, 26th of November 1943. Account of train journey South - written at a later date follows.

The Journey South
The Journey South was altogether most hazardous, I was unable to write this diary during the five day trip, on account of the awkwardness of the situation. I was carrying on under a rather unnatural strain. There was not room enough to lie down on the trucks; and I could not sit down as one normally would. Because of the Jungle sores or badly infected scabies on my buttocks which were most painful and raw. Cpt. Wilson kindly dressed them daily, and sometimes twice daily, which gave relief for the following 3 to 4 hours. The whole journey was a real nightmare for each and every one of us! However, although I could write, much is retained in my memory, beginning from the hours of the departure from Kami Songkrai on the 26th of November 1943. The final hour of zero came at 3.30p.m. and all the sick - heavy sick, approximately 120 lying down bed patients - were lined up along the road a few feet from the railway line. The engine and trucks slowed up, stopped, and all hands got to the stretchers and gear. We had been in action about 3 minutes. There were about 5 patients lying arranged on the bottom of the rough truck. Amputation cases suffered bumps and jerks, which could not be avoided. As I've said, about 3 minutes had elapsed and we still had more patients to get aboard and all my kit and belongings were still on the roadside. The train whistle blew and the train pulled off. Many had their gear left behind. I yelled out "Get my gear!" and someone still on the ground threw my pack, water bottle, etc., into trucks as they whizzed by. Those left behind had to come on another train. At dark, we got off at Neichki. I met my good friend Allan Schleibs, who handed me a pack of 20 cigarettes and some two-dollar cake made by the Dutch. We had patients taken several hundred yards and put in tents for the night. I undressed to lie down myself, as did many others. No sooner were we down, than came the Jap order to shift all patients again! There were only 2 stretchers to do this, and there was much 'Curri, Curri' from the Japs. Well, it was midnight by the time we got them all to the train again and, after we had packed 25 to 27 patients into each truck, we were told we could not move until next day. Well! I'II never forget this ghastly experience. All night all hands did a freeze - and I mean freeze - in those icy steel trucks with open doors. Some patients without blankets. There were some dysentery and some diarrhoea patients - what a job, getting bamboo bowls in to those men for bedpans and trying to see them in the dark. I could not get to my gear as it was under very sick men, so I froze till daylight - the coldest night I've ever known. I had only cobweb-thin shirt and a pair of shorts, and I felt like one not living. The cold finished off one young Englishman - he died in that freezing state at about 3a.m. He had no blanket and was only covered by two bags, therefore he quickly fell victim to the elements of that terrible night.

We Leave Neichki after Freezing Night
In the morning, before we left Neichki, we were given a breakfast of rice with 2 spoons of sugar. What a treat that was! Although they both were carbohydrates and our bodies lacking everything else in 2 years. I was hungry and ate it ravenously. At 10a.m. that morning, Saturday 27th, we pushed off for the South. That trip was a nightmare - especially for the patients who could not move [cardiac berri-berri, amputees, etc.] We had 25 men in the truck including 3 stretcher cases [amputees], and men suffering from terrible tropical ulcers - some almost the size of saucers, and the usual diarrhoea cases and one acute dysentery. Five men died in our truck alone -2amputation cases which I had been nursing, and 2 Englishmen, and 1 Australian - cardiac berri-berri and encephalitis. At times we had to carry - or rather, keep - a body all day, from3a.m. till dark, or till suitable stopping place for burial. Patients had to lie right against the corpse for hours -the smell of one was almost unbearable. But these men who passed away were soon replaced by other sick men from other trucks -and this was often done to all trucks, bringing the average per truck to 27 men. Some trucks had at all times up to 33 men in them. 27 were eventually squashed into our truck.

Nightmare journey - Wood - burning Jap Engine As already mentioned earlier in this diary, these trucks were only 6ft 6" in width and 15ft. in length, so one can then imagine how little room those sick men had to sit down - let alone lie down - during the 5 dark days when these steel trucks were our travelling abode. Is it any wonder that those unfortunate ailing patients succumbed during the nightmare train journey through the sinister Jungle! Our poor patients were jolted and jarred by sudden collisions every time the train stopped. Perhaps very few of the trucks had their Westinghouse air brakes in working order -it seemed so to me - and even as if they had no brakes at all! However, some of the severe banging and jolting was done in starting off again, which makes me think that it was the driving that was faulty. I think a bullock-driver would have made a much easier and efficient job of handling the train. There were usually 3 to 4 crew on the engine. One thing that puzzled me was that - of all places! - they would have a stop on inclines and very steep hills. They would shunt, snort, jolt, and then the engine would give it in under sheer exasperation. The fact being that, using only wood for fuel, the indicated energy delivered to the boiler for making steam was always below par. There appears to be no coal in Thailand or Burma, but no end of wood - which was carted to the line at various stopping places, by dray drawn by Indian cows. The stay on these hills would be anything from 20 minutes to ¾ of an hour to give the much worked over engines time to generate enough steam for the ascent of the remainder of the hill. Then, often, again the snort off was terrible - a jolt forward, some distance backwards, then forwards, jarring those poor wretches with recent amputations and the cries of pain from those were heart rending. Sometimes, if I happened to be attending a patient - - -perhaps changing a stump dressing if we thought the stop to be long enough - I was thrown backwards and only by exercising some skilful balance was I able to avert a collision with other sick men. Unfortunately, because of no convenience and the motion of the jolting truck, Cpt. Wilson, M.O. and I of our truck were not able to attend to our sufferers,. as we would have liked. Only on long stops could dressings be given or changed. Diarrhoea was acute in some cases and convenience was only given by means of 2 or 3 bamboo sections that had been cut off and made into substitute bedpans. On account of lack of water [apart from that for drinking purposes] we had to clean these out as best we could with ashes which my helpers - a couple of willing men - managed to obtain at train stops. It was a great comfort to all concerned, us having such an efficient Doctor as Cpt. Wilson, malaria specialist. Besides, his humour and his friendliness were deeply appreciated. The services of Tom Heathcote I greatly appreciated also. Nothing was too much trouble to him, and he often relieved me by night or day. He is not of the A.A.M.C. and is without hospital experience, but he quickly adapted himself to the immediate job of attending to our unfortunate patients - victims of these recent months of malnutrition and disease. I wish more of his calibre were in the A.A.M.C. Services. Our food en route consisted of rice with, sometimes, a little piece or 2 of dry cured yak meat - too tough to chew, and at other times a piece of highly salted dried fish with the rice. Meal stops were few and far between - about twice in the 24 hours.

Trucks Derailed - Kenyu - I fall off Platform
Sometimes the train would stop for 6 or 8 hours in a Jungle Siding and, as the journey advanced, 1 or 2 trucks were taken off. This meant distributing the sick men throughout the remaining trucks - squeezing one in there and 2 or 3 in here until the 50-odd men were shoved aboard somewhere. On one occasion we came to a very sudden halt in the Jungle, evidently not far from a Camp where some Indians, Tamils and Burmese were working. The train whistle blew loud and long, and we soon found out what the commotion was all about. As I thought, the Japanese engineering of this rail line was a little haywire! [And, of course, our P-O-Ws proved none too intelligent as workers for their Captors the Enemy!] Anyway, whatever the cause, a couple of trucks were derailed. Along came the Natives carrying crowbars and before long the trucks were on the infamous line again. I believe it was on the 29th of November that, after a long tedious day of unpleasant circumstances, the train pulled in at Kenyu Siding [Regimental Camp] at some time after dusk. There was enough light left to have a body removed and the burial carried out by a party camped at Kenyu, There was also a Padre there. It was at this Siding that I had a fall over the platform at 4a.m.. Having pulled in here in the twilight and having needy ones to take up my attention, I had not explored the wooden platform. After we had our tea of rice and a little vegetable stew, we settled the worst of the patients down with an injection ¼-mophia - and 2 or 3 cases orally. I took the first watch of the night from 8p.m and was to call Tom Heathcote at 2a.m.; but, as the sick ones were quiet and mostly sleeping - thank heavens - I thought I would continue till 4a.m. and give Tom a good sleep. I called him at 4a.m. and he took over. I began to prepare the blankets, etc. on the platform where Tom had slept. I waked another couple of feet at the foot of the bedroll to remove the last of my clothing and in an instant I disappeared in the darkness into space. Fortunate for me that there were no large stones or any sharp obstacles at the bottom! The fall was about 11ft. drop as it was . Falling on my front, chest, arms and legs, I received quite a few minor lacerations. Cpt. Wilson examined me but found no ribs broken, although the thorax was very sore and bruised.

1 Day at Kenyu - Sick Parade - Canteen - Swim
When daylight came it revealed to me how fortunate I had been in crawling out of the drop so lightly. We were busy early, for it was said that the train might be here most of the day and that gave us a good opportunity to have a big sick parade, which we did. scores and scores of men receiving attention surgically, and a few medically with the scanty medical supplies that we had. Nevertheless, much relief was given by the two Doctors and a few Nursing Orderlies. There was further loss of life here, too, in our truck. A young Englishman of about 20 years of age died of cardiac berri-berri, thought to be complicated with encephalitis. Two were buried the same morning. There was a canteen here at Kenyu and one could buy a good cup of coffee with some tinned milk, also sugared - at a price. If one had enough money, a tin of biscuits could be bought for $4 - apprx. 4Ib. net [At Bangkok, the same tin could be bought for $1.] This is the first of our coming back to civilization after Jungle life and malnutrition.

Monkeys by the River - Tarso, D Force, 3 Hours
There is a beautiful river at Kenyu and, as the train stayed for many hours, all those who could walk - or most of the walkers - took the opportunity of a grand wash and bathe in the swift waters. I was so thankful for this chance of exterior refreshment, which not one of us had been blessed with for some time. The grime removed, I had a few minutes of swimming - as much as my sore ribs and arms would permit. Because of the dangerous, swift racing current I kept for safety sake close to the shore. I washed some of my clothes here; and then, for a while, I sat and watched the troops of monkeys which were on the opposite shore where they frolicked and gamboled about in the trees and Jungle creepers, and came down to the water's edge and sprang from rock to rock. It gave amusement to me - a sight not ordinary seen, for such a setting could not be found in a Zoological Gardens. It was a playground of reality for them untouched by man; given by the Great Creator through the medium of mother nature who had wisely planned the torrent river of the mountains to skirt and touch in its widening path the very feet of the great green Jungle, providing a scenic and rapturous playground and rendezvous for that type of her children. Their brown bodies could scarcely be detected from the brown rocks they sat on and only while in springing motion could they be clearly distinguished. But leave the Jungle creatures to their own natural elements. It is not meant for white man. I know for my part - God sparing me to leave this world - I would never return again of my own free will for any earthly treasures. After our day at Kenyu, we took off again that night - the 30th of November - and from then on we seemed to cover the country faster and before the afternoon of the next day we pulled in at Tarso - now a rather busy railway loop and lines centre. Here, we saw some men of the forces - especially of D Force, which left Changi many months before F Force. Thank Goodness, they did not have the privations and the rawness of the Northern Jungle of Thailand - nor that 200-mile march which was the cause of undermining the health of thousands of men. We stayed only 2 or 3 hours at Tarso.

December, 1943
Arrival at Kanchanburrai
After our stop at Tarso, we pulled off in the evening of the 1st of December and the jolting trucks rumbled Southward again all night and next day until, at about twilight on the 2nd of December, we pulled into the rough Hospital at Kanchanburrai. This train journey of approximately 200 miles took the painful time of 5 days and 4 nights. We were only given enough time at Kanchanburrai to bindle the sufferers down to the ground - No platform, and scores of men and their belongings had to be got out of the trucks with as much speed as those able could muster. I would say that the time between the stop, and when the whistle blew and trucks pulled off [regardless of whether all sick and their gears were out or not] seemed to be less than 5 minutes. Perhaps it was done in 4 minutes. Then the train fired off with the certain number of men well enough to be taken to another camp some 3 miles away. This other camp we called the 'Death Camp' on our march up - where the Natives charged 5c. for a small bucket of water.

Kanchanburrai Hospital - Lack of Water
We were taken over by some of the A.A.M.C. and R.A.M.C. who were running this hospital at Kanchanburrai and who came up to Thailand with later Forces H and L. This Hospital is used as a staging camp for the sick who are being bought back from the Jungle by train. It was a rough Hospital - not much better in many ways than ours in the Jungle - but the huts were weather-proof from rain, at any rate. The adof leaves on the roof were good and the huts were well constructed by Thailanders. We were put in wards of approximately 100 to a ward. As the staff were rushed, and the Hospital miles under-staffed because of the hundreds of new patients from the North, several of the English Officers jumped into the harness and, for the first night or two until the organisation could provide some nursing orderlies, these officers [British] did an excellent job of humble service waiting on the patients with bedpans and other services. I thought it admirable. I was taken in as a patient - infected scabies and diarrhoea and, to some extent, exhaustion. However, I quickly responded to treatment and rest. The ulcers on my seat soon improved, dressed kindly by my old friend Bob Anderson, in charge of the Dispensary at Kanchanburrai. My mate Allan, was there - both of us endeavouring to pick up strength and condition - and of especial help in this were the few eggs and some oil and brown sugar which he generously bestowed on me from the effects of the sale of his watch. His generosity, and our comradeship I shall never forget. Although this was lower Thailand and there were eggs and other food to be bought - for those who had money - the water situation, both for drinking and well water for washing, was almost out of the question. I think we were given 1½ pints of water per day for drinking, so, apart from wetting my eyes and putting a little over my hands, I was 5 days without a wash. Then Sgt. Robert Anderson of the dispensary, Allan and I, gave us some water in a bucket one day. Though he had used it often as well, because of the great scarcity, we appreciated this as if we had been given a bucket of treasure! How lovely and refreshing it is, when unwashed for many days, to splash the previous water over ones body once again and remove the grime of the wretched past. I was soon at work again here, but was still suffering a reaction of nerves, also severe indigestion. The task of Duty that I was given did much to make me feel worse.

Appalling Death Roll at Kanchanburrai Hospital
There were now thousands of patients at Kanchanburrai and, because of their low condition upon arrival, scores and scores of our men died like flies here every day. The English Padre conducted 3 funeral services per day - 8a.m., 3p.m. and 7.30p.m. I have seen 18 bodies taken away [wrapped in blanket or whatever could be substituted for same] for burial in one day. There was an average of 9 per day. One evening when a young man of our 13th A.G.H. Unit was buried, there were 7 bodies for the 7.30p.m. evening funeral service. There was a Tamil [Indian] Hospital adjacent to ours at Kanchanburrai and every day whilst I was there I would see 4 Tamils with an improvised stretcher - a pole on each shoulder- and the nak ed (nak ed is one word - this word has been changed to stop activation of adult filters in web search engines) forms of 2 dead bodies thereon. They died, poor creatures, in vast numbers - some of berri-berri! But most, at this particular period, of ghastly tropical ulcers and diarrhoea. [When the system is greatly weakened by such ulcers, diarrhoea quickly makes itself manifest.] The Tamils, Indians, Burmese and Chinese were told that if they went North for 3 months to work for the Nippon on the Railway, they would have better food. What a deception for the unfortunate souls! I would say that, counting all nationalities, approx. 15,000 died at Kanchanburrai. We have lost 35 men out of the Medical Units over the past 5 months. The reader should bear in mind that the experiences here written and losses listed over this 5 months are of one camp alone of F Force, of which there were several camps that had very similar experiences and losses - especially those in the vicinity of No. 3 Camp, including the Jungle Hospital at Tambasai in Burma. The estimated death roll among all who were put to work on the construction and maintenance of that cursed railway line from Middle Thailand to Burma - English, Australian, Javanese, and Dutch Prisoners-Of-War, plus Tamils, Indians, Chinese and Burmese - was 100,000 lives lost - 1 for each sleeper.

Depart Kanchanburrai - No Amputees Survive.

Introduction | April 1943 | May 1943 | June 1943 | July 1943 | August 1943 | September 1943
October 1943 | November 1943 | December 1943 | 1944 | Reflections | Image Gallery

© 2004 - 2010 The Family of Pte GBW Skewes