Posted by: Johan Normark | February 1, 2010

Bridge on the River Kwai

The last time we went to Thailand (2006) my wife and I visited the town of Kanchanaburi (กาญจนบุรี). It is located where the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai rivers converge and form the Mae Klong river. The area fell into Japanese control during WWII and they let Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war (pow) construct the Burma-Siam Railway to support the large Japanese army in Burma. 80,000-100,000 civilians and 13,000 pow’s died and were buried along the railway. Part of this project was the now famous Bridge on the River Kwai at Tha Ma Kham, five km from Kanchanaburi. It was built in 1943.

The movie with the same name was shot in 1957 and is largely fictional, particularly the destruction of the bridge (the one in the movie was constructed in Sri Lanka). Two bridges were actually built, a temporary wooden bridge and a permanent steel/concrete bridge sometime later. They were used for two years and were destroyed by Allied aerial bombing. The steel bridge was repaired and it is the one still in use. I guess the most memorable part of that movie is the Colonel Bogey March.



  1. Hi Johan – I like your blog. The Bridge on the River Kwai is one of my favourite films and I have seen it many times.

    My great uncle was a Royal Air Force POW and died in a Japanese camp on Ambon Island, Indonesia.


  2. I have seen the movie twice and it is OK if one ignore the colonial touch of it.


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