We Gave Our Today For Your To-Morrow

Brigid, our 14-year-old, Bel­la, and I spent two hours on a local bus to Kan­chanaburi today, to the North West of Bangkok, to vis­it the site of the famous Riv­er Kwai bridge, as mythol­o­gized, not alto­geth­er accu­rate­ly in the 1957 movie.

For all the tack­i­ness of the sur­round­ings of the actu­al bridge, which sits amongst count­less sou­venir stalls, peo­ple with very sad look­ing tigers and leop­ards (100 baht to sit next to them for a pho­to, poor bloody things), it is some­thing hum­bling to see. The most bizarre part of it was a young, quite clear­ly Japan­ese, girl, sell­ing “Death Rail­way” post­cards. Odd.

In the cen­tre of the town sits Kan­chanaburi Ceme­tery, where many, just under 7,000, of those who died on the Death Rail­way are interred (or at least the Com­mon­wealth dead – the graves of some 270,000 Asian forced labour­ers are most­ly unknown).

And you won­der again, despite every­thing you have read and seen on screen and paper, when con­front­ed with the awful real­i­ty of it all, about the hor­ror and point­less­ness of what humans, most­ly men, do to each oth­er, cen­tu­ry after cen­tu­ry.

Noth­ing I could write here could express more than the images below, and most espe­cial­ly, some of the very sad and poignant mes­sages from home on the grave mark­ers:

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