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Title:NEW RAILWAY BRIDGE FOR SIAM BUILT BY INDIAN ENGINEERS AND JAPANESE LABOUR [Allocated Title]
Film Number:JFU 613
Other titles:BRITISH ARMY OPERATIONS IN SOUTH EAST ASIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR [Allocated Series Title]
Summary: At Ban Dara in Siam (Thailand) 319 Railway Bridging Company of the Royal Indian Engineers construct a new railway bridge over the Chao Phraya river, using the labour of interned Japanese troops.
Description: Two Japanese soldiers operating a hand crank winch with another supervising. Bridge structure being rolled out. Close-up of wheels rolling. A side girder is positioned. Wide shot of the river and bridge with men in silhouette on top. View from the front of a train. Labourers at work on the track (poor light makes this unclear). Japanese labourers using an A-frame to lift a bridge component; Lieutenant Jones of Royal Engineers supervises proceedings. Jones speaks with the Japanese commander. Japanese troops carry a Bailey bridging section along the bridge. High shot panning over the river to the wreckage of the original bridge, destroyed by Allied bombing. Shots of twisted metal and broken spans. A set of railway points. Railway carriages at Bangkok railway station, some damaged. Engine shed missing its roof. Interior engine shed. Office building missing all its window panes.
Technical Details: Format: 35mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 1
Footage: 400 ft; Running time: 5 mins
Notes: Although Thailand had not strictly been at war with the Allies, they were occupied by the Japanese and their transport network used to supply their forces in Malaya and Burma. As a result, railway targets were extensively attacked by Allied heavy bombers. Reconstruction work such as this was an important part of the rehabilitation of the economy in South East Asia, which had been wrecked by years of fighting.
To a British viewer, this film is perhaps difficult to watch without drawing comparisons with British prisoners' labours on Thai railways whilst in Japanese captivity.