to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead

17k. River Kwai Bridge

First the wood and bamboo bridge then the iron span that was looted from Java, these spanned the Mae Klong River just to the northwest of the walled city of Kanchanaburi. Each of them was damaged and repaired over the course of months of Allied bombing, until they were finally destroyed beyond repair in JUN 45 and the operation of the TBR ceased.

Of course, there never was a Bridge on the River Kwai, because there was never a River Kwai.

When in the 1960s, tourists began arriving in Kanchanaburi looking for The Bridge over the River Kwia, the locals were somewhat perplexed in that there is no such river. The main raiver has always been named the Mae Klong (not to be confused with the MeKong that forms the border with Laos). Near the ancient walled city of Kanchanaburi, the smaller Kwai Noi River joins the Mae Klong which then wends its way to the Gulf of Siam just south of Bangkok.

Partly to appease those seeking the bridge and river of novel and movie fame, the Thai Government officially renamed the river west of the intersection of the two tributaries as the Kwai Yai (translated as large tributary). After their joining the original name Mae Klong was retained.


With apologies to William Holden, despite the fiction of the novel, No US POWs were directly involved in the construction of the famous Bridge. The single exception was that a CAPT Pomeroy (see Sect 3d.9) was a US citizen serving in the Indian Army and was on LtCol Toosey’s staff.

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