Members of the US Merchant Mariners were truly the forgotten members of the US POW contingent, some of whom also worked the TBR at the Hintok area.
Beyond to the famous bridge, there are two somewhat less recognized portions of the Death Railway: The WangPo viaduct and Hellfire Pass. The former is still in use by the train that departs the River Kwai Station for NamTok. The latter is a bit farther west (about 80 Km from the Bridge) and has a Memorial Museum operated by the Australian gov’t. The Pass itself is accessed via a massive set of stairs. It is possible to do a multi-hour trek along the former path of the railway. (see URL below for a tour)
Although Hellfire Pass itself was worked mainly by Aussie POWs, The H Force based at Hintok was the home of a small group of the American POWs. These consisted of 7 Merchant Mariners who survived the sinking of the SS Sawolka freighter and a few of the TXNG 131 members who had initially been left behind in Singapore due to illness as the main body of the 131 was transported to Burma.
I am only aware of one survivor account that addresses the plight of the Mariners: DEATH’S RAILWAY by Gerald Reminick. He relates that the US POWs worked on what became termed the “Pack of Cards” bridge/ trestle. So named because it collapsed a number of times during its construction. It was dismantled after the war and at present there are no known photos of that section of the railway.
Follow these URLs to learn more about their stories:
Merchant Marine rosters and story:
AMERICAN LEADER :
Another companion story is that of the SS RICHARD HOVEY:
Here are the names of the Merchant Mariners and US NAVY crew of Merchant Marine ships related to this saga:MM-only-2