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Experiences of POW's During WW11 in the Pacific: Burma

Year 10 History

Year 10 History

The content in the resource may be confronting to users. Please consult your teacher before viewing. 

Finding Resources in Accessit

Here are some resources that you may find useful during your studies.  Search the Bennies catalogue Accessit for more, or browse the Non-fiction collection NFS.


National Museum of Australia


From October 1942 to October 1943 the Japanese army forced about 60,000 Allied prisoners of war (POWs) – including 13,000 Australians and roughly 200,000 civilians, mostly Burmese and Malayans – to build a railway linking Thailand and Burma.

Burma Work Camps



Historical footage. Burma (Myanmar). 1943. Australians and Allied forces fight against the Japanese in Burma (Myanmar). 1 January, 1943. Burmese and Australian troops fight Japanese snipers. 22 April, 1943. RAF and RAAF harass and bomb Japanese entrenchments.

The true story of the forced construction of the infamous Thai-Burma Railway by prisoners of war during World War 2. 100,000 men died of disease, starvation or were beaten to death by the Japanese and Korean guards.

Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop was a surgeon in the Australian Army whose acts of courage and selflessness are legendary, captured by the Japanese he was made Head of Medical Services for Prisoners working on the infamous Thai-Burma Railway.


This interview is part of DVA's ongoing Veterans' Stories project.

The 3-nine-39 radio and video series tells the untold stories of veterans, widows and family members from the Second World War.

Tom Uren speaks here of his mate, Bill Halliday, on the Thai–Burma railway, and how mateship changed them both.


In all, 9,500 Australian prisoners of war worked on the construction of the Burma-Thailand Railway, which ran from Bampong, Thailand, to Thanbyuzayat, Burma . Building commenced at each end of the railway. Altogether, 2,815 Australians died working on the railway.


Although known officially as the Thailand-Burma Railway, the nickname “Death Railway” was adopted due to the high death tolls of POWs and Asian laborers in constructing the war-time infrastructure. Though records vary depending on statistical sources, approximately 14,000 Allied POWs and 90,000 Asian laborers lost their lives either due to horrific work conditions, starvation, vitamin deficiency, malaria, or dengue fever.

Department of Veterans Affairs

Since 1945 prisoners of war and the Burma-Thailand railway have come to occupy a central place in Australia's national memory of World War II.


Burma Railway, railway built during World War II connecting Bangkok and Moulmein (now Mawlamyine), Burma (Myanmar). The rail line was built along the Khwae Noi (Kwai) River valley to support the Japanese armed forces during the Burma Campaign