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Photographer's Note

The Bridge on the River Kwai is now the best known site on the Thai-Burma railway but its fame is due more to a fictional film than its significance in World War II.

Spanning the River Kwae Yai in Kanchanaburi the bridge was built in 1942-43 by British prisoners of war. This was the only steel bridge built by the Japanese in Thailand. One hundred meters downstream there was a second bridge during World War II. This was a wooden bridge which could carry light diesel rail trucks transporting construction materials while the main bridge was being built. Both bridges were regularly bombed by Allied aircrafts from December 1944 to June 1945. Several span of the steel bridge were destroyed. The worst attack on 29 November 1944 killed nineteen prisoners and wounded sixty-eight. A further fifteen prisoners were injured on 5 February 1945. The Japanese then evacuated the prisoners to Chungkai further downstream. The fame of the bridge is due to the 1957 film by David Lean, The Bridge on the River Kwai. The bridge in the film also looks nothing like the steel bridge at Kanchanaburi. However, the film was such an international success-it won seven Oscars-that tourists came flocking to Thailand searching for "The Bridge on the River Kwai".

The bridge on the River Kwai is now a major tourist attraction and the hub of intense commercial activity.

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Additional Photos by Zbigniew Kalinowski (fotka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 467 W: 9 N: 1072] (5243)
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