Takanun was a large Thai town, with shops, Police Station and the dwellings had gardens in which limes and pameloes grew. It was connected to the nearby Wolfram Mines by a good road. Going north along the road, the river lay to the left and well below. The railway trace was to the right and where the river and road twisted the trace went straight through, jungle, hills and gullies. On the other side of the river lay jungle and high craggy limestone hills and on the right of the railway line lay high hills with forest.
The prisoners camps started three kilometres further north. The hills from the town to the camp were as steep as one in three and crested by bamboo and forest. The railway trace was cut out of these hills and the gullies were bridged with bamboo lattice work constructions. Takanun had a few camps along the railway trace and were named by the distance from Nong Pladuk, the town was 200km, hence so the camps started at Camp 203. Camp 206 was Group H.Q where Colonel Yanagida was again in command.
Camp 203 was covered in a layer of dust, and separated from the river by a row of high trees. Then Lieutenant Ino´s, the Japanese commander, wooden house was in the shade of these trees with the Japanese guards tents in a neat row, the tents were erected on wooden bases and each had matting. The Japanese cookhouse was situated between the prisoners camp and guards camp with a large vegetable garden. A Thai house with small garden bordered another side of the camp, this was built above the ground and housed two canoes beneath it.
About 1200 prisoners occupied the dusty, sloping ground made up of poor tents that housed about half of them the rest slept in the open. This was better then the other camps at Takanun as some had no tents at all. The river had a deep pool with a sandy beach, the prisoners used this for bathing and washing cloths.
Lieutenant Ino was reputed to be a good commander by the prisoners and always had a good camp wherever he went in Thailand, he seemed more interested in reading then building the railway. Before “Speedo” the officers were only allowed to work only on the garden.
A typical working day starts with reveille, a series of pips on a whistle at 6.30am when it was still dark, breakfast at 7am and parade at 8.15am, the Japanese engineers take the parties to collect the tools at 9am. The prisoners stand in ranks of five with old hats, three or four days growth of beard, all very thin with swollen bellies, various diseases are apparent, skin, dermatitis and ringworm causing large patches on their bodies. The monsoon season has started, (from May and lasted for four and a half months), and the working conditions had deteriorated conciderably. A thick mist slowly rises out of the jungle on either side of the camp, topping the trees, during the morning it will disappear. All round the camp the Wak Waks are whistling. After redrawing the tools from the engineers shed, the prisoners walk to the embankment. They put their personal gear under logs out of the rain and are put to work. The bridge is the hardest work of all, hauling on ropes, whilst others on the bridge manhandle large uprights into position. After two hours there is a ten minute “Yasme” for tea. At 12.30 the ration carriers go back to the camp for the rice and from 1pm to 2.30pm the men sit at the edge of the jungle trying to rest , eat and keep out of the rain. Then back to work till 6.30pm when the engineers check the tools and take the prisoners back to the camp. The prisoners then take to the river to bath, rice and rissole is at 7.30pm, then they lie on their beds listening to the rain, by 8.30pm it is dark and another day has been survived.
When Cholera struck at Camp 206, the river was put out of bounds, in two weeks out of 50 cases, thirty prisoners had died. The bodies were burnt at night and their ashes put into a communal grave. The prisoners at Camp 203 were then given their first anti cholera injections, but then cholera hit the camp but not as bad as Camp 206, where in six weeks there were 200 deaths. As the workforce was hit hard the Japanese brought in thousands of Asiatics, Tamils, Javanese, Malays and Chinese. After the monsoon season the conditions improved and in January the weather was ideal for bathing.
When this section was finished the prisoners were moved further up country and Camp 206 was made into a hospital with atap huts as the wards.
Information from Railway of Death by John Coast