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    Also Known:-

Kao Poon











Railway Line - 10b





Railway Line - Green 30b 
















9th Railway Regiment










II Group

Oct 42 - Sep 44




II Group

Mar 43 - Nov 44












A work camp then one of the main hospital camps for Thailand POWs, now the site of a War Cemetery.

Chungkai-Hospital Scene-1943 - 4tb

Hospital Scene Chungkai 1943

by W.C. Wilder

The centre of the camp was the Japanese Camp Office, H.Q. hut built in the shade of six very large trees. Lieut-Colonel Yanagida was in charge, he was a small ugly man who stood on a box when he addressed the prisoners and wore lavender coloured gloves but he was decent to the prisoners.

The camp grew from seven to twenty atap huts and included a hospital. It was shaded by the trees and had no fence, paths led from it to the surrounding villages although visiting them was forbidden.

The camp below, Tamarken. pushed the railway to Chungkai, whilst the prisoners at Chungkai worked on the line north to Wun Lun. This was through common land with bamboo thickets.

Group II worked on the bridges at Tamarkan, Chungkai being their H.Q. Chungkai was about four kilometres away from Tamarkan. As well as the six large trees which gave shade, there were also clumps of bamboo and groups of mango trees and small forests on the hill slopes.

Two Japanese Engineer Officers were in charge of the work on the railway, Taramoto and Keriama. Instructions for the days work was given by these two and a guard was then in charge to make sure it was carried out. The British officer looked after the welfare of his men and tried to get as many “Yasmes” as possible. A typical day went as follows:

Up at daybreak, had rice breakfast, walked the about a half a mile and paraded outside the Japanese tool shed. Collected tools of metre measuring sticks, changkuls, picks, spades, baskets and stretchers (for carrying the earth). Then walked to the railway trace, where a thirty yard across stretch of jungle had been cleared by earlier prisoners.

The embankment ran along the centre of this clearing and the Japanese had put a bamboo stake structure to get the proposed embankment height right, this varied between four to twenty feet. The days work load was to  build the embankment, this was made by splitting the men into three groups. One third of the prisoners dug out the earth each side of the railway trace and put the earth in the baskets or on the stretchers. The next group carried the earth to the embankment where the earth was off-loaded. The final group spread and trimmed the earth into the embankment shape. Every metre of height had a strip of grass planted, to hold the embankment together.

The two Japanese Engineers had a habit of losing their tempers, Taramoto was the senior and spoke good English but he seemed to hate the prisoners. Keriama had quick moods and would hit out at anything close by, including the prisoners. There was another Japanese officer, Nobasawa,  in charge of the medical section, he was known as “The Horse Doctor”, all these three could overrule the Camp Commander Yanagida.

Chungkai Base Hospital Camp-Chalker, Jack

Chungkai Base Hospital Camp

by Jack Chalker

The photo is available from

The hospital consisted of two long atap huts and an atap operating theatre. The illness varied, from scabies to malaria, the bamboo bed shelf was full of bugs and lice as there was no disinfectants. Treatment for all forms of dysentery was salts and starvation for three days on tea and then a further two days on fluids only.

The Japanese issued news in the form of the ‘Bangkok Chronicle’ which of course was very biased. Every day a news bulletin was also given from the secret wireless.

c. 1945. Wireless or radio set concealed inside a water bottle that NX34734 Captain Reginald W. J. (`Roaring Reggie') Newton carried from 1942 to August 1945

Wireless concealed inside a water bottle that NX34734 Captain Reginald W. J. (`Roaring Reggie') Newton carried from 1942 to August 1945

Taken 1945

The photo is available from

A wireless was built in every camp Group II were at, till June 1945, the first being constructed in Banpong. In Chungkai one was constructed in a water bottle, another in a cylindrical cigarette tin and another in a flat biscuit tin.  The batteries for the wireless were obtained from the Thai canteen owner, Boon Pong, he had a business in Kamburi. The canteen was controlled by Pong but was under the Japanese, who took the profits. The canteen had two managers one being 'Grey Nob', who had a curious husky voice, he was the chief cook, he also ran a black market.

The sick from the camps further up country started arriving at Chungkai and the hospital started to take over the camp, leaving three out of the twenty huts for fit prisoners. Even the atap church had prisoners sleeping on the floor. Diphtheria hit the camp and even the tropical ulcers were infected with it. The treatment was simple, laying for at least two to three weeks flat on the back, moving as little as possible, a serum was administered from a recovered patient, with no visitors, this was to stop heart strain and certain death from it.

Chungkai was always rated by Group II as the best camp in Thailand. This was the first and oldest of the Group II camps. It had a stale or earthy smell and there was not much space for bathing at the river. The Thais had told the Japanese that the camp flooded every year at monsoon, in 1944 it flooded twice. The camp lay on the river bank with a tributary run at the rear, this flooded first, flooding the bottom half and this slowly crept up till the bottom half of the main row of huts was under water, the football field became a lake and the latrines disappeared under the water. Two days later the Mae Klong River flooded and this would go straight into the camp, washing out the cookhouse, canteen and huts next to it. Swimmers would go upstream and steer large trees being washed down stream into the camp for the cookhouse fires. When the flood was at its worse only two acres of the camp was dry.


The Chungkai Theatre

The cast of the entertainment Wonder Bar

The photo is available from

Thai boats darted about the camp tying up near the theatre, where many bathed in the deep pool made by the auditorium. The floods usually lasted a week and a foul smell lasted way after this.

The Mess Officer was on his way to the cookhouse early one morning heard a hissing sound, seeing meat for the pot he grabbed a bamboo stick and gave chase. Dead snake in hand he entered the cookhouse to be told by the Malayan planters it was a Hammadryad - King Cobra. It is one of the deadliest snakes in the world and has the reputation of attacking men. It was eleven feet eight inches and made into steaks in the cookhouse.

By the middle of 1944, eggs, oil, rice, vegetables and fruit had risen from 200 to 400%. The Chungkai - Kamburi area was under Allied Air Force surveillance. Raids were being carried out on the Tamarkan Bridges, some prisoners were killed in one of these raids, and the wooden bridge had to be repaired afterwards.

The camp turned for the worse when Colonel Yanagida went to command Nakom Paton Base Hospital and Colonel Ishi took over as Group commander. He had a idiotic grin with a high pitched laugh, he would work himself into a frenzy and lash out at anything near by. Kokubu was his Camp Commander, he was always drunk and hated the officers, he also hated the Koreans. Once he went berserk with his sword and attacked his own men, he was a hard man and a judo expert.

With these two bad Japs in charge of the camp the other Japs followed suit, one Korean private broke two officers jaws within a week.

By now the Tamarkan bridges were constantly bombed along with Kamburi Supply Camp and the Nom Pladuk sidings, there were a good 100 casualties amongst the prisoners. The planes would go in low over Chungkai camp, so low their markings could be seen, and cover the 4 kilometres to Tamarkan in seconds and the explosions were then heard. Eventually both bridges were put out of action.

Information from Railway of Death by John Coast



Arriving at Chun Kai on the 1st November 1942, we remained there for seven days. Chun Kai had a double purpose whilst we were there. Firstly it had a large workcamp and the men worked on the bridge and constructed the railway line to Wun Lun, secondly it was a transit camp for those moving further up the line.

The accommodation was overcrowded, so we camped down on a site overlooking the river, we had no cover. During the days we were there we did some general labouring, the mosquitos caused problems at night, pulling our blankets up to cover our faces. The night before we left for Wun Lun it rained heavily and we lay in puddles till the morning. We left Chun Kai on the 22nd November 1942, marching to Wun Lun.

Information from Unknown to the Emperor by J.R. Hill


Chunghai Cath Church-Chalker, Jack

Chungkai Catholic Church

by Jack Chalker

The photo is available from



"This camp was a sort of way station where so far 5,000 POWs had spent time and where sick men were sent from the camps and back to the railroad after healing. It was led by a Jap commander who used to be a businessman. He had been drafted as sergeant major in the Army, and since he was not found suitable to be a warrior, he was made POW administrator. His English was good and the story went that he had a son studying in America when the war broke out who stayed there and became an American military pilot. I don't know whether that had anything to do with his behavior towards the POWs because he was not a brute. I do know that he hated the Koreans and acted very abusively towards the Korean guards whom he would beat heartily, especially in the evening when he was drunk. He drank like a fish. The head of the foraging detail in this camp was an English major named Bill Peacock, a fantastic guy who also loved to drink. And because he was akin to the camp commander in that way, got a lot accomplished. Compared to other camps on the railroad, the food was therefore pretty good."


Excerpt translated by Margie Samethini-Bellamy




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