Pieced together in 1977 by the abbot of Wat Chaichumpon, the JEATH War Museum was among the first in Kanchanaburi to recount the atrocities of the Death Railway and honour the Allied POWs who toiled on it—four decades later, its collection of paintings and photographs is as moving as ever.
The acronym JEATH stands for Japan, England, Australia, America, Thailand and Holland, highlighting some of the nations whose citizens were captors, captives or hosts during the 1942-43 construction of the Death Railway.
A series of several dozen images, many in very poor condition unfortunately, are displayed on platforms beneath thatch roofs in a primitive structure, intended to recreate the shelters that POWs slept in.
Decades-old photos show actual emaciated prisoners wearing loincloths and toiling with pick axes or lying on bamboo platforms, too weak to move. One painting shows a prisoner asking to receive the ration of a pale man lying next to him; the caption reads: "Let me have his, he's dead!" Contrasting images like these are photos of well-fed Japanese soldiers taken in Kanchanaburi town.
After perusing the museum you could stroll over to neighbouring Wat Chaichumphon to see beautiful teakwood wihaans, the remains of an ancient wooden boat accompanied by a shrine to a feminine spirit, and a “magic ship” fronted by an enormous horse statue—kids will love climbing on it. A longtail boat pier and riverside walkway are also found here.
How to get there
JEATH War Museum is located on Pak Prak Road towards the south end of town and can be reached on foot, by bicycle or as part of a longtail boat tour.
By David Luekens.
Last updated on 10th February, 2017.
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