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The POWs were grouped and assigned with various projects. Some were sent to Japan to work in mines and construction sites, some to Saigon docks, while others were, send to work in the airfield construction. Ultimately, the Japanese herded these stray groups of POWs at Thanbyuzayat to start the railway construction work In June 1942; the Imperial Japanese Army's 5th and 9th Railway Regiments initiated the project under their guidance. Moreover, the workforce gradually swelled. During 1942-43, they employed about 60000 people for the job. Alongside, the Burmese Government sent bands of 'Sweat Army' of laborers, originally draftees, to lend hands to construction work.

However, there was not any end to misery. A devastating crop failure followed the surrender of Asians in World War II in Malaya. Consequently, hordes of emaciated plantation workers, mostly of Tamil origin, made a beeline for job at the railway construction sites. What a pittance they compromised for! Only one dollar and a pound of rice for a whole day's hard toil. Even some agreed for a bowl of rice.

Freight steam train



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