Priscilla Kibbee

I love to travel all over the globe shopping for textiles to add to my wearable art. I have taught quilting to school children in Nepal, seminole patchwork to seamstresses in Thailand, and jackets and embellishment to quilters in Turkey where I also served as a judge at 2 of their International Quilt Shows. I have created garments for 5 Fairfield and Bernina Fashion Shows and teach classes on embellishment and wearable art. Lately I have been leaning more toward making art quilts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hellfire Pass Museum

Hellfire Pass is the name of a railway cutting on the Death Railway in Thailand, known by the Japanese as Konyu cutting. Work by torchlight at night by Allied POW's gave the pass its name. Here is a model of one of the large number of trestles built along the railway.

The Museum was co-sponsored by the Thai and Australian Governments.

The Konyu cutting was a particularly difficult section of the line to build due to it being the largest rock cutting on the railway, coupled with its general remoteness and the lack of proper construction tools during building. A tunnel would have been possible to build instead of a cutting, but this could only be constructed at the two ends at any one time, whereas the cutting could be constructed at all points simultaneously despite the excess effort required by the POWs. The Australian, British, Dutch and other allied Prisoners of War were required by the Japanese to work 18 hours a day to complete the cutting. Sixty nine men were beaten to death by Japanese and Korean guards in the six weeks it took to build the cutting, and many more died from cholera, dysentery , starvation and exhaustion. However, the majority of deaths occurred amongst labourers whom the Japanese enticed to come to help build the line with promises of good jobs. These labourers, mostly Malayans (Chinese, Malays and Tamils from Malaya), suffered mostly the same as the POWs at the hands of the Japanese. The Japanese kept no records of these deaths.

Route of the railway.

Photo of a prisoner upon release at the end of the war.

One of the many trestles.

I had wanted to visit Hellfire Pass for several years since I heard about the Museum opening. Unfortunately we were only allowed 45 minutes there. And since the pass is straight down and about a mile away from the museum this wasn't possible. It took almost that long just to go through the museum which was very moving. I will just have to go again on another visit...this time not with a tour. After this visit it was back to the floating hotel for a delicious lunch. This dish was full of delicious cooked squash.

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