The building of the Siam-Burma Railway

Frank McVey recently shared the fascinating story of the Siam-Burma Railway over in the Google Earth Community. The railway was built during World War II, as an effort to help connect the railway systems of Singapore, Malaya, Siam and Burma.

siam-burma railway

Frank’s full post goes into great detail about the railway, including a variety of maps and images related to the planning, construction and use of it:

In the end, the railway was built in 16 months – between June 1942 and October 1943 – by virtually-unaided human muscle power and became perhaps the greatest engineering feat of the Second World War. However, the fears of the earlier British surveyors were realised; through accident, disease, malnutrition, over-work, incompetent logistics, theft of Red Cross supplies by the Japanese guards, criminal neglect and extreme brutality by the Japanese guards and engineers and their even more brutal Korean overseers, some 16,000 POWs and 120,000 native labourers died in its construction: they say that a man died for every sleeper (cross-tie) laid. Thousands of those who survived returned home as ruined men; many of them suffered life-long mental and physical incapacitation. Some of them – now very old men – are still suffering.

In addition, he’s constructed a detailed KMZ file that shows the path of the railway in Google Earth. Be sure to check out his full post to see everything that he put into it.

Great work, Frank!

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. John Desousa says:

    A world of wonder that I wish I could live, or “shoo” death away for a litle while longer to enjoy it , to enjoy what GOOGLE HAS.

Leave a Reply