Ratburi, Ratchaburi- Thailand
Ratburi, Ratchaburi- Thailand
Ratburi is a large town on the Singapore-Bangkok railway and about 20-30 miles north of Petchaburi and south-west of Bangkok.
There were two camps here, one on an island in the middle of a river and the other on the Bangkok side of the river about 2 miles distant.
At both camps POWs were operating a ferry service due to the fact that the bridges over the river had been destroyed by Allied air raids. POWs ran a relay service transferring goods from one train to another.
Keith McDonald WX5163 was the only West Australian working on the Island in a group of about 10 Australians. The remainder were Dutch POWs. His words inform us their camp was about 1/2 mile from work. They were subjected to frequent bombing and machine gun attacks from British and American air forces. McDonald received a shrapnel injury during June.
They never saw nor communicated with the second group operating a ferry on the river which is where Tom Pilmoor, Roy Matthews and Bill Castles were working.
At times the men were put to work on road and rail maintenance.
A small group of POWs from Tamuang also arrived in Ratburi February 1945 and were put to work on road and rail maintenance. (It was usually at Tamuang where the Japanese selected fit POWs to work in Japan).
At Ratburi, Petchaburi and Bangkok the POWs were subjected to Allied bombing raids. The men arrived at Nakom Nayok about 7 July 1945 having marched/staggered 45 kms persuaded by bayonets and Japanese boots.
Below: Colin ‘Keith’ McDonald WX5163 identifying Japanese soldiers at Ratburi, accused of cruelty to POWs.
Lt. Shibahara was officer in charge. Known as ‘Blinkey Bill’ as he constantly blinked whether watching or yelling at POWs.
Second in Charge was Corp Ono
Other guards included:
L/Corp Ebata known as ‘Blackout’ – who was violent and had a habit of knocking POWs unconscious.
L/Corp M. Numazawa known as ‘The Rat”
Keith McDonald – he could not recall any POWs dying at Ratburi. The sick/injured were evacuated. (unfortunately our document copy is not complete)
On 2 December 2018, Journalist SAICHOL SRINUALCHAN reported in the Bangkok Post:
SEARCH FOR WW2 BOMBS IN MAE KLONG RIVER
A search for unexploded Allied bombs — the remnants of Second World War Allied airstrikes on the Chulalongkorn railway bridge across the Mae Klong river in this lower Central province. One of the targets for the Allied airstrikes was Chulalongkorn railway bridge across the Mae Klong river in Ratchaburi’s Muang district. Three airstrikes were made on the bridge
The search for bombs in the river is necessary to ensure safety during the construction of the double-track railway
The search covers an area of about 30,000 square metres in the area close to the Thanarat and Chulalongkorn parallel bridges across the Mae Klong river. The area is divided into eight zones.
Seven unexploded bombs were found in the Mae Klong river while piling work was being carried out for the construction of a double-track railway between Nakhon Pathom province and Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin District