2018 – WW2 Bombs found Chulalongkorn Railway Bridge, Ratchaburi

In late 2018 Thai Authorities undertaking progress works to build a double-track railway bridge across Mae Klong River discovered WW2 bombs in close vicinity of Chulalongkorn Railway Bridge, Ratchaburi. They found a least 7 unexploded bombs.
The search for bombs in the river is necessary to ensure safety during the construction.
During late 1945 the then existing bridge was the target of several Allied bombing raids. The Bridge was an essential part of Japan’s effort to keep the railway operating, hence they sent a working party of POWs to do just that.  The ‘Camp’ was known as Ratchaburi. There were two camps at Ratchaburi, 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.
As was typical planning by the Japanese, 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.

Sometimes the POWs would work on the nearby roads.

‘One of the targets for the Allied airstrikes was Chulalongkorn railway bridge across the Mae Klong river in Ratchaburi’s Muang district.  There were many airstrikes made on the bridge.’
The bridge first came into use in early 1900s. It is named after King Chulalongkorn, grandfather to the current King.  Chulalongkorn abolished slavery and otherwize modernized the country known as Siam. He died in 1910.

The new rail bridge was due to be in use in 2022.