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Hashimoto, Kazunori (2022) Constructing the Burma-Thailand Railway: The War Crimes Trials and the Shaping of an Episode of WWII. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The history of the Burma-Thailand Railway has been constructed on the basis of ex-POWs' perceptions. Numerous memoirs and literature have been published by ex-POWs and shaped popular history. Nevertheless, officer POWs' account has been most influential owing to their duty to produce official reports for the army authorities and evidence for the war crimes trials. The findings of the trials, reported sensationally by the press, influenced the public image of the railway and the POWsʼ plight. Accordingly, the experience of the most tragic POWs, F Force, has become the standard in describing various POWsʼ experiences on the railway. Notably, Colonel Cyril Wild, a former F Force officer and a war crimes investigator, played a crucial role to consolidate this ʻatrocityʼ effect. Besides, the POWs' version of events did not reflect the perspectives of the IJA's railway engineers and camp personnel. As the POWs had different viewpoints according to the rank and the unit, so did the Japanese. Inside the IJA, there were frictions between the Imperial Headquarters and the Railway Corps; also, the railway engineers and POW camp staff. Thus, this thesis focuses on differences not only between the enemies but also among the friends on the same side. Particularly, on the POWsʼ side, gaps were conspicuous between officers and other ranks. Furthermore, among the officers, medical officers had different views from combatant officers, and those with civilian experience were more flexible than career officers. Besides, the British and the Australians behaved quite differently from each other. This thesis explores how the railwayʼs history was formed among the various groups and how other perspectivesʼ inclusion changes this history.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Michael Charney
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2022 16:26

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