Monday, August 10, 2009

I met with a historical man

I was assigned to fetch this patient to Hospis the other day.
Along the journey from his house to Hospis, he told me about his history.
I was like, wow~~! I bumped into a historical man!!!

(See the photo above)
His name is Mr. Loke.
He is 85 years old!
And he was one of the many labourers who built the death railway in Kanchanaburi~~!!!!

When he told me: Do You know the death railway on River Kwai?
Me: Yeah~~~ I had been wanted to visit it.
Mr. Loke: I was one of the many who built it.
Me:! Why did you want to work there? Better money?

hahahah...... so silly la me~~!!!

I thought he wanted to "jump aeroplane" and earn good money~~!!!

He replied: Not I wanted to work there! The Japanese soldiers caught us to work there~~!!!
He: all the healthy teenagers were sent there to build the bridge.
He: That time Japanese wanted to attack India, but they cannot use the sea-route, because on the sea, they got no where to hide, the British will sure be able to bomb them.
He: Therefore, the Japanese think of building the railway to connect Thailand and Burma, and then from Burma, they can enter India and attack that country.

It was so tough to build the railway track, because everyday at 1pm, the British warplane will fly to Kanchanaburi and drop bombs to break the bridge.

When the planes come, all these labourers and POW (prison of war) will have to hide in the thick jungle, so that they will not get bomb.

After the bomb over at around 6pm, they have to quickly climb down to the valley and collect back all the woods, so that they can continue to build the bridge and the railway track.

So many Mat Salleh were being caught and sent there to build the railway too.

They are all prisons of war....

Even if they are sick, having high fever or terrible cough, they still have to work.
No MC, no rest day ....

The Japanese everyday will patrol around, checking who was lazying.
If they found anyone not doing their work, surely the ass will get hot and spicy treatment.

Mr. Loke was telling me how much he had gone through during that three-and-a-half years.
He said there was always repair work to be done as the British fighter planes from India had bombed bridges and railway stations along the Siam-Burmese border. They had to work under the scorching sun to repair the damaged tracks.

The workers also had to go down the river to remove the wooden beams of the bridges that had been bombed, to enable new structures to be erected. It was exhausting work. They had to work late into the night. Though they were exhausted, they had to keep working, otherwise the soldiers would beat them with sticks. Many workers fell ill and died. Each camp had 500 to 600 workers, but the number dwindled as the workers succumbed to malaria and dysentery. However, new workers were brought in to join them.

After the war was over, he still could not go home yet, because all the railway tracks were damaged!
They had to spend months to repair the railway, so that the train can come to their camp and pick them up.

Then Mr. Loke was sent to Bangkok, and waited there for 7 months, for the ship to come and send all of them to Singapore.

It was a long journey home.... When he told me finally he manage to board a ship, and reached Singapore, he still cannot go home yet.... The government quarantine them for one week, then only allow them to take train home.

When I hear until the part that he managed to take a train home, the government some more gave them $5 each, I cried~~!!
I felt the feeling of being home... It is so nice to be home....

It's a touching story...
We are so fortunate to live in a peaceful day.
But yet let all the human problem bother us.
Friends don't "friend" us la... office politics la... parents problem la ...
It all looks so small matter now....

(More info and photos can be found at:


the happy go lucky one said...

thanks for the sharing... yeah look at him, i feel like so tiny liao, i was wailing for petty problems without realising so many blessings i have been enjoying! really need this kinda real life story to remind myself to b thankful with what im enjoying :)

Superman said...

Hope the world will be in PEACE all the time! No more wars!

A Common Singaporean said...

I hope the world will never have to see another world war. I hope the lessons have taught everyone well. It only takes one crazy guy to start a war, just one powerful guy gila enough to cause disaster, and to torture man like Mr Loke.

Thanks for sharing the story. We are indeed living in fortunate times.

eugene said...

River Kwai was one of those darkest history moments that those inflicted and survived will never forget.

I am amazed after so much pain and hard work, Mr loke at 85 still looks so good,that means we need more activity rather than being sedentary,dont you think so?

Gratitude said...

I would clingon tightly to Mr. Loke, coz wonderful peeps like him wld have so many experiences to share. Totally agree with you that we are blessed. Many young kids nowadays know no such thing as hardship.

TZ said...

The story is so touching and you are so honor to meet a person that tell you the story...

Unseen Rajasthan said...

This is so an interesting post..I really love when people share their experience and it motivates me really when they express it with feelings..Loved this post..I am now your follower as i really appreciate such post..Unseen Rajasthan

Rad Sujanto said...

Is that you in that first picture?

wow, those pictures of ang mo look horrible. so skinny and badly treated.

is the death railway far from where you live?

[SK] said...

i went to Kanchanaburi 2 years ago.. this was a nice story Mr Loke is sharing, i didn't really know the story behind.. just busy taking photos on the railway, because i just know it's a famous one.. :p

Bengbeng said...

wow.. it is a rare honor indeed to meet this historical person

thomas said...

thnx 4 d sharing,ya we should appreaciate that we born and live in this peaceful country at this time....

foongpc said...

Wow! You are lucky to meet that historical man! And listened to his story first hand!

Yes after reading this, I do feel that all the problems we face daily are rather insignificant.

Johnny Ong said...

wow, what a story u have here.