Wednesday, 23 April 2008


In the film,the Japanese are portrayed as technologically incompetent ,incapable of building a bridge.Stewart dismisses this as nonsense - the Japanese army had many capable engineers.And he derides the notion of a British officer openly collaborating with the Japanese – his fellow officers would not have stood for it.This collaborationist aspect of the film has caused anguish to many other veterans too. We worked for them ,yes we did , but we did not bend over backwards to help them , they say. The British officer ,Philip Toosey, the senior British officer at Kanchana Buri , was never a collaborator.He even encouraged his men to sabotage the bridge by putting wood-eating white ants into the main structure.

Stewart also says that the prisoners were dying like flies and were often buried close to where they had fallen.Those who died of cholera were instantly cremated , to prevent the spread of the disease.Improvisation was the order of the day .Thus, a grave marked ‘Johnny’ may not necessarily contain the remains of someone called ‘Johnny’ The situation was far more confused and disordered than that, and not at all as neat and tidy as the cemeteries in Kanchana Buri portray it today.