The Young Marines of Pattaya (YMP) participated in a three day and two nights organized unit trip (OUT) to Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai in August.
The first day was spent getting to Hin Tok River Camp. This was a Japanese prisoner of war camp for British soldiers during World War II. The unit had an excellent lunch over looking the River Kwai, received a historical briefing about the camp and the local area by the camp’s manager, and then moved into their tents. These were no ordinary tents. They were built up on raised wooden decks and had all the comforts of a lavish hotel room, large comfortable beds, air conditioning, showers with hot water and even a porch with tables and chairs.
Young Marines billeting at Hin Tok River Camp.
After getting settled in, the unit conducted recons of the area. The camp has a swimming pool located near its dock on the River Kwai. The pool is fed by a small natural stream coming down from near the camp, and the pool overflows into the Kwai. About a click north of this camp, during WWII was a camp that held Dutch POWs. But, the Young Marines did not find any signs of it.
The unit then started a hump to Hellfire Pass. About 2km west of Hin Tok Camp, they took a detour to a foot & biking suspension bridge that crosses the North Kwai River, and led to a temple.
Suspension Bridge over the North River Kwai. Left to Right: Unit Commander Rad, PFC Bret & leader Nok Mays.
Back tracking, the Young Marines then continued to Hellfire Pass. Humping another 3km and up a steep grade, they reached the south entrance to Hellfire Pass. The Australian’s POW camp was above Hellfire Pass. The next 3km of the Thai Burma Railway route would take them through six cutting and six former trestle bridge sites stopping at Hin Tok road. Here, the Young Marines had planned on crossing the road and continuing on the railway route. At this point they were less than 1.5km from their camp at Hin Tok. But, this section is on Royal Thai Army land, and has been fenced off and posted with “Area Closed” signs by order of the Army Division’s Commanding Officer. This meant that they would not get to see the “Double Track” or the site of the “Pack of Cards” bridge and instead of 1.5km walk; they had to hump 5.5km back to their camp. Well, all the Young Marines completed the day’s 15km back to camp, cleaned up and made the outstanding BBQ at 1900 hours.
Young Marines leader Jim Coomes in Hellfire Pass.
The next morning the Young Marines were up and eating by 0730. After another excellent meal, they moved out, via the YMP vehicle, to the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum. This was the location of an Australian POW camp. The Australian POWs named this place hellfire because when they were going down in the dark to labor, the burning torches made it appear as though they were going down into hell’s fires.
They completed the tour, picked up some souvenirs and headed out for Namtok Station at Sai Yok. This is as far as the train runs on the old Thai Burma Railway these days.
On the route of the Death Railway, a little North of Hellfire Pass, where a trestle had once stood. Left to Right: PFC Bret Mays, Ian Naughton (a friend of the unit visiting from Australia), and Unit Commander Rad Mays.
They toured the Sai Yok Waterfall and some members conducted a recon around in the local bush looking for the old railway line. It was found, but it was in a very dense location. At this time, the Unit had to be split up. All but two took the train back to Kanchanaburi via crossing the bridge on the River Kwai. Two took the YMP vehicle back to Kanchanaburi where they all linked up again at the train station. Then back to the River Kwai Bridge for a tour and some play time on the old train engines. After chow and showers, the unit settled in for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, the unit headed out for breakfast and then to the Thai Burma Railway Center, where they toured the museum and the Donrak War Cemetery across from it. Then it was time to head back to Pattaya. It was a great trip and an outstanding adventure. The unit is already starting plans for another OUT to the same area. It is just a beautiful place and such an exciting area with so much history.
If you know of anyone seeking adventure and are willing to take on Honor, Courage and Commitment, then maybe they may want to become a Young Marine. If so, please contact Rad Mays at 083 115 8694 or email to [email protected]
Hin Tok Cutting is just after the Three-Tier Trestle and about 100m before Hin Tok Road.
Young Marines Pattaya members look into Hin Tok Cutting. The Three-Tier Trestle Bridge would have been to their rear. Between the black squares indicates where the old train bed lays. Left to Right: Unit Commander Rad, PFC Bret & Leader Nok Mays.
Three-Tier Trestle with train heading toward Hin Tok Cutting. The black rectangles represent where the backs of the three members of the Young Marines would have been located.