The Burma-Thailand Railway, which linked Bangkok and Rangoon, was built to supply Japanese forces fighting Anglo-Indian troops in Burma. To ensure its speedy construction, the Japanese employed the forced labour of 180,000 Asian workers and 60,000 Allied prisoners of war. Work began in June 1942 and was completed in October 1943.
Conditions on the railway were appalling, and an estimated 90,000 Asian labourers and 16,000 Allied prisoners died during construction. Among the dead were 6,318 British personnel, 2,815 Australians, 2,490 Dutch, 356 Americans and at least 4,000 Indians.
It is said that one man died for every sleeper laid.