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BBC News | ENGLAND | 'Railway of death' remembered

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SERVICES  Daily E-mail News Ticker Mobiles/PDAs Feedback Help Low Graphics Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 18:54 GMT 'Railway of death' remembered
The sleepers will form part of a war prisoners' memorial
Former prisoners of the Japanese on the notorious Thai-Burma railway have once again been carrying timbers from the track which they last grasped 60 years ago.

Up to 50 former PoWs watched the arrival of the sleepers, spikes and track which have been taken to the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire.

There, they will form a permanent memorial to the Allied soldiers, estimated at 16,000, who died at the hands of the Japanese or from disease.

One veteran, Dutch-born Fred Seiker, from Worcester, said the rails were a "living, tangible thing".


Veterans watched the track arrive on Monday

He said: "It's a great day. It encapsulates all we went through."

The 100ft (30m) section of track from the 260 mile (415km) railway was collected by a Royal Navy frigate in Thailand in November, and unloaded at Plymouth on Monday.

The veterans and their families filed past the track which was dubbed the Railway of Death.

Others though helped carry the fragile, termite-ridden timbers to an area of land lined with saplings to commemorate the dead.

An official dedication ceremony for the track will be held on 15 August.

No graves

Retired Major Philip Mains, who served with the Royal Indian Service Corps, said: "It's vital that we should not pass hatred from generation to generation.

"We would hope that when people come here, they will remember the sacrifices and say this will never happen again."

The Rev Ray Rossiter, aged 80, was captured in Singapore in 1942.

He said: "Future generations must be made to realise that the freedom they now enjoy was won by these people.

"It's also important for the widows and families of those who died to have some object on which they can focus their memories. They have no graves to visit."

WATCH/LISTEN ON THIS STORY The BBC's Jane Hughes
"The small group of veterans watched quietly"




See also:

07 Jan 02 | England
'Railway of death' sleepers arrive 15 Aug 01 | UK
Memorial honours railway PoWs 15 Aug 01 | UK
Memorial to Sumatra railway dead 21 Jun 01 | UK
Tribute to WWI 'cowards' 08 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Railway of Death lures fortune hunters Internet links:

The Royal British Legion Association of British Civilian Internees National Memorial Arboretum Japanese Labour Camps Survivors Association
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