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Burma

Thanbyuzayat

The Thanbyuzayat  War Cemetery  is  situated  in  the village  of Thanbyuzayat  (which roughly translated means  "a white iron  resting  hut") and  is  approximately 65 kilometres south of Moulein.   It lies  at  the foothills that separate  Burma  from  Thailand and  is virtually  inaccessible.  The only road  is driveable,  but  in a bad state of repair.

The first Prisoners  of War  arrived at Thanbyuzayat  via  Moulmein  in September 1942  and  established a POW base camp.    There  was  also the base for a large hospital camp.  It  was  here at  Thanbyuzayat  that the  northern section  of  the pre-war  rail  line   was  connected  to  the  newly  laid  rail line the  prisoners  constructed  through Thailand.  The southern  end  of  the  line  was  connected  to the  existing  line  at Nong Pladuk,  west of  Bangkok.

Prisoners  who  died  in the camps in the  north  of  Thailand  -  from Nikke going north  to  Moulmein  in  Burma  - were  initially  buried  in  small cemeteries   located  close  to  the camps  in which  they  had  died,  but  after  the  war  the Army  Graves  Service   located  most  of  the  deceased from  the camps  between  Nikke  and Moulmein  and they  were  moved  to  the War Cemetery at  Thanbyuzayat.

The total number  of  graves  in Thanbyuzayat  is  3,771,  of  which  1,588  were British  including 27  unknown graves.  1,335  were Australian  and   621  were Dutch  and numerous  others.

The cemetery  is  set  out  in  a  semi-circle  with  the  main aisle  running through  the  centre  with  the Cross  of Sacrifice  standing  at  the  end.  On  either  side  of  this  cross are clusters  of  large  white  flowering  trees  and  small  flowering  shrubs  are  in  abundance  throughout.   Most of  the  War  Cemeteries  in  the Far  East  flaunt  an  abundance  of  lush green grass  due  to  the constant  water  sprinklers; however, the  grass  at  Thanbyuzayat  is  yellow  and  dry  due  to  the  lack  of  piped  water  in  the  area.    This by no means  detracts  from  the  overall  beautiful   appearance  and serenity  of  this  remote cemetery but when  the  rainy season  comes  it  quickly  returns  to  a carpet  of luxuriant  grass.

 

Taukkyan

 

Taukkyan  War  Cemetery  and  Memorial   lies  north just  outside  Rangoon  (now  known as Yangon)

The  massive  open  rotunda  shape  of  the  Memorial  is  extremely  impressive  and is flanked  with  two  rows  either  side of  tall  round stone  columns  -  fourteen  columns  in each  row with paving  stones  and  flowering  shrubs in between.  Upon  each column can be found  the names  of  27,000 men who  have  no  known grave.

Inscribed  inside  the  Memorial  Rotunda  are  the  words:

"1939-1945.  Here are  recorded  the names  of twenty seven thousand  soldiers of many races united in service to  the British Crown  who gave their lives in Burma  and Assam,  but to  whom the fortune of war denied the customary rites accorded to their comrades in death"

Behind   the  Memorial columns  is the extremely  attractive  cemetery.   Separating  the  two, by  forming a delightful  screen, is  a beautiful  arbour of  flowering  trees.

The cemetery contains  the  graves  6,000 men,  but  not  all of these  are  the  remains  of  Far East Prisoners of  War.    Many  graves  were located  in  an  area  around  the  Rangoon Jail where  the  POW's  were  held during  their captivity.    But  many graves  are  of  those who died  during  the  battle  to  regain  Rangoon  from  the Japanese in 1945.   The Taukkyan  War Cemetery  was  created  in  1945  to  bury  the bodies  of  casualties  and  the  remains  of  the POW's were  later  transferred there.

The  headstones  in  the  Taukkyan  Cemetery  are  the small tablet  head stones, as  seen  in  many  of the other  war  cemeteries, inset  with  the  bronze plaque.  And like so  many  of  the  other cemeteries  it  is beautifully  kept  and  awash  with  the  vivid  green  of  lush  grass  and  peppered  with the bright colours  of  small flowering  shrubs.

Of  the  six  war  cemeteries visited  in the  Far East, Taukkyan  out shines  the  rest