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 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