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The Bridge on the River Kwai

The movie is called "The Bridge on the River Kwai" because no one would pay good money to see a film named, "The Bridge on the River Mae Klong," and it would never receive an Academy Award. Whatever the name, Australian, British and Dutch POWs have been forced to extend the Burma Railway through Hellfire Pass and along the Kwai Valley which is probably how the novel and subsequent movie became misnamed. The Burma Railway is also called the Railway of Death due to the 50% death rate the POWs suffered while building it. Remember the Battle of Midway? Japan took serious losses in Naval strength there. Now they can no longer provide sufficient merchant protection in order to get supplies to their troops in Burma. Thus a railroad route is required. A temporary wooden bridge is built while a steel and concrete one parallel to it is constructed. Although both bridges are bombed several times, no maniac British officer tries to build the perfect bridge and no commandos trigger an explosion while a train is passing by. Enjoy the movie. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The steel and concrete bridge still exists and it remains a tourist attraction due to the movie, but once again. No bridge was ever built during World War 2 that ever spanned the Kwai River. The river exists. The bridge does not. Also the design depicted in the movie was never built. Alec Guinness died a few years ago, but he was an actor... not a British POW and officer captured by the Japanese. However, many Australians were captured by the Japanese and they account for 20% of the deaths suffered by Australia in captivity during World War 2. If you think the Australians are still sore about it, you would be correct. Japan's military were hideous to POWs. Even the Japanese mainlanders were shocked when they learned of the atrocities their military had committed... so... if you hear of the American military going a little overboard when confronting the Japanese at war, just remember that was in the back of their minds. [4]

And World War 2 Events in Popular Media

Just a brief note... if you think the movies are depicting anything remotely like what actually happened during World War 2, you need to have your tailor loosen your collar a bit. Not enough blood is getting to the brain. Besides the Bridge on the River Kwai, the movie PT 109, depicts the heroic adventures of the future John F. Kennedy. It's a good movie, and extremely engaging, but as far as reality is concerned... it is more like propaganda considering that President Kennedy was in office when the film was released. Not to diminish the President's accomplishments: the boat was hit, Kennedy did survive, and he did get his men to shore. He towed one man by holding the lifejacket in his teeth. That is double-tough, but use your head. That's all I'm saying. There is also Project Mincemeat that was mentioned in the Tom Clancy novel "Red Rabbit". During World War 2, the British pick up the corpse of a drunk. Dress the body up in an officer's uniform and handcuff a briefcase filled with bogus invasion plans to his wrist. They dump the body overboard and hope for the best... or the worst depending on your perspective. The Nazis go for it and their troops are out of position when the British hit the beaches. Red Rabbit is not exactly that, but similar enough. However, it is not Clancy's best novel. Enjoy. [5]

Notable Births

  • Lech Walesa (Living): Co-founder of Poland's Solidarity union. (He is ESSENTIAL to throwing off Soviet rule.) [6] [7]
  • John Kerry (Living): Vietnam War protestor, Presidential candidate (D) and Secretary of State. (He is NON-ESSENTIAL.) [6] [8]
  • Newt Gingrich (Living): US Congressman (R) and author. (He will be ESSENTIAL to returning a Republican majority to Congress.) [6]
  • Bob Woodward (Living): Journalist teamed with Carl Bernstein. (They did ESSENTIAL reporting on the Watergate scandal.) [6]
  • Oliver North (Living): Marine Lt. Colonel and journalist. (During the Iran–Contra investigation, he defended himself admirably.) [6] [9]
  • And in Entertainment...
  • -- Chevy Chase (Living): Saturday Night Live, Fletch, and Foul Play. [10] [11]
  • -- Robert De Niro (Living): The Deer Hunter, Wag the Dog, and Meet the Fockers. [6] [12]
  • -- Christopher Walken (Living): The Deer Hunter, Wayne's World 2 and, Click. [6]
  • -- And in Music (All Living): George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and the ESSENTIAL Barry Manilow. [6] [13]

**Note: (Living) means they were alive when I checked.

This Year in Film

  • The Song of Bernadette: An inspiring religious film. [14]
  • Casablanca: A rush job that has become a classic. [14] [15]
  • Destination Tokyo: The House Committee on Un-American Activities investigates the screenwriter for movie dialogue sympathetic to communism. (BURN THE WITCH! ... Oh... pardon me.) [14] [16]

This Year in Music

  • Paper Doll: The Mills Brothers. "I'd rather have a paper doll than a real live girl." [17]
  • That Old Black Magic: The Glenn Miller Band. [17]
  • Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition: Written in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor last December. [17]

In Other News

  • Abbue Hoffman takes LSD: He records his experience for science since LSD it was considered a medicine at the time. [18]
  • The Great Depression is officially declared over: I'm not sure I would have noticed it the government hadn't told me. Rationing is in full swing. [18]

World War 2 in Review


  • The Pentagon is dedicated. It took a year and a half to complete. [18] [20]


  • The Battle of Stalingrad: The German 6th Army surrenders to the Soviets. [18]
  • "The Four Chaplains" go down with the Dorchester. Last seen, they were linked arm-in-arm praying.
-- Lt. George L. Fox (Methodist)
-- Lt. Alexander D. Goode (Jewish)
-- Lt. Clark V. Poling (Dutch Reformed)
-- Lt. John P. Washington (Catholic) [18]
  • Guadalcanal: Japanese forces get the boot. [18]
  • The US War Office censors movies. [18]


  • German "wolfpack" U-boats sink 22 ships. [18]


  • Nazi troops enter the Warsaw Ghetto. The Jews fight back. No hope. [18]


  • RAF Dambusters: Various dams are destroyed by bouncing bombs across the surface of the water. [18]
  • The Memphis Belle completes its 25 bombing missions intact. [18]
  • "Rosie the Riveter" appears. [18]
  • Dr. Josef Mengele becomes medical officer for Auschwitz. He is called the "Angel of Death". (Shudder!) [18]


  • The Zoot Suit Riots in East LA erupt. US servicemen chase Mexicans through my grandmother's hotel. (My uncle was a Zoot-suiter. Believe it.) [18]


  • The Battle of Kursk: 8,000 tanks total. The Germans lose big time. [18]
  • General Patton (USA) and General Montgomery (UK) land forces in Sicily. [18]
  • Hamburg, Germany is leveled. [18]
  • Benito Mussolini, the Italian Prime Minister, is arrested. The Italians are unhappy with him. [18]


  • PT-109 is rammed by a Japanese destroyer. John F. Kennedy and his men are rescued from a neaby island. (It will make a good movie.) [18]


  • Mainland Italy is invaded. Italy surrenders. [18]
  • German paratroopers rescue Mussolini. [18]


  • The Philadelphia Experiment: The USS Eldridge is rendered invisible! The Navy denies it ever happened, but rumors can be useful. [18]


  • Four bombs are dropped on Vatican City. The aircraft are never identified. [18]
  • The UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration is created. The agreement is signed at the White House. (Thanks, FDR!) [18]
  • Operation Overlord: FDR, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin meet in Tehran to plan the invasion of Normandy. [18]


  • General Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes Supreme Allied Commander Europe. [18]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1943, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. The Thai–Burma Railway and Hellfire Pass. hellfire-pass.commemoration.gov.au (2015). Retrieved on 29 October 2015. “This website focuses on Hellfire Pass (Konyu Cutting), the deepest and most dramatic of the many cuttings along the Thai–Burma railway. Not all Australian POWs worked here in 1943. Nor was the workforce in this region exclusively Australian. However, in recent years Hellfire Pass has come to represent the suffering of all Australian prisoners across the Asia–Pacific region. The experiences of prisoners elsewhere were, in fact, very diverse but this website can only hint at these.”
  2. Khwae Noi River - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 October 2015. “One bridge was wooden and temporary. The other was made of concrete and steel and still exists. The bridges actually spanned the Mae Klong, but as the railway subsequently follows the Khwae Noi Valley, the bridges became famous under the wrong name. In the 1960s, the upper part of the Mae Klong was renamed the Khwae Yai (big tributary').”
  3. The Bridge on the River Kwai - Remembering the Railway - The Thai-Burma Railway and Hellfire Pass. hellfire-pass.commemoration.gov.au (2016). Retrieved on 1 February 2017. “The bridge in the film also looks nothing like the steel bridge at Kanchanaburi. In fact there were no bridges built across the River Kwae during World War II. At that time the stretch of river that 'The Bridge on the River Kwai’ spans was called the Mae Klong (Mae Khlaung).”
  4. Toland, John Willard. Rising Sun: Volume 2, the Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945, The. Random House. “----” 
  5. Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 1 February 2017. “The eleven survivors clung to PT-109's bow section as it drifted slowly south. By about 2:00 p.m.,[3] it was apparent that the hull was taking on water and would soon sink, so the men decided to swim for land. As there were Japanese camps on all the nearby large islands, they chose the tiny deserted Plum Pudding Island, southwest of Kolombangara. They placed their lantern, shoes, and non-swimmers on one of the timbers which had been used as a gun mount and began kicking together to propel it. Kennedy, who had been on the Harvard University swim team, used a life jacket strap clenched between his teeth to tow his badly burned senior enlisted machinist mate, MM1 Patrick McMahon.[15] It took four hours to reach their destination, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) away, which they reached without interference by sharks or crocodiles.”
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 1943 Births - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  7. Lech Walesa - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 3 January 2017. “Lech Walesa (born 29 September 1943) is a retired Polish politician and labor activist. He co-founded and headed Solidarity, the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland from 1990 to 1995.”
  8. John Kerry - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 1 February 2017. “an American diplomat and politician who served as the 68th United States Secretary of State from 2013 to 2017. A Democrat, he previously served in the United States Senate, where he was chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He was the Democratic nominee in the 2004 presidential election, losing narrowly to Republican incumbent George W. Bush.”
  9. Oliver North - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 1 February 2017. “an American political commentator and television host, military historian, New York Times best-selling author, and former United States Marine Corps lieutenant colonel.”
  10. 1943 Births - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  11. Chevy Chase - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 1 February 2017. “Chase is well known for his portrayal of the character Clark Griswold in five National Lampoon's Vacation films, and for his roles in comedies including Foul Play (1978), Caddyshack (1980), Seems Like Old Times (1980), Fletch (1985), Spies Like Us (1985), and ¡Three Amigos! (1986).”
  12. Robert De Niro filmography - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 1 February 2017. “Robert De Niro's filmography includes the year the film was/will be released, the name of his character, and other related notes. There is also a list of films he has produced and his appearances in theater plays, TV series and documentaries. He is sometimes credited as Robert DeNiro and Robert De Nero. De Niro has appeared in over 100 films throughout his career.”
  13. Barry Manilow - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 1 February 2017. “an American singer-songwriter, arranger, musician, and producer with a career that has spanned over 50 years. He is best known for a long string of hit recordings such as 'Mandy', 'Can't Smile Without You', and 'Copacabana (At the Copa)'.”
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 1943 in film - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  15. Casablanca (film) - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 1 February 2017. “Casablanca was rushed into release to take advantage of the publicity from the Allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier.”
  16. Destination Tokyo - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 1 February 2017. “The film had some impact: when the crew of a World War II-submarine in the 1951 movie Operation Pacific is given the treat of seeing a submarine-movie, it is this film they are shown. Tony Curtis enlisted in the United States Navy after Pearl Harbor was bombed and war was declared. Having been inspired by Grant's role, he chose submarine duty and served aboard USS Proteus, a submarine tender. The film influenced Ronald Reagan (according to his autobiography) in his decision to accept the lead, as a World War II-submarine captain, in the 1957 movie Hellcats of the Navy. Also, Cary Grant once again starred as a World War II-submarine captain in the 1959 war comedy Operation Petticoat (which inspired a TV series 20 years later).”
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 1943 in music - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  18. 18.00 18.01 18.02 18.03 18.04 18.05 18.06 18.07 18.08 18.09 18.10 18.11 18.12 18.13 18.14 18.15 18.16 18.17 18.18 18.19 18.20 18.21 18.22 18.23 18.24 18.25 18.26 1943 - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  19. 9 Brilliant Inventions Made by Mistake. smallbusiness.yahoo.com (2015). Retrieved on 30 October 2015. “Yet that was the intended use of the springs naval engineer Richard James was developing in 1943. The sensitive springs were meant to keep fragile equipment steady on ships. Then James knocked one of his new springs from a shelf and, like a kid on Christmas morning, watched it do that famous Slinky walk down instead of just hitting the ground, as Time noted in its all-time greatest toys list last year.”
  20. The Pentagon - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 1 February 2017. “Ground was broken for construction on September 11, 1941, and the building was dedicated on January 15, 1943.”

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