1943 – The Burma Railway is completed

The Burma Railway is a railroad connecting Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar) to Bangkok, Thailand. It runs for some 415 kilometres over very rough terrain, including numerous hills and several rivers. It was built by thousands of forced labourers compelled by the Japanese Army during World War Two to construct it – approximately 180,000 Asians and 60,000 Allied prisoners of war.

The death toll among the workers was terrible: half the Asians and more than 12,000 of the prisoners of war – including British, Dutch, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, Indians and Americans. The railway saw some use during the war, but due to its hasty construction, it was largely abandoned after the war, with parts of it salvaged for use in other railway projects.

The film “The Bridge on the River Kwai” was inspired by the experiences of POWs building the railway.

Referenced in:

Nearly Over Now — Eric Bogle

1483 — Tomás de Torquemada named a Grand Inquisitor

The most notorious of all members of the Holy Inquisition, Tomás de Torquemada’s fervour in punishing heretics and sinners – his fanaticism is one of the chief causes of the poor repute of the Inquisition – may well have been driven by a secret shame: although many of those he persecuted were Jews, he himself seems to have had Jewish ancestry.

ALthough at first his appointment as Grand Inquisitor – Spain’s first such – was a decision popular with nobles and peasants alike, over time, de Torquemada became so hated in Spain that he traveled everywhere with armed and mounted guards in order to protect him from the people he so often found it necessary to destroy in order to save.

Referenced in:

Tomas De Torquemada — Down I Go