I arrived from a ride from Mae Sot/Tak/Kampaeng Phet/Chai Nat/Supanburi to Kachanaburi rain free and put in just as the blue bruise of a storm enveloped the city. While in town, I thought I would go to Kachanaburi's War museum, or, as it is titled, the 'JEATH War Museum'. I thought, "that is most perplexing." "They must mean something like, 'The War Death Museum'" . The title of the 'JEATH War Museum' does give a person a premonition of what lays in store beyond its entrance. As I stumbled across the museum I had no idea who master-minded the enterprise however it is located beside the iron railroad bridge on the Kwai River and cost 40 baht to enter. I had thought that there at least must be some interesting artifacts within - even if the usual efforts were made to explain what anything was. Inside is a repository of anything to do with any war - about 50 % appears to be war scrap picked up from border skirmishes with Burma, Laos and Cambodia – US made MK-43 five hundred pound bombs were not dropped on the River Kwai bridge, nor were most of the array of mortar shells and rocket projectiles in evidence - many still with corroded fuses (and unlikely inert). But they do have a fair number of 1000 lb bombs (oh goody!) of the type dropped by the Army Air Corps in WWII that likely were recovered around the bridge; or, it is plausible they were recovered from around the bridge. The bridge was indeed bombed. Probably the greatest help were plasticized articles from the Bangkok Post that related that history with some accuracy. They said that for the first 7 bombings little damage came to the bridge. It was only on the 8th, 9th and 10th attacks that the bridge was seriously hit; taking out three spans on the Kachanaburi side. The bombings occurred during December of 1944 and the first 6 months of 1945. These spans were apparently replaced with the two long spans that are present today. The rounded 6-7 spans on the other side are apparently original spans. According to http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-bat ... 2/kwai.htm, the iron bridge was dismantled in Java by the Japanese and shipped to Thailand about 1942. "This eleven span bridge had been dismantled by the Japanese and brought to Tamarkan from Java in 1942. Both bridges were subjected to numerous attacks by Allied aircraft during the period December 1944 to June 1945. One span of the steel bridge was destroyed in a raid mid February 1945. Two more spans were dropped during raids between April and June 1945." As the quote above infers, there was also a wooden bridge within a kilometer of the iron bridge. - according to the photos on the 'Digger History' site, the wooden bridge would have been located very close to the present site of a modern bridge for vehicle traffic (about a kilometer south). In the last year or two I have seen a program run on the National Geographic Channel about the allied bombing of this bridge - 'The River Kwai Bridge' and they were talking about the development and use of 'Hazon' , effectively one of the first guided bombs. The bomb had fins and was controlled by radio from the plane. To keep the bomb visible, a flare attached to the bomb ignited shortly after the bomb was dropped. By these means the bombardier kept the falling bomb in view and could control the fins to guide the bomb through radio and hit the target every time. And, according to NG, that's how they finally got the bridge. But you wouldn't know that at the 'JEATH War Museum'. Never-the-less, the plasticized newspaper articles were very helpful. I had never thought that the bridge, or, in this case, the actual bridge, was still there (natchorly, they blew the bejeesus out of the one in the movies). That fact lends a serious, historic weight to the location and provides an air of deep authenticity. As for David Lean's making of the movie, 'The Bridge Over the River Kwai', did he really pay to construct the wooden bridge in Ceylon we see in the movie? Was he really mad enough to blow it up and derail a real steam locomotive into the river? Watching the film, it sure looks like he did. The making of that film has to be a real story. Back to the present; I am a shallow farang after all, and did learn something at the 'JEATH War Museum'. Good thing it wasn't left to the people who ran the museum to explain anything. The museum has two floors of artifacts - for some reason an exhibition of prehistoric artifacts in the basement, a Chinese pagoda, a railroad car with the door caged and wax effigies of really desperate looking farangs staring balefully from within. The sign says – “The Japanese Army used Railway Cars a “Prisons” for hiding Prisoners of War”. There is other such stuff. At one end is a collection of antiques with a single explanation; 'Japanese Soldier Belongings Left Behind'. There is everything from weapons, swords, M-16 rifles, AK-47s, some modern aircraft automatic cannon, uniforms, helmets of WWII (some are Japanese), phonographs, movie projectors, typewriters, cameras and on and on. There are BSA and Triumph motorcycles (circa 1950s) recently painted green with Japanese flags painted on them and a sign saying 'Japanese Soldier Vehicle for Going to Market'. The Japanese must be really insulted by that; and not just because they build terrifically better motorcycles. The whole premise of the museum is sort of tacky and in bad taste. And certainly the mass tomb of SE Asian laborers is over the top. Another site about the bridge said this to say about the museum: "At the time of my visit, the near-by 'JEATH Museum' in Kachanaburi housed a display of torture instruments along with photos of the brutality. I subsequently heard that the Japanese government had protested its presence and the Thai authorities were considering closing it. JEATH stands for Japan, England, America/Australia, Thailand, and Holland--the six countries whose captured soldiers were involved with the construction of the 'Death Railway' as it came to be known" I became interested to find out who had done the museum. The plasticized articles had made reference to a Thai businessman/war profiteer who managed to secret some assistance to the farang POWs. He was Boonpong Sirivejapandh and was the mayor of Kachanaburi before/after the war. I inquired about him when I met the owners of the museum and was told that he is deceased. I wondered if some of the artifacts in the museum had come from him. Certainly, his story must be incredible, if it were ever possible to learn it. It turns out that the guy who runs the museum lived next to Boonpong and I was introduced to Aran Jansiri by his son. Through them, I divined that his father made good in business after the war and became a collector/pack-rat sort of guy. They showed me an article written by the Nation dated 9 November, 2003 and it is available on this site: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/search/ ... 2003-11-09 According to the article the guy was a collector and had decided to put together the museum on his own. He says that the captions on the articles he has acquired are as they were explained to him as he got them and are thus labeled. In the article about his museum, he says the following: “I wrote the description cards for each item [in the museum] using my own research and my own experiences. People on either side of the war might not like it [my descriptions], but it’s my version. Don’t come if you don’t like it,” If the Japanese or Farangs don't like his account about the items, so be it. So, in a Thai/Chinese fashion, it is more of a sort of shrine for himself and the rest is secondary and/or pure fancy. On the other hand, he represents a living witness to the actual events (see newspaper article). And once again, there’s a great story there if only it could be told. And certainly, the museum is worth a gander at only 40 baht. The museum comes off as the brain child of a disturbed mind; however, in spite of appearing to be as bad as seems, I was provoked to learn something about the bridge. Like most efforts here to translate anything historic for visitors, actually learning something could almost only happen through accident. Never-the-less, as is evident by this article, the wildly fluctuating content and bizarre descriptions of the museum generate ample curiosity; or, certainly did in me. There are an incredible amount of oddities within and the lack of reliable explanation for their presence enhances the power their enigma. A friend more cognizant than I of Thai culture remarked upon the presence of the Pagoda within the museum. She said that with such a vast collection of property that once belonged to the living (as well as a mass grave), it is entirely normal to include a Pagoda. "That place has to be rife with spirits. They had to do something for them".