Situated on the Maenamkwai Road, the World War 11 & JEARTH War Museum is worth visiting at the same time as the bridge over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi as it located only 130 metres down the road. Admission costs only 40 THB and it opens from 08.30 to 16.30.
Museum in a Temple
The first noteworthy thing about this museum is that it is located inside a temple, Wat Chai Chumporn, and that the museum is maintained by the Abbot of the temple.
The temple is itself worth looking at. There are a number of paintings and sculpture, some old and some new, which are interesting although unrelated to the events which occurred during World War II.
Layout of the Museum
The layout and content of this museum could best be described as ‘random’. Over the years the temple has collected, and has donated to it, a large amount of artefacts and memorabilia, relating to the experience of both Allied POWs and forced Asian labour working on the Thai-Burma ‘Death Railway’. This collection they have displayed, in no particular order, inside a number of rooms and covered areas.
Artefacts in the Museum
Near the entrance there is a train engine used by the Japanese during the war on this train line. The other artefacts in the collection are smaller, save for the plane and helicopter on the terrace outside, and include guns, uniforms, cups, plates, and any other thing which you might imagine soldiers or POWs to have used at the time. There is even a recreation of a bamboo hut typical of the ones that the POWs would have slept in.
Photographs in the Museum
Perhaps the most moving and interesting parts of this museum are the photographs and paintings. This museum has a large collection of photographs taken at the time that the railway was being constructed and they give a fantastic insight into life at the time, both in Kanchanaburi and other parts of Asia. The paintings and pictures feature alongside written accounts of the war and life at the POW camps.
This is a small museum and well worth a short visit. It is a small entrance fee and there are some important artefacts here worth preserving.