July 26, 2011

Scot sabotaged the 'Bridge on the River Kwai' with termites

Hero who sabotaged bridge with termites

Kenneth McLeod, who has died aged 92, was captured by the Japanese in the Second World War and was one of the last surviving veterans who worked on the bridge over the River Kwai.
He fought with the 2nd Battalion at the Battle of Slim River but was cut off behind enemy lines.  With a group of stragglers and carrying a wounded man for two days, he set off towards Singapore.  They had marched 100 miles before being ambushed.

He escaped into the jungle, but surrendered when his name was called out to save the others from being shot.
Both his legs became paralysed from poisoning and he was hospitalised in Kuala Lumpur. After recovering, he volunteered to go to Siam rather than return to Singapore with the wounded prisoners. This meant he was in No 1 work party which built two bamboo camps before starting the wooden bridge on the north side of the River Kwai at Tamarkan, immortalised in the epic film The Bridge on the River Kwai starring Alec Guinness.

Mr McLeod sabotaged his work by farming termite eggs which he placed at each joint and at the base of every upright.

After the railway was completed, the Japanese segregated Mr McLeod and the other officers from the enlisted men and marched them away. He later discovered they were all to be murdered.

Their lives were saved with the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, forcing the Japanese surrender.

May he rest in peace and his memory preserved.

Posted by Jill Fallon at July 26, 2011 2:27 PM | Permalink