A Railway on Sumatra Constructed by Prisoners of the Japanese During WWII (1943 - 1945)
Tanjung Rhu Pekanbaru (Modder Lust)
The whole of Pekanbaru in 1945 was approximately 2.5 km across. There is now little to see at camp 1 due to the growth of Pekanbaru city. The area around Camp 1 is now made up of many small walking lanes into a housing area, a local market and old houses that were built in the late 1950’s. The swampy areas are still there but flooding from the Siak River is now controlled by a stop bank.
Rail bridges over the streams are still in place and many of the roads in this area are actually built on the main line, locomotive turning triangle, and sidings. The Japanese camp area has also been removed, but the location is known and was based some way from POW Camp 1.
The Wharf's original foundations are still visible and there is an old steel riveted coal barge submerged next to them. There are signs of rail next to what was the main train line in places.
Other hints of what use to be in this area can be seen in the naming of places and roads. Some of these are Loco Village, Jalan Lokomotif, and Lokomotif Cemetery.
A coal barge lying derelict on the side of the Siak river near the old wharf
An interactive map of the railway line through Pekanbaru (Camps 1 & 2)
Tangkerang Tengah Pekanbaru (Hospital or Death Camp)
There were two camps in the area round Camp 2. Camp 2 is located at Tangkerang Tengah and Camp 2A is located at Simpang Tiga a few hundred meters further south.
There is nothing visible here due to the spread of Pekanbaru other than the intersection point of the original road to Bangkinang.
Camp 2 is located on Jalan Kerita Api, (Train Road), which is built on the original railway line.
Close to where camp 2A is located, there is a monument to the people who built the railway along with a cemetery for the Romusha.
The monument to the building of the railway and those who died doing so.
Kampung Petas and Kubang
Camp 3 is located at Kampung Petas, (previously Kotabulu). The water storage for the kitchen and camp area is all that remains here. There may have been two camp areas here, one main camp or possibly the Japanese camp, and another closer to the Kampar Kanan river and the railway bridge approach on the northern side of the river.
Camp 3A is located at Kubang. Nothing is left in this wet and swampy area other than the stream crossings and the white sand quarry that was used for the bridge embankments and approaches.
Location of camps 3, 3A, and 4
Camps 4, 5, and 6
Kampar Kanan River (south bank), Lubu Sakit, and Sungai Pagar
There is nothing left at any of these camps other than the embankments of the railway. No known artifacts have been found due to the swampy nature of this area.
Location of camp 5 at Lubu Sakit
Location of camp 6 at Sungai Pagar
Lipit Kain (North and South Bank)
There are two camps located at Lipat Kain. Camp 7 is on the south bank of the Kampar Kiri river while camp 7A is on the north side.
Camp 7 is now surrounded by palm oil plantations. A few kilometers south is the skeleton of a locomotive, meant to be another monument. Water cisterns for water supply to the locomotives and concrete and wooden foundations that were most likely for locomotive servicing also remain. This area may have been a logistics and storage area for rail and other materials required to build the railway.
Camp 7A was located next to where the railway line crossed the Kampar Kiri river. The bridge foundations where the line crossed the river can still be seen when the river is extremely low.
Location of camps 7 and 7A
The Locomotive near camp 7 at Lipat Kain.
There is nothing left of the camp at Kota Baru. While travelling along the road to Teluk Kuantan in 2000, artifacts were visible within scrap piles in Kota Baru. These included: railway lines, locomotive and carridge wheels. They have since been removed and most likely scrapped.
The spur line to the coal mine and camps 14 and 14A began not far from camp 8 at a village called Petai.
Location of camp 8 at Kota Baru
A cutting beside the main road near Petai
Camp 9 is located at Logas Desa. There is nothing left of the camp here other than wooden bridge pilings in the creek and some cuttings through the hills on the south side of Logas. Locals have commented that there is a cemetary for POW located next to the railway embankment behind the school.
An ANZAC day commemoration was held at the site of camp 9 in 2015 by expats working in the area. Watch the video here.
The location of camp 9 at Logas Desa
Bridge foundations at Logas Desa
Camp 10 is located at Kota Kombu. All that remains are some rails lying along the road and steel rails that were used to make a walk bridge.
The location of camp 10 at Kota Kombu
Padang Torok (Padang Tarap)
Camp 11 is located at Padang Torok. There is nothing of the camp left here but it is possible to see the location of the raiway station. Camp 11 is the first of two camps located in the Kuantan Gorge.
The location of camp 11 at Padang Torok
Camp 12 is located at Silukah. No sign of the camp remains, although it is very easy to see where the railway ran as it was cut into the vertical stone cliffs of the Kuantan Gorge.
There is also another monument located close to where the camp once stood.
The location of camp 12 at Silukah
The monument close to camp 12 in the Kuantan Gorge
The railway line cut into the cliff along the Kuantan Gorge
Camp 13 is located in Muaro in West Sumatra. This is where the line connected with the original line built by the Dutch years before. There is nothing left of the camp here but it is possible to see the railway station and water tanks for supplying the locomotives.
The location of camp 13 at Muaro
Muaro Railway Station
Muaro water tank for locomotive water supply
Camps 14 and 14A were built to access the coal mine and supply workers for the mine. It is located just out of Petai in the surrounding hills. It was a feat of engineering building this line as the area is extremely steep with very narrow gorges. When there was no longer room for steam locomotives a 700mm push cart line was built that ran further up the valley to the coal mine.
Check out the page dedicated to Camp 14 and the coal mine here.
The location of camp 14 is now in an area that has become part of the Tiger Protection Unit.
The location of camp 14A is known and many artifacts from the railway have been found here.
Due to the difficult access of this area there are still many artifacts from the camps left to be found.
The location of camps 14 and 14A along with the coal mine