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Hero who sabotaged bridge with termites (Incredible story of heroism alert)
The Scotsman ^ | July 18, 2011 | Campbell Thomas

Posted on 07/17/2011 6:22:02 PM PDT by Zakeet

A WAR hero's medals have revealed the untold story of a Scottish soldier who survived three years of suffering building the notorious Burma Railway. 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.

Now his daughter and son are donating his war medals, Glengarry bonnet and sporran to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders museum at Stirling Castle, where he was based more than 70 years ago.

Mr McLeod, of Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, was sent to Singapore as a young officer with the Argylls and was training in jungle warfare in Malaya when Japanese forces landed unexpectedly in the north.

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.

Some 90,000 Asian labourers and 16,000 Allied POWs died building the Burma Railway.

Speaking at a remembrance service in 2005, Mr McLeod, a committed Christian, said it was unsurprising the route was named the Railway of Death.

He recalled: "Many of my friends and colleagues did not survive, but two things helped me to keep going and not give up, and these were faith and hope."

His daughter, Moira Johnston, said yesterday: "As children we would hear the funny stories from the army but not much about anything else. He kept those experiences to himself."


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: atombomb; bridgeontheriverkwai; burmarailway; heroism; kennethmcleod; kwai; singapore; termites; veterans; whataman; whatastory; wwii

The Real Bridge on the River Kwai

As children we would hear the funny stories from the army but not much about anything else. He kept those experiences to himself.

1 posted on 07/17/2011 6:22:11 PM PDT by Zakeet
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To: Zakeet

That’s the phrase that stuck out to me, too. It’s true of most WWII vets I’ve known.

I’m glad guys like Mr. McLeod were on our side.


2 posted on 07/17/2011 6:36:45 PM PDT by FourPeas ("Maladjusted and wigging out is no way to go through life, son." -hg)
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To: Zakeet

“As children we would hear the funny stories from the army but not much about anything else. He kept those experiences to himself.”

I think this is true for many children of WWII vets. We would ask my dad “What did you do in the War?” He always said he dug foxholes. Perhaps he did, but it turned out he did quite a few other things as well that he only told us a few months before he died several years ago.

All of them were such heroes. And part of what made them so was their humility and their sense of duty.

God bless them wherever they are in God’s universe.


3 posted on 07/17/2011 6:38:35 PM PDT by TEXOKIE (Anarchy IS the strategy of the forces of darkness!)
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To: Zakeet
Bravo Mr McLeod. I have visited your bridge on the River Kwai, at least the modern one today. The Thailand People have built a museum and memorial to those who died building the railway.
4 posted on 07/17/2011 6:40:31 PM PDT by Traveler59 ( Truth is a journey, not a destination.)
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To: Zakeet

Here is one guy who is glad Harry Truman dropped the big one.


5 posted on 07/17/2011 6:47:01 PM PDT by Venturer
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To: Zakeet

Leave it to one of my fellow Scots to sabotage the most notorious bridge in history. Good job, buddy, good job.


6 posted on 07/17/2011 6:58:17 PM PDT by arderkrag (Georgia is God's Country. LOOKING FOR ROLEPLAYERS. Check Profile.)
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To: Venturer
“Here is one guy who is glad Harry Truman dropped the big one.”

I second that.
Very proud of our nation for the Manhattan project. It saved hundreds of thousands of American lives.

I walked by the grave of Frank Spedding last week while on my universities campus at Iowa State. Mr Spedding was one of the leaders in processing uranium for the Manhattan Project.
Great men and women.

7 posted on 07/17/2011 7:07:26 PM PDT by HereInTheHeartland (I love how the FR spellchecker doesn't recognize the word "Obama")
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To: Traveler59

I also visited the famous bridge when I was serving in the Army and on the Cobra Gold 1986 Joint Exercise. Having seen the movie before the actual visit I found it to be a very powerful experience that I will never forget. God bless all those who served in ours and our allies military.


8 posted on 07/17/2011 7:08:11 PM PDT by Finatic (I ran out of change and have given up on hope. FUBO, I am so sick of your sorry a$$ you effin punk)
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To: FourPeas

“That’s the phrase that stuck out to me, too. It’s true of most WWII vets I’ve known.”

It was true of my father too, a combat medic in Europe. He became a lifer, and in due course volunteered for Viet Nam. When he came back he would wake my mother up with occasional nightmares . . . about WWII. RVN had churned it all up somehow.

They are both gone now. I miss them so.


9 posted on 07/17/2011 7:11:55 PM PDT by Psalm 144 (Voodoo Republicans: Don't read their lips - watch their hands.)
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To: FourPeas
That’s the phrase that stuck out to me, too. It’s true of most WWII vets I’ve known.

Yep - same with my dad. Never talked about the war itself. Much later in life, we learned (not from him) that he had jumped off the back of his troop truck with his BAR and neutralized an attempted ambush by the Germans.

So many heros did such heroic things. Mr. McLeod is one of them. All unappreciated by the latest generation, or a good portion thereof.

10 posted on 07/17/2011 7:28:37 PM PDT by meyer (We will not sit down and shut up.)
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To: All

As a teen I discovered that neighbor of mine had been in the Baatan death march. He told (edited I’m sure) tales of torture and deprivation. He was always a real heavy-set guy and said many times that, “As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again”.

Amazing what those guys endured.


11 posted on 07/17/2011 7:37:21 PM PDT by rockrr (Everything is different now...)
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To: TEXOKIE

My dad told 2 stories, one about his dislike of Eisenhower which probably saved his life and another about having to ditch into the ocean, said they had to push him out and eating sand when he finally got to land.

When he died my brother’s Air Force friend went through his medals and was amazed and very respectful, he wrote it all down and they gave them to me but I could tell my brother wanted them and gave them him so I still don’t know much about his service.


12 posted on 07/17/2011 7:48:27 PM PDT by tiki
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To: rockrr

So many of the WWII vets in our town were Baatan survivors and when I was young and ignorant I was sitting across from a man and it looked like he had just injured his thumbs so I asked what happened.

He told me that he had been tied up by the Japs by his thumbs for stealing a chicken, then he went on to tell me about the rats and the roaches and the crickets that they ate.

I didn’t know until I was an adult that the town drunk that everyone took care of was a Bataan hero and had saved many lives. The cops picked him up about once a week so he could get some good meals and a shower.


13 posted on 07/17/2011 7:56:00 PM PDT by tiki
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To: Zakeet
"Some 90,000 Asian labourers and 16,000 Allied POWs died building the Burma Railway."

I dabble in history a little, but I never knew this.

14 posted on 07/17/2011 7:56:21 PM PDT by labette ( Humble student of Thinkology)
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To: tiki

My Dad was a WW II vet in the Army Air Force who served stateside. He always said that if the US hadn’t dropped the bomb, he would have been sent overseas and there would have been a million US casualties in subduing the Japanese.


15 posted on 07/17/2011 7:57:57 PM PDT by Ciexyz
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To: HereInTheHeartland

Yes, the left always trots out the number of people that died when the A-bombs went off. However, they will never mention that about 200,000 people a month were dying in all the slave labor camps and POW camps in Japan and in all the areas under Japanese rule.


16 posted on 07/17/2011 8:01:18 PM PDT by Maine Mariner
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To: HereInTheHeartland

Yes, the left always trots out the number of people that died when the A-bombs went off. However, they will never mention that about 200,000 people a month were dying in all the slave labor camps and POW camps in Japan and in all the areas under Japanese rule.


17 posted on 07/17/2011 8:01:33 PM PDT by Maine Mariner
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To: Zakeet
He kept those experiences to himself.

A man that I know from church a few years ago, was on Guadalcanal from day one. He never told any stories about the war, but was always bright and cheerful. I recieved an email the other day that he has stomach cancer. So sad, another hero whose days are getting short.

18 posted on 07/17/2011 8:07:30 PM PDT by rightly_dividing
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To: All

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19 posted on 07/17/2011 8:10:45 PM PDT by musicman (Until I see the REAL Long Form Vault BC, he's just "PRES__ENT" Obama = Without "ID")
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To: Ciexyz
Richland High School is also proud of their city's participation in the Manhattan Project. This is one of their logos


20 posted on 07/17/2011 8:18:39 PM PDT by SeaHawkFan
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To: Psalm 144

That’s right. The guys who actually experienced the terrors and horrors of that war did not talk about it. Daddy was in the Army infantry - N. Africa, Sicily, Italy, Germany. Had flashbacks to specific battles when he would have to be put under anesthesia to have surgery for anything. The thing about flashbacks is that they ARE like really being there; going back to that specific time and trauma. - He did get to where he could talk about it a little in his later years; but not much.


21 posted on 07/17/2011 8:24:03 PM PDT by Twinkie (For whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13)
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To: rightly_dividing

” I recieved an email the other day that he has stomach cancer. So sad, another hero whose days are getting short.”

You should visit him with a recorder and ask him to tell you his story so you can pass it on.


22 posted on 07/17/2011 8:26:12 PM PDT by Rembrandt (.. AND the donkey you rode in on.)
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To: arderkrag

The wooden bridge was temporary. The concrete and steel bridge, which still exists, was operational within a few months after the wooden bridge was completed.

And it was not actually on the River Kwai, which is actually spelled Kwae, but a larger river that runs parallel to it. The two rivers merge a mile or so below the bridge. Because of the book and movie the Thais changed the name of the part of the larger river with the bridge to Kwae Yai (big Kwae) and renamed the Kwae as Kwae Noi (little Kwae).

I’ve been up there a few times, and will be going back with the kids.


23 posted on 07/17/2011 8:40:17 PM PDT by Flash Bazbeaux
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To: Zakeet
Thank you all for the stories of your Dads and friends, they have my admirations for their service.

May I suggest that if you know of someone who has seen service in a war, etc., or just an old family member, sit them down, get your video camera, and do an interview with them.

They will talk if you get them started, they just don't know the questions.

I did this after my mother died, with her 2 sisters and 4 brothers. Starting with the oldest, one at a time each gave their remembrences of their childhood. 3 of the brothers told of their service during WWI. All are dead now except 1 sister.

All the family now wants this video, hard to make a copy of a VCR tape, paid to have it put on a CD, but very poor quality.

I interviewed my mother in law before she died, also my son in laws father who was in the air force in WWII. I got him to talk, and the wife and kids could not believe it, they had never heard these stories he told. Priceless.

24 posted on 07/17/2011 8:49:36 PM PDT by annieokie
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To: annieokie

I often wish I thought of doing something like this before my Dad passed.

But this is an amazing story. Thanks for sharing.


25 posted on 07/17/2011 8:54:32 PM PDT by marcbold (kevorkian, death)
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To: marcbold
If you know of others, just do it. Believe me, they old have some very good stories to tell.

I left one other out, forgot. She was about 90 years old an Aunt of my mother in law. She was sitting all alone, no one was talking with her, sad.

I took my notebook over and started chatting, interviewing her. She was so happy and told so many stories of her life in the late 1800's. Her trips by wagon, how they lived, etc.

After she died, that family wanted all my notes, glad to give them, yet a little angry they did not care to ask her anything about her life. OH well, she is now written up in a Who's Who book at the Historical Building of Okla.

I am not busy writeing a story of my dad's life, as only I and my brothers knew him that well. Some interesting stuff and humor that I don't want to lose in my death. We all have a story to tell to our future.

I recently received a letter written by my g g grandmother to her daughter, telling about what she knew of the family genealogy. So wonderful to receive.

26 posted on 07/17/2011 9:04:58 PM PDT by annieokie
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To: meyer; FourPeas

My dad said similar things. When he passed away several years ago, I was going through his personal affects and found his Silver Star.


27 posted on 07/17/2011 9:05:28 PM PDT by wjcsux ("In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." - George Orwell)
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To: annieokie

My uncle was in WW2 he was in (new guinea) I think, or another of those god forsaken places and the story he told was marching down the road and seeing women nursing pigs instead of their babies. The pig could feed the whole family..didn’t have any love lost for the women that did that...


28 posted on 07/17/2011 9:05:57 PM PDT by goat granny
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To: FourPeas
“It’s true of most WWII vets I’ve known.”

I've known 3 generals from WW2 and none of them ever talked about what they did except in very private conversations and only then because they were extremely close friends.

29 posted on 07/17/2011 9:07:02 PM PDT by dalereed
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To: goat granny

Yikes. horrible thought. lol


30 posted on 07/17/2011 9:10:02 PM PDT by annieokie
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To: annieokie

My Dad was an MP in Alamogordo, NM after WWII. As he was leaving due to cancer we sat him down with a mic and a pile of old family photos to narrate. Many years later the track and photos were edited and put to music. Not an easy task, but rewarding to be sure.


31 posted on 07/17/2011 9:10:55 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew (minds change)
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To: Venturer
"Here is one guy who is glad Harry Truman dropped the big one."

I'm with you brother. I've never had a problem with that and know full well that it saved the lives of hundreds of thousands who would have perished had we invaded Japan. God bless Harry Truman for making that decision.

32 posted on 07/17/2011 9:15:08 PM PDT by davisfh (Islam is a mental illness with global social consequences)
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To: marcbold; annieokie

“I often wish I thought of doing something like this before my Dad passed.”

It is a great idea, and worth the effort, but sometimes not doable. My dad would not tell me any of his ‘war stories’. He told a very few to my mother, who relayed them to me. When asked, he would confirm they were true but would not elaborate. She was his confidante, not I. He was trying to express his experience in a crucible and I was just wanting an exciting story. So he spoke to her.

This thread makes me miss him so much. I will say this now: God bless our military, the quick and the dead, presently serving to long retired, from the rawest, bald, bewildered recruit to the oldest, most grizzled veteran. If you are one of those, know that you are remembered, appreciated, respected and yes, loved. May God watch over and protect you, now and forever.


33 posted on 07/17/2011 9:19:57 PM PDT by Psalm 144 (Voodoo Republicans: Don't read their lips - watch their hands.)
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To: Zakeet

That’s another patriotic, very smart Scotsman!!!


34 posted on 07/17/2011 9:22:36 PM PDT by shield (Rev 2:9 "Woe unto those who say they are Judah and are not, but are of the synaGOGue of Satan.")
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To: Psalm 144
Sorry you did not get your story first hand, sad.

I so much appreciated the tribute to our service men and women past and present. So beautifully expressed. I ditto your statements.

35 posted on 07/17/2011 9:29:11 PM PDT by annieokie
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To: meyer
My dad never talked about his experiences in WWII either. Then he was given an old computer back around 1990 andhe set to writing everything down. His story is on the web here:

http://bellsouthpwp2.net/e/a/ea_herr/WalkToForest.html

Several years ago, the Herbert Hoover Presidential library put out a request for veterans to come and be interviewed about their experiences, and those interviews would be added to the library of Congress. So I hauled my dad down to West Branch and he did the interview. They also added his written story to the Library of Congress collection.

36 posted on 07/17/2011 9:51:27 PM PDT by Galatians513 (this space available for catchy tagline)
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To: Galatians513

That was an incredible story...thanks so much for posting the link.


37 posted on 07/17/2011 11:15:09 PM PDT by WKUHilltopper (And yet...we continue to tolerate this crap...)
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To: Venturer
> Here is one guy who is glad Harry Truman dropped the big one.

Bill Whittle, a conservative essayist wrote one of the best pieces on this a few years ago. It's a lengthy read but quite worth the time.

“The Truth About the Atomic Bombs”...

http://pajamasmedia.com/ejectejecteject/2009/05/19/the-truth-about-the-atomic-bombs-print-version/

He also has many essays on the Heroes, some recognized for their deeds, but many unsung, who fought and in too many cases died for our country. I thank them all, as well as the many Freepers who serve and who have served for their service.

38 posted on 07/17/2011 11:36:10 PM PDT by ADemocratNoMore (Jeepers, Freepers, where'd 'ya get those sleepers?. Pj people, exposing old media's lies.)
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To: rightly_dividing

An acquaintance of mine, here in my small town, enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1937. He’s 91 now. He was commanding LC’s and got left on Guadalcanal for a few days with the Marines.
He was all over the Pacific in the war, and still comes in for a couple of beers at our local watering hole.
Very unassuming guy, and everyone around here treats him with a great deal of reverence.


39 posted on 07/17/2011 11:48:21 PM PDT by gigster (Cogito, Ergo, Ronaldus Magnus Conservatus)
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To: tiki

Wow. I understand the need to allow your brother to have those. The process of letting our parents go is so hard and in order for a family to make it through that adjustment intact or to at least minimize the damage, it requires genuine love and compassion exercised towards our family members remaining.

Perhaps one day your brother will pass that list his friend made on to you. Or not. We at least know the essence of the courage of these men, and they are the first to deny that the medals were the important things. Their comrades in arms, their God, their families and their nation founded in liberty were the overriding concerns. God bless you and your family.


40 posted on 07/18/2011 5:50:33 AM PDT by TEXOKIE (Anarchy IS the strategy of the forces of darkness!)
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To: Zakeet

My great uncle was a drill instructor who I sat with every Thursday when Grandma went to bingo. He was dying of cancer and he talked very little of his long career in the service, he entered at 16, little proof of age was required at that time. When he died we met soldiers from every State, he was hated and loved. They hated him during training but as we were told, that training saved the lives of many. Even in battle they heard his commanding voice telling them what to do. I wish that I had asked him to relate his stories of the many lives he touched. I do know that he had ranking equal to a college educated officer, something unheard of. My only excuse is that I was to young to understand his contribution.


41 posted on 07/18/2011 6:22:54 AM PDT by Dianer0839 (Due to budget cuts, the light at the end of the tunnel will now be turned off.)
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