The Dutch had investigated the possibility of a railway to connect the east and west coasts of Sumatra in order to allow access to coal fields which had been established inland. This new line was to join the existing line which ran from Padang to Muaro. The dense Indonesian jungle that the local Indonesians and POW’s had to work through The Dutch scrapped the railway plans due to the harsh conditions that workers would have to endure.
As the Japanese invaded in 1942 these plans were rediscovered and the 220km long railway between Muaro and Pekanbaru was put into action. This railway would allow the Japanese to move easily between coasts, and access the resource rich interior of Sumatra, while avoiding the sea which was heavily patrolled by allied warships. The local work force, along with POW’s captured as the colonies fell, were rounded up and work on the railway began in April 1943. However, the POW’s would not work on the railway until 1944. More than 120,000 Indonesian labourers, called Romusha by the Japanese, were used as the main workforce on the railway. They built the embankments and cuttings through the jungle and along the gorges. The attrition rate of the local work force was unfathomable with reports at the end of the war estimating only 16,000 had survived. Pekanbaru Death Railwayy
Casualty List Below is a list of the known POW’s who perished building the railway from Pekanbaru to Muaro. If you can’t find a name that you are looking for but know that they died on the railway, let me know and i will update the list.