During the war, when he was in his 20s, Leendert was a sergeant mechanic in the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL). He was forced to work on the Burma Railway. Begun in October 1942 and completed on 16 October 1943, the Burma Railway stretched 415 kilometres between Nong Pladuk in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Burma (now Myanmar). It was built by order of Japan during World War II to support its forces in the Burma campaign.
The terrain the railway crossed made its construction very difficult. Hellfire Pass in the Tenasserim Hills was a particularly difficult section of the line to build due to it being the largest rock cutting on the railway, coupled with its general remoteness and the lack of proper construction tools during building. The most famous portion of the railway is Bridge 277, 'the bridge over the River Kwai', which was built over a stretch of river.
About 180,000 Asian labourers and 60,000 Allied prisoners of war (POWs) worked on the Burma Railway. Of these, around 90,000 Asian labourers and 16,000 Allied POWs died as a direct result of the project. The dead POWs included 6,318 British personnel, 2,815 Australians, 2,490 Dutch, about 356 Americans and a smaller number of Canadians and New Zealanders.
One of them was Leendert Arend Jan Bos who died on June 19, 1943, in Tamarkan, Thailand. He was buried on the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
|A monument in Numansdorp remembering L. Bos and others|