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When Thailand Went to War in Europe during World War I

 
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Yvonne
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Aug 2012 12:45    Onderwerp: When Thailand Went to War in Europe during World War I Reageer met quote

When Thailand Went to War in Europe during World War I

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The Great War it was called, later to be called World War I, the “War to End All Wars”. Everyone knows about the involvement of Great Britain and France with other assorted European allies against the Central Powers of Germany, Austro-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. This is the war that changed the face of Europe and the Colonial Powers, but few remember that Thailand (then known as Siam) was also part of the Great War in Europe.

The move by Thailand to help Great Britain and France was a strategic diplomatic move on the part of the King, Rama VI, King Vajiravudh. Thailand had a friendly relationship with Germany prior to entering the war, and actually had an antagonistic relationship with both Britain and France, but when in 1917, the United States entered the conflict, it was obvious that victory was going to be realized by the Western allies, so at that time Siam declared War against Germany and the other States of the Central Powers.

The monarch was convinced that participation would be “…an excellent opportunity for us to gain equality with other nations.” Thailand had suffered from the colonial actions of France with some skirmishes that resulted in the loss of control of Laos and Cambodia, and also had a dispute with colonial powers from Britain that resulted in Thailand ceding four southern provinces to Malaysia in the years between 1889 and 1909. Additionally, Thailand was forced to accept the imposition of unequal treaties with England, France and the United States that gave citizens from those countries extraordinary rights within Thailand. King Rama VI was hopeful that Thai participation in the Great War would allow a revision of these unequal treaties, and position Siam on the same level with these countries.

On 22 July 1917, despite the misgivings of many members of the Royal government, King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. The Thais immediately took over and later seized no less than 12 ocean-going ships of the North German Line (NGL) that were in Siam territory.

Thailand sent a small expeditionary force consisting of 1,284 volunteers to serve with the British and French forces on the Western Front. Included was a contingent of the Army Air Corps. The Thais arrived in 1918, and after some training with the French Air Corp, over 95 men qualified as pilots. Thai pilots made their first sorties over German troops in the final weeks of the war.

There was also a medical unit which included Thai nurses and it is claimed these were the only women to serve in the trenches of the Western Front during the war.

During the war, 19 Thai soldiers died on the front. With the ending of the War, the Thai contingent marched in a victory parade in Paris under the Arc de triomphe de l’Etoile on 19 July 1919 and arrived back in Thailand on 21 September 1919. Siam also gained, as spoils of war, the impounded German ships for use in its merchant marine.

A war memorial was erected in honor of the troops and stands in Sanam Luang park in Bangkok. Inscribed are the names of the 19 soldiers killed in action on the Western Front. The ashes of the fallen soldiers were placed inside the memorial.

Thailand also participated in the Versailles Peace Conference. In January 1920 Thailand became a founding member of the League of Nations. On 1 September 1920, the King’s decision to go to war was vindicated when the United States ceded her extraterritorial rights granted in the unfair treaty. France, after five years of extensive negotiations relinquished her rights in February 1925 while Britain signed a treaty to the same effect in July the same year.

The truth of the matter was that many Thais hoped Germany and Austro-Hungary would win the war, understandably resenting the British and French for their imperialism that had also cost their nation territory -parts of Burma and Malaysia and all of Laos, then part of Indo-China that previously belonged to Thailand. It was only when America entered the war did the King see what the outcome was very likely to be and quickly decided it was expedient to be on the winning side. During the late 19th century and early in the 20th century, British and French colonial advances in Southeast Asia posed serious threats to Siam’s independence and forced Siam to relinquish its claims in Cambodia, Laos, and the northern Malay states. Although much diminished in territory by the 1910s, Siam preserved its independence, and the kingdom served as a buffer state between the British and French colonies.


Despite this European colonial history that was detrimental to Siam, King Vajiravudh’s leaning to the Western allies may be no surprise. He was the first Thai king to be educated overseas, having studied at Oxford, trained at Sandhurst and served in the British Light Infantry.


http://americanexpatchiangmai.com/when-thailand-went-to-war-in-europe-during-world-war-i/
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Aug 2012 12:46    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

A story of dignity, bravery and the dream of Thailand's first aviators during World War I. Despite heavy resistance from the locals who had never seen airplanes before, Luang Kaj Yuthakarn, the founder of Thailand's first aviation unit, successfully made the impossible real. Duang, a young peasant, aspired to be part of the first Thai aviators and made the first historic flight in Thai sky.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VQP_XnOeHY&feature=player_embedded#!
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Aug 2012 14:40    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Nooit geweten, interessant!
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BerichtGeplaatst: 18 Sep 2012 11:39    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?t=920
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