The Franco-Thai War (Thai : กรณีพิพาทอินโดจีน; French : Guerre franco-thaïlandaise) (1940–1941) was fought between Thailand and Vichy France over certain areas of French Indochina.
Thai, Central Thai, is the sole official and national language of Thailand and the first language of the Central Thai people and vast majority of Thai Chinese. It is a member of the Tai group of the Kra–Dai language family. Over half of Thai vocabulary is derived from or borrowed from Pali, Sanskrit, Mon and Old Khmer. It is a tonal and analytic language, similar to Chinese and Vietnamese.
French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam, is a country at the centre of the Southeast Asian Indochinese peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At 513,120 km2 (198,120 sq mi) and over 68 million people, Thailand is the world's 50th largest country by total area and the 21st-most-populous country. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, a special administrative area. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. Although nominally a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the most recent coup in 2014 established a de facto military dictatorship.
Negotiations with France shortly before World War II had shown that the French government was willing to make appropriate changes in the boundaries between Thailand and French Indochina, but only slightly. Following the Fall of France in 1940, Major-General Plaek Pibulsonggram (popularly known as "Phibun"), the prime minister of Thailand, decided that France's defeat gave the Thais an even better chance to regain the vassal state territories that were ceded to France during King Chulalongkorn's reign.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
Chulalongkorn, also known as King Rama V, reigning title Phra Chula Chom Klao Chao Yu Hua, was the fifth monarch of Siam under the House of Chakri. He was known to the Siamese of his time as Phra Phuttha Chao Luang. His reign was characterized by the modernization of Siam, governmental and social reforms, and territorial concessions to the British and French. As Siam was threatened by Western expansionism, Chulalongkorn, through his policies and acts, managed to save Siam from colonization. All his reforms were dedicated to ensuring Siam's survival in the face of Western colonialism, so that Chulalongkorn earned the epithet Phra Piya Maharat.
The German military occupation of a large part of France made France's hold on its overseas possessions, including Indochina, difficult. The colonial administration was now cut off from outside help and outside supplies. After the Japanese invasion of French Indochina in September 1940, the French were forced to allow Japan to set up military bases. This seemingly subservient behaviour convinced the Phibun regime that France would not seriously resist a confrontation with Thailand.
The French military forces in Indochina consisted of an army of approximately 50,000 men, 12,000 of whom were French, organised into forty-one infantry battalions, two artillery regiments, and a battalion of engineers.The French army had a shortage of armour, and it could field only 20 Renault FT tanks against the nearly one hundred armoured vehicles of the Royal Thai Army. The bulk of the French forces stationed near the Thai border consisted of the Indochinese troops of the 3rd and 4th Regiments of Tirailleurs Tonkinois (Tonkinese Rifles), together with a battalion of Montagnards, French regulars of the Colonial Infantry, and French Foreign Legion units.
The Renault FT was a French light tank that was among the most revolutionary and influential tank designs in history. The FT was the first production tank to have its armament within a fully rotating turret. The Renault FT's configuration – crew compartment at the front, engine compartment at the back, and main armament in a revolving turret – became and remains the standard tank layout. Consequently, some historians of armoured warfare have called the Renault FT the world's first modern tank.
The Royal Thai Army or RTA is the army of Thailand responsible for protecting its sovereignty and national interests. It is the oldest and largest branch of the Royal Thai Armed Forces.
The Tonkinese Rifles were a corps of Tonkinese light infantrymen raised in 1884 to support the operations of the Tonkin Expeditionary Corps. Led by French officers seconded from the marine infantry, Tonkinese riflemen fought in several engagements against the Chinese during the Sino-French War and took part in expeditions against Vietnamese insurgents during the subsequent French Pacification of Tonkin. The French also organized similar units of indigenous riflemen from Annam and Cambodia. All three categories of indigenous soldiers were known in Vietnam as Lính tập,
The French navy in Indochina had one light cruiser and four Avisos.
A light cruiser is a type of small- or medium-sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck. Prior to this smaller cruisers had been of the protected cruiser model, possessing armored decks only. While lighter and smaller than other contemporary ships they were still true cruisers, retaining the extended radius of action and self-sufficiency to act independently across the world. Through their history they served in a variety of roles, primarily as convoy escorts and destroyer command ships, but also as scouts and fleet support vessels for battle fleets.
The Armée de l'Air had approximately 100 aircraft, of which about 60 could be considered front line. These included thirty Potez 25 TOE reconnaissance/fighters-bombers, four Farman 221 heavy bombers, six Potez 542 bombers, nine Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 fighters, and eight Loire 130 reconnaissance/bombers flying boats.
Potez 25 was a French twin-seat, single-engine biplane designed during the 1920s. A multi-purpose fighter-bomber, it was designed as a line aircraft and used in a variety of roles, including fighter and escort missions, tactical bombing and reconnaissance missions. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Potez 25 was the standard multi-purpose aircraft of over 20 air forces, including French, Polish and. It was also popular among private operators, notably mail transport companies.
The Farman F.220 and its derivatives were thick-sectioned, high-winged, four engined monoplanes from Farman Aviation Works. Based on the push-pull configuration proven by the F.211, design started in August 1925 and the first flight of the prototype was on 26 May 1932. The definitive F.222 variant was the biggest bomber to serve in France between the world wars. One variant was designed as an airliner.
The Potez 540 was a French multi-role aircraft of the 1930s. Designed and built by Potez, it served with the French Air Force as a reconnaissance bomber, also serving with the Spanish Republican Air Force during the Spanish Civil War. Although obsolete as a bomber, it remained in service in support roles and in France's overseas colonies at the start of World War II.
The slightly larger Thai Army was a relatively well-equipped force.Consisting of 60,000 men, it was made up of four armies. The largest were the Burapha Army with five divisions and the Isan Army with three divisions. Independent formations under direct control of the army high command included two motorised cavalry battalions, one artillery battalion, one signals battalion, one engineer battalion, and one armoured regiment. The artillery was a mixture of Krupp guns and modern Bofors guns and Howitzers, while 60 Carden Loyd tankettes and 30 Vickers 6-ton tanks made up the bulk of the army's tank force.
The Royal Thai Navy included two Thonburi coastal defence ships, 12 torpedo boats, and four Japanese-made submarines.The Thai navy was inferior to the French naval forces, but the Royal Thai Air Force held both a quantitative and qualitative edge over the local Armée de l'Air units. Among the 140 aircraft that composed the air force's first-line strength were 24 Mitsubishi Ki-30 light bombers, nine Mitsubishi Ki-21 medium bombers, 25 Curtiss Hawk 75N pursuit fighter planes, six Martin B-10 medium bombers, and 70 Vought O2U Corsair observation/attacker aircraft.
While nationalist demonstrations and anti-French rallies were being held in Bangkok, several border skirmishes erupted along the Mekong frontier. The superior Royal Thai Air Force then conducted daytime bombing runs over military targets in Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Sisophon, and Battambang with impunity. The French retaliated with their own air attacks, but the damage they caused was less than equal. The activities of the Thai air force, particularly in the field of dive-bombing,was such that Admiral Jean Decoux, the governor of French Indochina, grudgingly remarked that the Thai planes seemed to have been flown by men with plenty of war experience.
On 5 January 1941, following the report of a French attack on the Thai border town of Aranyaprathet, the Thai Burapha and Isan Armies launched an offensive on Laos and Cambodia. French response was instantaneous, but many units were simply swept aside by the better-equipped Thai forces. The Thai army swiftly overran Laos, but the French forces in Cambodia managed to rally and offer more resistance.
At dawn on 16 January 1941, the French launched a large counterattack on the Thai-held villages of Yang Dang Khum and Phum Preav, initiating the fiercest battle of the war. Due to poor co-ordination and non-existent intelligence against the entrenched and prepared Thai forces, the French operation was stopped and fighting ended with a French retreat from the area. However, the Thais were unable to pursue the retreating French, as their forward tanks were kept in check by the gunnery of French Foreign Legion artillery.
With the situation on land rapidly deteriorating for the French, Admiral Decoux ordered all available French naval forces into action in the Gulf of Thailand. In the early morning of 17 January, a French naval squadron caught a Thai naval detachment by surprise at anchor off Ko Chang island. The subsequent Battle of Ko Chang was a tactical victory for the French and resulted in the sinking of two Thai torpedo boats and the disabling of a coastal defence ship, with the French suffering only minor casualties. Fearing the war would turn in France's favour, the Japanese intervened, proposing an armistice be signed.
On 24 January, the final air battle took place when Thai bombers raided the French airfield at Angkor, near Siem Reap. The last Thai mission bombing Phnom Penh commenced at 07:10 on 28 January, when the Martins of the 50th Bomber Squadron set out on a raid on Sisophon, escorted by thirteen Hawk 75Ns of the 60th Fighter Squadron.
Japan stepped in to mediate the conflict. A Japanese-sponsored "Conference for the Cessation of Hostilities" was held at Saigon, and preliminary documents for a ceasefire between the governments of Marshal Philippe Pétain's French State and the Kingdom of Thailand were signed aboard the cruiser Natori on 31 January 1941. A general armistice had been arranged to go into effect at 10:00 on 28 January. On 9 May, a peace treaty was signed in Tokyo,with the French being coerced by the Japanese to relinquish their hold on the disputed border territories. France ceded the following provinces to Thailand from Cambodia and Laos:
The resolution of the conflict was widely acclaimed by the Thai people and was seen as a personal triumph for Phibun. For the first time, Thailand had been able to extract concessions from a European power, albeit a weakened one. For the French in French Indochina, the conflict was a bitter reminder of their isolation after the Fall of France and felt that an ambitious neighbour had taken advantage of a distant colony cut off from her weakened parent. Without hope of reinforcements, the French had little chance of offering a sustained resistance.
To commemorate the victory, Phibun had the Victory Monument built. Thailand invited Japan and Germany to join the celebration.
The Japanese wanted to maintain both their working relationship with Vichy and the status quo; therefore, the Thais were forced to accept only a quarter of the territory that they gained from the French, in addition to having to pay six million piastres as a concession to the French.
However, the real beneficiaries of the conflict were the Japanese, who were able to expand their influence in both Thailand and Indochina. The Japanese wanted to use Thailand and Indochina as their military bases to invade British Burma and British Malaya later. The Japanese won from Phibun a secret verbal promise to support them in an attack on Malaya and Burma. Phibun did not keep his word.
Relations between Japan and Thailand were subsequently stressed, as a disappointed Phibun switched to courting the British and Americans to ward off what he saw as an imminent Japanese invasion.However, on 8 December 1941, the Japanese invaded Thailand at the same time as the Japanese invasion of Malaya. It was immediately before the attack on Pearl Harbor because of the International Date Line. Pearl Harbor was attacked one-and-a-half hours after Malaya and Thailand were.
After the war, in October 1946, northwestern Cambodia and the two Lao enclaves on the Thai side of the Mekong River were returned to French sovereignty when the French provisional government threatened to veto Thailand's membership in the United Nations.
The French army suffered a total of 321 casualties, of whom 15 were officers. The total number of missing after 28 January was 178 (six officers, 14 non-commissioned officers and 158 enlisted men).The Thais had captured 222 men (17 North Africans, 80 Frenchmen, and 125 Indochinese).
The Thai army suffered 54 men killed in action and 307 wounded.41 sailors and marines of the Thai navy were killed, and 67 wounded. At the Battle of Ko Chang, 36 men were killed, of whom 20 belonged to HTMS Thonburi, 14 to HTMS Songkhla, and two to HTMS Chonburi. The Thai air force lost 13 men. The number of Thai military personnel captured by the French was just 21.
About 30 percent of the French aircraft were rendered unserviceable by the end of the war, some as a result of minor damage sustained in air raids that remained unrepaired.The Armée de l'Air admitted the loss of one Farman F221 and two Morane M.S.406s destroyed on the ground, but its losses were really greater.
In its first experience of combat, the Royal Thai Air Force claimed to have shot down five French aircraft and destroyed 17 on the ground, against the loss of three of its own in the air and another five to 10 destroyed in French air raids on Thai airfields.
The Laotian Civil War (1959–75) was fought between the Communist Pathet Lao and the Royal Lao Government, with both sides receiving heavy external support in a proxy war between the global Cold War superpowers. It is called the Secret War among the CIA Special Activities Division and Hmong veterans of the conflict.
The Armée de l'Air is the name used for the French Air Force in its native language since it was made independent of the Army in 1933. This article deals exclusively with the history of the French air force from its earliest beginnings until its destruction after the occupation of France. French naval aviation, the Aéronautique Navale is covered elsewhere.
The South-East Asian Theatre of World War II was the name given to the campaigns of the Pacific War in Burma, Ceylon, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Indochina, Malaya and Singapore. Conflict in this theatre began when the Empire of Japan invaded French Indochina in September 1940 and rose to a new level following the raid on Pearl Harbor, and simultaneous attacks on Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Malaya on 7 and 8 December 1941. The main landing at Singora on the east side of the Isthmus of Kra preceded the bombing of Pearl Harbor by several hours. Action in the theatre officially ended on 9 September 1945.
The history of Thailand from 1932 to 1973 was dominated by military dictatorships which were in power for much of the period. The main personalities of the period were the dictator Luang Phibunsongkhram, who allied the country with Japan during the Second World War, and the civilian politician Pridi Phanomyong, who founded Thammasat University and was briefly prime minister after the war.
The Malayan Campaign was a military campaign fought by Allied and Axis forces in Malaya, from 8 December 1941 – 31 January 1942 during the Second World War. It was dominated by land battles between British Commonwealth army units, and the Imperial Japanese Army with minor skirmishes at the beginning of the campaign between British Commonwealth and Royal Thai Armed Forces. The Japanese had air and naval supremacy from the opening days of the campaign. For the British, Indian, Australian and Malayan forces defending the colony, the campaign was a total disaster.
The military history of Thailand encompasses a thousand years of armed struggle, from wars of independence from the powerful Khmer Empire, through to struggles with her regional rivals of Burma and Vietnam and periods of tense standoff and conflict with the colonial empires of Britain and France. Thailand's military history, dominated by her centrality in the south-eastern Asian region, the significance of her far flung and often hostile terrain, and the changing nature of military technology, has had a decisive impact on the evolution of both Thailand and her neighbours as modern nation states. In the post-war era, Thailand's military relationship with the United States has seen her play an important role in both the Cold War and the recent War on Terror, whilst her military's involvement in domestic politics has brought frequent international attention.
The Battle of Ko Chang took place on 17 January 1941 during the Franco-Thai War in which a flotilla of French warships attacked a smaller force of Thai vessels, including a coastal defence ship. The battle resulted in a tactical victory by the French Navy over the Royal Thai Navy although the strategic result is disputed. The Japanese intervened diplomatically and mediated a ceasefire.
Phra Tabong Province was a province of Thailand, from the late-18th century until it was ceded to French Indochina in 1907, and again between 1941-1946 after Thailand recaptured it during the Japanese occupation of Cambodia in World War II.
The Japanese invasion of Thailand occurred on 8 December 1941. It was briefly fought between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Empire of Japan. Despite fierce fighting in Southern Thailand, the fighting lasted only five hours before ending in a ceasefire. Thailand and Japan then formed an alliance, making Thailand part of the Axis' alliance until the end of World War II.
The Battle of Borneo was a successful campaign by Japanese Imperial forces for control of Borneo island and concentrated mainly on the subjugation of the Kingdom of Sarawak, Brunei, North Borneo, and the western part of Kalimantan that was part of the Dutch East Indies. The Japanese main unit for this mission was the 35th Infantry Brigade led by Major-General Kiyotake Kawaguchi.
The Japanese coup d'état in French Indochina, known as Meigo Sakusen, was a Japanese operation that took place on 9 March 1945 towards the end of World War II. With Japanese forces losing the war and the threat of an Allied invasion of Indochina imminent, the Japanese were concerned about an uprising against them by French colonial forces.
The Army of the Levant identifies the armed forces of France and then Vichy France which occupied, and were in part recruited from, a portion of the "Levant" during the interwar period and early World War II. The locally recruited Syrian, Lebanese, Circassian, Kurdish and Druze units of this force were designated as the Special Troops of the Levant.
Thailand in World War II officially adopted a position of neutrality until it was invaded by Japan in December 1941 which led to an armistice and, later, the military alliance treaty between Thailand and the Japanese Empire. At the start of the Pacific War, the Japanese Empire pressured the Thai government to allow the passage of Japanese troops to invade British-held Malaya and Burma. The Thai government under Plaek Phibunsongkhram considered it profitable to co-operate with the Japanese war efforts, since Thailand saw Japan – who promised to help Thailand regain some of the Indochinese territories which had been lost to France – as an ally against Western imperialism. Axis-aligned Thailand declared war on the United States and Britain and annexed territories in neighbouring countries, expanding to the north, south, and east, gaining a border with China near Kengtung.
The Japanese occupation of Cambodia was the period of Cambodian history during World War II when the Kingdom of Cambodia was occupied by the Japanese. The Vichy French, who were a client state of Nazi Germany, nominally maintained a French protectorate over Cambodia and other parts of Indochina during most of the Japanese occupation. This territory of Cambodia was reduced, by concessions to Thailand after the Franco-Thai War, so that it did not include Steung Treng Province, Battambang Province, and Siem Reap Province.
The Corps Léger d'Intervention (CLI) was a Pacific War interarm corps of the Far East French Expeditionary Forces commanded by Général de corps d'armée Roger Blaizot and using guerrilla warfare against the Imperial Japanese Army who occupied French Indochina since 1941. It was created by General Charles de Gaulle in 1943 and modeled after the British Chindits Special Forces who fought in the Burma Campaign.
In the northern-hemisphere summer of 1940 Germany rapidly defeated the French Third Republic, and colonial administration of French Indochina passed to the French State. In September 1940 Japanese troops first entered parts of Indochina; and in July 1941 Japan extended its control over the whole of French Indochina. The United States, concerned by Japanese expansion, started putting embargoes on exports of steel and oil to Japan from July 1940. The desire to escape these embargoes and to become self-sufficient in resources ultimately contributed to Japan's decision to attack on December 7, 1941 the British Empire and simultaneously the USA and at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii). This led to the USA declaring war against Japan on December 8, 1941. The US then joined the British Empire, already at war with Germany since 1939, and its existing allies in the fight against the Axis powers.
Lan Chang Province was a former province of the Kingdom of Thailand. It encompassed the eastern slopes of the Luang Prabang Range in Laos, with Xaignabouli (Sainyabuli) as the administrative headquarters. It included parts of former the Luang Prabang and Xaignabouli provinces of French Laos.
Saharat Thai Doem was an administrative division of Thailand. It encompassed the parts of Shan State of British Burma annexed by the Thai government after the Japanese invasion of Burma.
Unity was the code name for Thailand's covert supply of mercenary soldiers to the Kingdom of Laos during the Laotian Civil War. From 4 July 1964 until March 1973, battalions of Thai volunteers fought Communist insurgents on the Plain of Jars in Military Region 2. As the Hmong L'Armée Clandestine was sapped by ongoing casualties and a limited basis for replacements, Unity battalions replaced them.