Free Thai Movement

Last updated
Free Thai Movement (เสรีไทย)
Participant in World War II
Free Thai insignia.svg
Free Thai shoulder patch
Active1941–1945
Allies United Kingdom and United States
Opponent(s) Phibun regime and Imperial Japan

The Free Thai Movement (Thai : เสรีไทย; RTGS: Seri Thai) was a Thai underground resistance movement against Imperial Japan during World War II. Seri Thai were an important source of military intelligence for the Allies in the region.

Thai language language spoken in Thailand

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.

The Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS) is the official system for rendering Thai words in the Latin alphabet. It was published by the Royal Institute of Thailand.

Thailand Constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia

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.

Contents

Background

In the aftermath of the Japanese invasion of Thailand on 7–8 December 1941, the regime of Plaek Phibunsongkhram (Phibun) declared war on the United Kingdom and the United States on 25 January 1942. [1] Seni Pramoj, the Thai ambassador in Washington, refused to deliver the declaration to the United States government. Accordingly, the United States refrained from declaring war on Thailand. Seni, a conservative aristocrat whose anti-Japanese credentials were well established, organized the Free Thai Movement with American assistance, recruiting Thai students in the United States to work with the United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The OSS trained Thai personnel for underground activities, and units were readied to infiltrate Thailand. By the end of the war, more than 50,000 Thai had been trained and armed to resist the Japanese by Free Thai members who had been parachuted into the country.

Plaek Phibunsongkhram Thai politician and general

Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, locally known as Chomphon Por, contemporarily known as Phibun (Pibul) in the West, was the third and longest serving Prime Minister of Thailand and dictatorial leader of Thailand from 1938 to 1944 and 1948 to 1957.

Declaration of war formal announcement by which one state goes to war against another

A declaration of war is a formal act by which one state goes to war against another. The declaration is a performative speech act by an authorized party of a national government, in order to create a state of war between two or more states.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The UK's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

World War II and Japanese occupation

Phibun's alliance with Japan during the early years of war was initially popular. The Royal Thai Army joined Japan's Burma Campaign with the goal of recovering part of the Shan states previously surrendered to the United Kingdom by the Treaty of Yandabo. They gained the return of the four northernmost Malay states lost in the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909, and with Japanese mediation in the Franco–Thai war they also recovered territory lost in the Franco-Siamese War of 1893.

The Treaty of Yandabo was the peace treaty that ended the First Anglo-Burmese War. The treaty was signed on 24 February 1826, nearly two years after the war formally broke out on 5 March 1824, by General Sir Archibald Campbell on the British side, and the Governor of Legaing Maha Min Hla Kyaw Htin from the Burmese side. With the British army at Yandabo village, only 80 km (50 mi) from the capital Ava, the Burmese were forced to accept the British terms without discussion.

The Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 or Bangkok Treaty of 1909 was a treaty between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Kingdom of Siam signed on 10 March 1909, in Bangkok. Ratifications were exchanged in London on 9 July 1909, and the treaty established the modern Malaysia–Thailand border. The area around modern Pattani, Narathiwat, southernmost Songkhla, Satun, and Yala remained under Thai control, where decades later the South Thailand insurgency would erupt. Thailand relinquished its claims to sovereignty over Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu which entered the British sphere of influence as protectorates. These four states, along with Johor, later became known as the Unfederated Malay States.

Franco-Siamese War 1893 war between France and Siam

The Franco-Siamese War of 1893 was a conflict between the French Third Republic and the Kingdom of Siam. Auguste Pavie, French vice consul in Luang Prabang in 1886, was the chief agent in furthering French interests in Laos. His intrigues, which took advantage of Siamese weakness in the region and periodic invasions by Vietnamese rebels from Tonkin, increased tensions between Bangkok and Paris. Following the conflict, the Siamese agreed to cede Laos to France, an act that led to the significant expansion of French Indochina.

M.L. Karb Kunjara (second from left) with American and Chinese military officers during his Free Thai operations in China. FreeThaiinChina.jpg
M.L. Karb Kunjara (second from left) with American and Chinese military officers during his Free Thai operations in China.

However, Japan had stationed 150,000 troops on Thai soil, and as the war dragged on, the Japanese increasingly treated Thailand as a conquered country rather than an ally. Although the United States had not officially declared war, on 26 December 1942, US Tenth Army Air Force bombers based in India launched the first major bombing raid, [2] which damaged targets in Bangkok and elsewhere and caused several thousand casualties. Public opinion, and even more importantly the sympathies of the civilian political elite, moved perceptibly against Phibun's alliance with Japan.

Pridi and the civilian regime, 1944–1947

In June 1944, Phibun was forced out of office and replaced by the first predominantly civilian government since the 1932 coup. Allied bombing raids continued, and a B-29 raid on Bangkok destroyed the two key power plants on 14 April 1945, leaving the city without power and water. [3] Throughout the bombing campaign, the Seri Thai network was effective in broadcasting weather reports to the Allied air forces and in rescuing downed Allied airmen. [4] The new government was headed by Khuang Aphaiwong, a civilian linked politically with conservatives such as Seni. The most influential figure in the regime, however, was Pridi Banomyong (who was serving as Regent of Thailand), whose anti-Japanese views were increasingly attractive to the Thais. In the last year of the war, Allied agents were tacitly given free access by Bangkok. [5] As the war came to an end, Thailand repudiated its wartime agreements with Japan.

Siamese revolution of 1932

The Siamese revolution of 1932 or the Siamese coup d'état of 1932 was a crucial turning point in 20th-century Thai history. The revolution, in reality a coup d'état, was a nearly bloodless transition on 24 June 1932, which changed the system of government in Siam from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. The "revolution" was brought about by a comparatively small group of military and civilians, who formed Siam's first political party, the Khana Ratsadon. It ended 150 years of absolutism under the Chakri Dynasty and almost 800 years of absolute rule of kings over Thai history. It was a product of global historical change as well as domestic social and political changes. It also resulted in the people of Siam being granted their first constitution.

Khuang Aphaiwong Prime Minister of Thailand

Khuang Aphaiwong, also known by his noble title Luang Kowit-aphaiwong, was three times the prime minister of Thailand: from August 1944 to 1945, from January to May 1946, and from November 1947 to April 1948.

Pridi Banomyong Thai prime minister

Pridi Banomyong was a Thai politician and professor. He was a prime minister and senior statesman of Thailand, and the centenary of his birth was celebrated by UNESCO in 2000.

Unfortunately, the civilian leaders were unable to achieve unity. After falling-out with Pridi, Khuang was replaced as prime minister by the regent's nominee, Seni, who had returned to Thailand from his post as leader of the Free Thai movement in Washington. The scramble for power among factions in late 1945 created political divisions among the civilian leaders that destroyed their potential for making a common stand against the resurgent political force of the Thai military in the immediate postwar years.

Postwar accommodations with the Allies also weakened the civilian government. As a result of the contributions made to the Allied war efforts by the Free Thai Movement, the United States, which unlike other Allied countries had never officially been at war with Thailand, refrained from dealing with Thailand as an enemy country in postwar peace negotiations. Before signing a peace treaty, however, the United Kingdom demanded war reparations in the form of rice shipments to Malaya, and France refused to permit admission of Thailand to the United Nations (UN) until the Indochinese areas regained by the Thais during the war were returned to France. The Soviet Union insisted on the repeal of Thailand's anti-communist legislation.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Communist Party of Thailand Thai communist party

The Communist Party of Thailand was a communist party in Thailand active from 1942 until the 1990s.

Heritage

Sakon Nakhon historical attractions include a cave well camouflaged by lush vegetation called Tham Seree Thai (ถ้ำเสรีไทย "Seri Thai Cave"), that was used for storage of arms and food during World War II.

List of famous Free Thai members

From the front row left to right: Police General Adun Adundetcharat, Ambassador Seni Pramoj and future Prime Minister Pridi Phanomyong FreeThaiLeaders.jpg
From the front row left to right: Police General Adun Adundetcharat, Ambassador Seni Pramoj and future Prime Minister Pridi Phanomyong
Free Thais who received the Medal of Freedom in 1945. From left to right: Air Chief Marshall Dawee Chullasapya, Major General Boonmark Tesabutr, Commander Vimol Viriyavidh, Piset Pattaphongs, M.C. Yuthisatien Sawadivatana, M.L. Ekachai Kumpoo, Anond Srivardhana, Dr. Sala Tsanond, Air Marshal Sith Savetsila, Umnuay Poonpipatana, Udomsak Pasavanij, Kusa Punyarchun, Somjit Yos-sunthorn. FreeThaiMedalofFreedom.jpg
Free Thais who received the Medal of Freedom in 1945. From left to right: Air Chief Marshall Dawee Chullasapya, Major General Boonmark Tesabutr, Commander Vimol Viriyavidh, Piset Pattaphongs, M.C. Yuthisatien Sawadivatana, M.L. Ekachai Kumpoo, Anond Srivardhana, Dr. Sala Tsanond, Air Marshal Sith Savetsila, Umnuay Poonpipatana, Udomsak Pasavanij, Kusa Punyarchun, Somjit Yos-sunthorn.

See also

Related Research Articles

History of Thailand Aspect of Southeast Asian history

The Thai people, who originally lived in southwestern China, migrated into mainland Southeast Asia over a period of many centuries. The word Siam may have originated from Pali or Sanskrit श्याम or Mon ရာမည, probably the same root as Shan and Ahom. Chinese: 暹羅; pinyin: Xiānluó was the name for the northern kingdom centred on Sukhothai and Sawankhalok, but to the Thai themselves, the name of the country has always been Mueang Thai.

Ananda Mahidol King of Thailand

Ananda Mahidol, posthumous reigning title Phra Athamaramathibodin, was the eighth monarch of Siam from the Chakri dynasty as Rama VIII. At the time he was recognised as king by the National Assembly in March 1935, he was a nine-year-old boy living in Switzerland. He returned to Thailand in December 1945, but six months later, in June 1946, he was found shot dead in his bed. Although at first thought to have been an accident, his death was ruled a murder by medical examiners, and three royal pages were later executed following very irregular trials. The mysterious circumstances surrounding his death have been the subject of much controversy.

The Democrat Party is a Thai political party. The oldest party in Thailand, it was founded as a conservative and royalist party, and now upholds a conservative-liberal and classically liberal pro-market position.

History of Thailand (1932–1973) aspect of history

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.

Seni Pramoj Thai politician

Mom Rajawongse Seni Pramoj was three times the prime minister of Thailand, a politician in the Democrat Party, lawyer, diplomat and professor. A descendant of the Thai royal family, he was the great-grandson of King Rama II. His final two terms as PM sandwiched the only term of his brother, Kukrit Pramoj.

Dawee Chullasapya Thai Air Force air marshal

Dawee Chullasapya or Chullasap was a Royal Thai Air Force officer, and a member of the Seri Thai.

Sang Phathanothai was a Thai politician, union leader, and journalist. He was one of the closest advisors to Field Marshal Phibunsongkhram.

Luang Wichitwathakan Thai historian and author

Major-General Luang Wichitwathakan was a Thai politician, diplomat, historian, novelist, and playwright. He was the originator and prime mover responsible for changing the name of the country from Siam to Thailand.

Tiang Sirikhanth was a Thai politician and a Seri Thai resistance leader during World War II.

Direk Jayanama Thai politician

Direk Jayanama was a Thai diplomat and politician.

Memorial Bridge (Bangkok) bridge crossing Chao Phraya River, Thailand

The Memorial Bridge is a bascule bridge over the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand, connecting the districts of Phra Nakhon and Thonburi.

Thailand in World War II

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 Siam 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.

Japan–Thailand relations Diplomatic relations between Japan and the Kingdom of Thailand

Japan–Thailand relations refer to bilateral relations between Japan and Thailand. Contacts had an early start with Japanese trade on Red seal ships and the installation of Japanese communities on Siamese soil, only to be broken off with Japan's period of seclusion. Contacts resumed in the 19th century and developed to the point where Japan is today one of Thailand's foremost economic partners. Thailand and Japan share the distinction of never having lost sovereignty to the European powers during the colonial period.

Bombing of South-East Asia (1944–45)

From 1944 to 1945, during the final stage of World War II, the Allies undertook the strategic bombing of South-East Asia. The main targets of Allied air raids were Thailand and Japanese-occupied Indochina.

Siamese coup détat of 1947

The Siamese coup d'état of 1947 was a Thai coup d'état that happened on the evening of 7 November 1947, ending in the early hours of the morning on 8 November. The coup ousted the government of Rear Admiral Thawan Thamrongnawasawat, who was replaced by Khuang Aphaiwong as Prime Minister of Thailand. The coup was led by Lieutenant-General Phin Chunhawan and Colonel Kat Katsongkhram.

Saharat Thai Doem

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.

Lieutenant General Prayoon Pamornmontri is a former Thai soldier, politician, and member of Khana Ratsadon. He participated in the Siamese Revolution of 1932 to promote democracy by overthrowing the absolute monarchy.

References

  1. Andrew Glass. "Thailand declares war on United States and Britain, Jan. 25, 1942". POLITICO. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  2. Stearn, Duncan (30 May 2003). "Allies attack Thailand, 1942–1945". Pattaya Mail. Pattaya . Retrieved 26 October 2011. On 26 December 1942 bombers of the United States’ Tenth Air Force, based in India, launched the first major strike
  3. Stearn, Allies attack
  4. Stearn, Duncan (2 April 2004). "Shot Down and Rescued". Pattaya Mail. Pattaya . Retrieved 2 October 2011. Many Thais resented the presence of Japanese forces in their country, especially since these soldiers acted more like occupiers than friends. Whenever the opportunity arose to hinder the progress of Japanese war aims, some Thais would do so.
  5. Stearn, Duncan (16 April 2004). "To Bangkok". Pattaya Mail. Pattaya . Retrieved 2 October 2011. The downed fliers were taken to Thai police headquarters where some of them received first aid and, as evening fell, they were allowed outside to wash themselves in a large pool of water.

Further reading