Siam and WWII

Siam and WWII - April 11, 2005
An interesting series of articles in the Malaysian newspaper, The Star, has a rather unflattering appraisal of Siam's role in WWII
Thais fought, but...
...The rest of the world, and Malaysians in particular, believe that Thailand (or Siam, as it was known then) simply stood by and allowed Japanese troops to march through on their way to conquer Malaya and Singapore in 1941.
Many Thais, however, will have you know their soldiers put up a good fight.
Their resistance may have lasted just six hours but, to the residents of Nakhon Si Thammarat province, it was a major battle...
Nakhon Thai War Veterans Organisation branch head Col Somphon Suprasert said the fighting in Thailand was brief but brutal, with the Thai defenders managing to inflict severe losses on the Japanese. However, the fighting was “a mistake” because, Col Somphon explained, there was a secret pact between Bangkok and Tokyo in 1940 that paved the way for Japan to march through Thai territory unopposed...

Memories of friendly invaders
..."Then, the first thing they did was climb up telephone poles to cut the wires. I think some local folk shot at them. The Japanese were brave ... one fell but another took his place. They didn’t care about been shot,” he recalled, adding: "Later, they moved swiftly into the town centre."
..."It was utter confusion. The Japanese then started the aerial bombing of Songkhla and my uncle – he was a trader – was killed in the blasts."
..."It was a good period for us. The Japanese were friendly and some soldiers became traders and conducted commercial activities alongside their Thai counterparts. Trade was thriving."

Co-operate or perish
Thailand had little choice other than to cooperate with Japan because it was threatened with the destruction of its capital, Bangkok, if it resisted.
It was the most practical thing to do, said Chatchai Sugrakanchana of Rajabhat University Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Offering a Thai perspective on WWII, Chatchai said the Thai leadership made a wise decision as the country was then spared the full horror of war...

Logical route to Singapore
...Also, the good network of trunk roads that ran from Singora, present-day Songkhla, all the way down the Malayan peninsula to Singapore would make progress relatively easy for Lt Gen Tomoyuki Yamashita’s 25th Army...
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