The Info List - Franco-Thai War

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Japanese-mediated ceasefire[2]

Territorial changes On Japanese decision, disputed territories in French Indochina
French Indochina
ceded by France
to Thailand[3]:22[4]:78


 Vichy France

French Indochina


Commanders and leaders

Jean Decoux Plaek Phibunsongkhram


12,000 regulars 38,000 colonials 20 light tanks ~100 aircraft 1 light cruiser 4 avisos (sloop) 60,000 regulars 134 tanks ~140 aircraft[5] 2 coastal defence ships 12 torpedo boats 4 submarines

Casualties and losses

Land: 321 killed or wounded 178 missing 222 captured 22 aircraft destroyed Sea: 11 killed 1 light cruiser damaged Total: 732+ casualties Land: 54 killed[6] 307 wounded 21 captured 8–13 aircraft destroyed Sea: 36 killed 2 torpedo boats sunk 1 coastal defense ship grounded Total: 418+ casualties

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Franco-Thai War

Battle of Yang Dang Khum Battle of Phum Preav Battle of Ko Chang Battle of Angkor Bombing of Phnom Penh

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Pacific War

Central Pacific

Hawaii Marshalls-Gilberts raids Doolittle Raid Coral Sea Midway RY Solomons Gilberts & Marshalls Marianas & Palau Volcano & Ryukyu Truk

Southeast Asia

Indochina (1940) Indian Ocean (1940–45) Philippines 1941–42 Franco-Thai War Thailand Dutch East Indies Malaya Hong Kong Singapore Indochina (1945) Malacca Strait Jurist Tiderace Zipper Strategic bombing (1944–45)


(1941–42) Burma
(1942–43) Burma
(1944) Burma

Southwest Pacific

Dutch East Indies 1941–42 Portuguese Timor Australia New Guinea Philippines 1944–45 Borneo 1945

North America

Attack on Pearl Harbor Ellwood K Aleutian Islands Estevan Point Lighthouse Fort Stevens Lookout Air Raids Fire balloon Project Hula PX


Air raids Mariana Islands Volcano & Ryukyu Is Tokyo Starvation Naval bombardments Yokosuka Sagami Bay Kure Downfall Hiroshima & Nagasaki Kurils Karafuto Japanese surrender


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Second Sino-Japanese War

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Military actions of Vichy France
Vichy France
during World War II

Mers-el-Kébir Gibraltar Dakar Gabon Saint Pierre and Miquelon Indochina (1940) Franco-Thai War
Franco-Thai War
(Ko Chang) Syria–Lebanon Madagascar Réunion Torch Anton Toulon

The Franco-Thai War
Franco-Thai War
(Thai: กรณีพิพาทอินโดจีน French: Guerre franco-thaïlandaise) (1940–1941) was fought between Thailand
(Siam) and France
over certain areas of French Indochina. Negotiations with France
shortly before World War II
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. 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
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.


1 Opposing forces

1.1 French 1.2 Thai

2 Campaign 3 Results

3.1 Armistice 3.2 Treaty 3.3 Casualties

4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links

Opposing forces[edit] French[edit]

French colonial troops poster

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.[7] The most obvious deficiency of the French army was its shortage of armour. 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 Tirailleurs Tonkinois, together with a battalion of Montagnards, French regulars of the Colonial Infantry, and French Foreign Legion units.[8] The French navy in Indochina had one light cruiser and four Avisos. The Armée de l'Air
Armée de l'Air
had approximately 100 aircraft, of which about 60 could be considered front line. These included thirty Potez 25
Potez 25
TOE reconnaissance/fighters-bombers, four Farman 221 heavy bombers, six Potez 542 bombers, nine Morane-Saulnier M.S.406
Morane-Saulnier M.S.406
fighters, and eight Loire 130
Loire 130
reconnaissance/bombers flying boats.[9] Thai[edit]

Plaek Phibunsongkhram
Plaek Phibunsongkhram
inspecting troops during the war

The slightly larger Thai Army was a relatively well-equipped force.[10] 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
Vickers 6-ton
tanks made up the bulk of the army's tank force. The Royal Thai Navy
Royal Thai Navy
included two Thonburi coastal defence ships, 12 torpedo boats, and four Japanese-made submarines.[11] 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.[11] Among the 140 aircraft that composed the air force's first-line strength were 24 Mitsubishi Ki-30
Mitsubishi Ki-30
light bombers, nine Mitsubishi Ki-21
Mitsubishi Ki-21
medium bombers, 25 Curtiss Hawk 75N pursuit fighter planes, six Martin B-10
Martin B-10
medium bombers, and 70 Vought O2U Corsair observation/attacker aircraft.[5] Campaign[edit] 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
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,[11] 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.[12]

French troops used a handful of World War I-era Renault FT
Renault FT
tanks during the conflict

The French Armée de l'Air
Armée de l'Air
flew Morane-Saulnier M.S.406
Morane-Saulnier M.S.406
fighters (a preserved specimen is shown)

The Vickers light amphibious tank saw service in the Thaï (Siamese) army

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 along 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.[13]

The naval battle of Ko Chang, 17 January 1941

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
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
Ko Chang
island. The subsequent battle of Ko Chang
Ko Chang
was a 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
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.[5][9] Results[edit] Armistice[edit] 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 France
and the Kingdom of Siam were signed aboard the cruiser Natori on 31 January 1941, and 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,[10][11] 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:

and Pailin, which were reorganized as Phra Tabong
Phra Tabong
Province; Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey, which were reorganized as Phibunsongkhram Province; Preah Vihear, which was merged with a part of Champassak Province
Champassak Province
of Laos
opposite Pakse
to form Nakhon Champassak Province; Xaignabouli, including part of Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang
Province, which was renamed Lan Chang Province;

The provinces ceded from Cambodia
by France
to Thailand
were regrouped into new Thai provinces, Phra Tabong, Phibunsongram, and Nakhon Champassak

Treaty[edit] The resolution of the conflict was received with wide acclaim among 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 Indochina, the conflict was a bitter reminder of their isolation following the Fall of France. In the French view, 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. Japanese wanted to maintain both her working relationship with Vichy and the status quo; thus, the Thais were forced to accept only a quarter of the territory they had lost to 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. They were able to expand their influence in both Thailand
and Indochina. The Japanese intention was to use Thailand
and Indochina as their military bases to invade Burma
and Malaya in the future. The Japanese won from Phibun a secret verbal promise to support them in an attack on British Malaya
British Malaya
and British Burma
(though he later would go back on his word).[14] Relations between Japan and Thailand
were subsequently stressed as a disappointed Phibun switched to courting the British and Americans in the hopes of warding off what he saw as an imminent Japanese invasion.[15] However on 8 December 1941, the Japanese invaded Thailand
at the same time they invaded Malaya (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). To commemorate the victory Phibun had the Victory Monument built. Thailand
invited Japan and Germany to join the celebration. 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.[16] Casualties[edit] 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).[10] The Thais had captured 222 men (17 North Africans, 80 Frenchmen, and 125 Indochinese).[5] The Thai army suffered 54 men killed in action and 307 wounded.[6] 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 numbered just 21. About 30 percent of 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.[11] The Armée de l'Air
Armée de l'Air
admitted the loss of one Farman F221 and two Morane M.S.406s destroyed on the ground, but in reality its losses were greater.[9] In its first experience of combat, the Royal Thai Air Force
Royal Thai Air Force
claimed to have shot down five French aircraft and destroyed 17 on the ground, for the loss of three of its own in the air and another five to 10 destroyed in French air raids on Thai airfields. See also[edit]

Japanese occupation of Cambodia Japanese coup d'état in French Indochina HTMS Sri Ayudhya


^ Tucker, World War II: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection p. 649 ^ Fall, p.22. "On the seas, one old French cruiser sank one-third of the whole Thai fleet ...,Japan, seeing that the war was turning against its pupil and ally, imposed its "mediation" between the two parties." ^ Fall, Bernard B. (1994). Street Without Joy: The French Debacle in Indochina. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-1700-3.  ^ Windrow, Martin (2004). The Last Valley. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-306-81386-6.  ^ a b c d Royal Thai Air Force. (1976) The History of the Air Force in the Conflict with French Indochina. Bangkok. ^ a b Sorasanya Phaengspha (2002) The Indochina War: Thailand
Fights France. Sarakadee Press. ^ Stone, Bill. "Vichy Indo-China vs Siam, 1940-41".  ^ Rives, Maurice. Les Linh Tap. ISBN 2-7025-0436-1 page 90 ^ a b c Ehrengardt, Christian J; Shores, Christopher (1985). L'Aviation de Vichy au combat: Tome 1: Les campagnes oubliées, 3 juillet 1940 - 27 novembre 1942. Charles-Lavauzelle.  ^ a b c Hesse d'Alzon, Claude (1985). La Présence militaire française en Indochine. Vincennes: Publications du service historique de l'Armée de Terre.  ^ a b c d e Young, Edward M. (1995) Aerial Nationalism: A History of Aviation in Thailand. Smithsonian Institution Press. ^ Elphick, Peter. (1995) Singapore: the Pregnable Fortress: A Study in Deception, Discord and Desertion. Coronet Books. ^ Vichy versus Asia: The Franco-Siamese War
Franco-Siamese War
of 1941 ^ Charivat Santaputra (1985) Thai Foreign Policy 1932-1946. Thammasat University Press. ^ Judith A. Stowe. (1991) Siam becomes Thailand: A Story of Intrigue. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1393-6 ^ Terwiel, B.J. (2005) Thailand's Political History: From the Fall of Ayutthaya to Recent Times. River Books.

Further reading[edit]

Wong, Ka F. Visions of a Nation: Public Monuments in Twentieth-Century Thailand, White Lotus, Bangkok

External links[edit]

" France
1940...something" "The French-Thai War" at the Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine
(archived October 27, 2009) The 1941 franco-siamese war in the World War II
World War II

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History of Thailand

Office holders Individuals and institutions Key events

The Monarchy

(Rama VII) Ananda Mahidol
Ananda Mahidol
(Rama VIII) Bhumibol Adulyadej
Bhumibol Adulyadej
(Rama IX)

Regents of Thailand

Rama VII

The Prince of Nakhon Sawan The Prince Narisara Nuwattiwong


The Prince Anuvatana Prince Aditya Dibabha Chao Phraya Yomarath (Pan Sukhum) Chao Phraya Bijayendra Yodhin (General Um Indrayodhin) Luang Praditmanutham (Dr. Pridi Banomyong)

Rama IX

Phra Suthamawinichay Phraya Nolarajasuwach (Thongdi Nolarajasuwach) Sa-nguan Chuthatemi The Prince of Chainat Phraya Manovaratsevi (Plod Vichear na Songkhla) The Prince Adireksorn Udomsakdi The Prince Bidyalabh Bridhyakon Luang Adulyadejchrat (Bhat Phuengphrakhun) Queen Sirikit Princess Srisangwan

Prime Ministers of Thailand

Phraya Manopakorn Nititada
Phraya Manopakorn Nititada
(Kon Hutasingha) General Phraya Phahonphonphayuhasena
Phraya Phahonphonphayuhasena
(Phot Phahonyothin) Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram Major Khuang Aphaiwong Thawi Bunyaket Seni Pramoj Pridi Banomyong Rear Admiral Thawan Thamrongnawasawat Pote Sarasin Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat


Field Marshal Phin Choonhavan General Phao Sriyanond Lieutenant-General Kat Katsongkhram Marshal of the Air Force Fuen Ronnaphagrad Ritthakhanee


Direk Jayanama Luang Wichitwathakan


Khana Ratsadon Free Thai Movement Coup Group Communist Party of Thailand Southeast Asia Treaty Organization Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Key events

Rattanakosin Kingdom Siamese revolution of 1932 Constitutions of Thailand Siamese coup d'état of 1933 Boworadet Rebellion Rebellion of the Sergeants Songsuradet Rebellion Franco-Thai War Japanese invasion of Thailand World War II Thai cultural restoration Siamese coup d'état of 1947 Korean War Army General Staff Plot Palace Rebellion Manhattan Rebellion Silent Coup (Thailand) 1957 Thai coup d'état 1958 Thai coup d'état Vietnam War Communist insurgency in Thailand 1971 Thai coup d'état 14 October 1973 Uprising History of Thailand
since 1973

v t e

Occupation of France
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German occupation

Military Administration in France

zone occupée/nord (1940–4) zone sud (1942–4)

Belgium and Northern France

Military Administration (1940–4) Reichskommissariat (1944)


Gau Westmark Reichsgau Oberrhein

zone interdite

Atlantic Wall
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Italian occupation

Mainland France Corsica French Tunisia

Japanese occupation

French Indochina


Thai occupation

and Sisophon
(Cambodia) Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang
and Champasak (Laos)

See also