Bangkok was bombed many times by the Allies during World War II and World War I. It was also the target of the first combat mission by the B-29 Superfortress (manufactured by Boeing) in June 1944.
Today, I would like to introduce some of the war sites in Bangkok where you can see the scars of the war, with episodes from that time.
The first British and American air raids
The allied bombing of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, began even before Thailand declared war, as the Empire of Japan was using Japan as a staging ground for invasions of both the Federation of Malaya and Burma.
The first raid took place on January 7, 1942, when Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft flying from Yangon attacked military targets in Bangkok. A group of American volunteers were involved in the initial raid, along with seven 113 Squadron and three 45 Squadron Bristol Blenheim bombers. The planes of the 113th squadron were piloted by pilots of the 60th squadron.
The second night raid was carried out by eight Blenheims on January 24-25 and included the crew of No. 60 Squadron RAF. Three days later, the last raid was carried out by four Blenheims. This was the last raid by Blenheim until May or June 1945. British and American bombing was also supported by the Free Thai Movement, an Allied anti-Japanese guerrilla movement. Agents of the Free ThaiMovement designated the locations of Allied aircraft targets and Japanese positions, and also reported on the target’s weather.
After Yangon fell to the Japanese on March 7, heavy bombers, including the India- and China-based RAF and the U.S. 10th Air Force Joint B-24 Liberator, attacked targets in Thailand. The raid was carried out as Bangkok became the Japanese command post on the front lines in Southeast Asia. RAF and USAAF bombers carried out raids as part of the Pacific Campaign. The bombers attacked installations used by the occupying Japanese forces, but the raids were also intended to pressure the government of Prak Pibul Songkhram, a powerful figure in the Thai military, to abandon its unpopular alliance with the Japanese Empire.
The main targets were the newly completed port of Bangkok and the Thai rail system. Raids by the RAF, USAAF, and other allied forces continued to intensify from India after the liberation of Yangon on May 3, 1945, and continued from Yangon until the end of the war in August of that year. Blenheim bombers and Mustangs operated from Yangon against Bangkok during this later phase of bombing.
The first B-29 Superfortress combat mission
On its first combat mission, the American Boeing B-29 Superfortress was used by the 58th Air Division of XX Bomber Command to attack targets in Bangkok before being deployed to the Japanese home islands. The decision to use B-29s to bomb Bangkok dates back to 1943 and was mentioned in a meeting between US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
On June 5, 1944, 98 B-29s, led by General Laverne Sanders, the 58th commander, flew from an airfield in India to attack the Makkasan Railway Yard in Bangkok. The raid, a 2,261 mile round trip, was the longest mission so far in the war.
Only 77 of the B-29s made it to Bangkok, while the other 21 had to turn back due to engine problems. When the bombers arrived in the Thai capital around 11:00 a.m., they found that bad weather had obscured their targets.
The B-29 was intended to drop bombs at 22,000 to 25,000 feet, but instead released bombs at 17,000 to 27,000 feet.
Only 18 of the bombs hit their intended targets. The others destroyed a Japanese military hospital and damaged the Japanese secret police headquarters. On their return to India, 42 of the B-29s had to be diverted to other airfields due to lack of fuel. Five of these crashed on landing. Further raids by the Superfortress against strategic targets in Bangkok have taken place.
Temporary British occupation
At the end of hostilities, British and Indian troops arrived in Bangkok to disarm and repatriate the surrendered Japanese. On September 9, 1945, the RAF set up its headquarters at Don Muang Airfield in Bangkok under Group Captain Don Finlay of the RAF’s 909 Wing.
Three RAF squadrons were represented at Siam during the brief occupation: the 20th Squadron RAF with Spitfire VIII aircraft, the 211th Squadron RAF with de Havilland Mosquito VI aircraft, and the 685th Squadron RAF separation with mosquito photo reconnaissance aircraft.
The airfield was defended by No. 2945 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment. Almost all RAF units were evacuated by January 1946.
Original：Bombing of Bangkok in World War II
Type 95 Light Tank at the National Memorial
Air-raid shelter in the Dusit Zoo
The Dusit Zoo was closed in September 2018.（Map）。
Business hours: 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
[Historic Sites] War Remnants in Bangkok – Visiting the Air-raid Shelter in Dusit Zoo [JPN]（http://historyjapanpwblog.net/bangkok-dusitzoo-airraid-shelter）