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The War and Nakhon Nayok by Danny Speight 


The War and Nakhon Nayok by Danny Speight


Although a trip to Nakhon Nayok from Pattaya can be done in a day, taking a couple of days would probably be easier on the driver. This is especially so because of the town's pleasant micro-climate - a result of being at the base of Thailand's northeast escarpment. This climate means there is a good choice of small resort-type accommodation in the area, catering to mainly Thai tourists from Bangkok.

First, some directions to Nakhon Nayok. Take the new Bangkok road, route 7, and get onto the motorway. Just past the service area and the Ban Pakong River crossing, turn off onto the Chachoengsao road, route 314. As you approach Chachoengsao, turn right onto Thep Kunakon Road. You should see the signs for Wat Sothon and, once you pass the large white temple buildings, continue to hug the western bank of the river. Cross under the main road, route 304, and follow road 3200 north for about 20km. Turn right when you get to road 3481 and follow this for about 27km and then take the left turn on route 3076. Nakhon Nayok is another 25km up this road.
 
Let's get the obvious stops out of the way and perhaps, in a future article, we can deal with them a bit more. Nakhon Nayok is famous for its many waterfalls and reservoirs. If you are taking kids then these are a must see. Probably the best known are the Sarika Falls, which are north of town on road 3049 and then 3050. The water is cold, so it's great on a hot day. There is no shortage of fresh fruit for sale and plenty of places to stop and eat. Also worth mentioning are the Ornamental Plant Center and the Dong Lakhon ancient city outside town.

So, what about the war? We can make two visits around Nakhon Nayok and find evidence of Thailand's part in the Second World War. One is about the beginning of the country's involvement, while the other is about the end. Our first visit is to the Army Museum in the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy. The large academy grounds have many attractions including golf, hiking, shooting and parachute jump training. It can be found by turning right off  of route 33 about 10km northwest out of town onto road 3052. The museum's GPS position is 14.2976°N, 101.1641°E.

For those interested in aircraft, you can see Bell Huey helicopter and a Belfast-made Short Skyvan 330 parked on the grass behind the building. The geometric museum building is on a raised mound. A word of warning here, the museum is not open on weekends, only weekdays
08:30-16:30. If the front door is locked, ring the doorbell. For us, this bought a soldier who opened it for us. The four floors have a good range of weapons and uniforms from the Royal Thai Army's history, but our interest was in the basement. There you can find the desk used by Field Marshal Pibulsongkram. He was Thailand's prime minister from 1938 to 1944 and again from 1948 to 1957. He allowed the Japanese to roll through Thailand in 1941 after minimal resistance and, shortly afterwards, seeing how the war was developing, declared war on Britain and America.
 
Under the glass top on the desk are three letters. Two are from US President Dwight Eisenhower, one thanking him for his help during the Korean War and the other thanking him for being nice to Vice-President and Mrs Nixon. The third letter is from the British Ambassador in Bangkok, dated the 8th December 1941, warning of a Japanese invasion. This was the day the Japanese did attack. Below is the text of the letter.

Your Excellency, I hasten to inform you that I have received the following urgent and personal message for you from Mr Winston Churchill. "There is a possibility of an imminent Japanese invasion of your country. If you are attacked, defend yourself. The preservation of the full independence and sovereignty of Thailand is a British interest and we shall regard an attack on you as an attack on ourselves." Believe me, Yours very sincerely

Thai opposition to the Japanese invasion was over in a day, and the Japanese advanced down the Malay Peninsula to capture Singapore, Britain suffering its worst defeat of the Pacific war there. Of course, it could be argued that Churchill was ready to fight to the last Thai soldier and that Phibul had very little choice in his actions.

Having seen the beginning of Thailand's part in the war, let's cross over to the east of town and see the ending. Wat Phrammani is said to be the oldest temple in Nakhon Nayok and is known for its old Buddha statue bought from Vientiane. That's not what we are looking for and you may have to ask someone to point you towards the Japanese shrine.

First some directions. Take road 3049 northeast out of town and after about 5km look for signs to the temple on the right. This is definitely a time when GPS would help. If you have one then the position is 14.2347°N, 101.2423°E. There is plenty of confusion on the internet, and even on the posters at the shrine, as to quite what the shrine is for. I think what we can be sure of is that it was built in honour of the Japanese 37th Army Division. The information on the internet that it commemorates the 7,920 Thai soldiers who died while working for this division looks very unlikely, as does the poster at the shrine that says it's for the seven thousand Japanese troops who died on a march from Malaysia to Nakhon Nayok. What I think we can believe is that it commemorates the almost eight thousand Japanese soldiers that died in wartime service with the 37th Division. This division spent most of the war fighting in China. Towards the end, it was in Southwest China. Its last move was through French Indochina to Nakhon Nayok to counter an expected allied invasion of Thailand. This was where they eventually surrendered. The commander, General Kenryo Sato was later  imprisoned for war crimes, being the very last to be released in 1956. Although a trip to Nakhon Nayok from Pattaya can be done in a day, taking a couple of days  would probably be easier on the driver. This is especially so because of the town's pleasant  micro-climate - a result of being at the base of Thailand's northeast escarpment. This climate  means there is a good choice of small resort-type accommodation in the area, catering to mainly Thai tourists from Bangkok. 
 
First, some directions to Nakhon Nayok. Take the new Bangkok road, route 7, and get onto the  motorway. Just past the service area and the Ban Pakong River crossing, turn off onto the  Chachoengsao road, route 314. As you approach Chachoengsao, turn right onto Thep  Kunakon Road. You should see the signs for Wat Sothon and, once you pass the large white  temple buildings, continue to hug the western bank of the river. Cross under the main road,  route 304, and follow road 3200 north for about 20km. Turn right when you get to road 3481  and follow this for about 27km and then take the left turn on route 3076. Nakhon Nayok is  another 25km up this road. 
 
Let's get the obvious stops out of the way and perhaps, in a future article, we can deal with  them a bit more. Nakhon Nayok is famous for its many waterfalls and reservoirs. If you are  taking kids then these are a must see. Probably the best known are the Sarika Falls, which are  north of town on road 3049 and then 3050. The water is cold, so it's great on a hot day. There  is no shortage of fresh fruit for sale and plenty of places to stop and eat. Also worth mentioning  are the Ornamental Plant Center and the Dong Lakhon ancient city outside town. 
 
So, what about the war? We can make two visits around Nakhon Nayok and find evidence of  Thailand's part in the Second World War. One is about the beginning of the country's  involvement, while the other is about the end. Our first visit is to the Army Museum in the  Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy. The large academy grounds have many attractions  including golf, hiking, shooting and parachute jump training. It can be found by turning right off  of route 33 about 10km northwest out of town onto road 3052. The museum's GPS position is  14.2976°N, 101.1641°E. 
 
For those interested in aircraft, you can see Bell Huey helicopter and a Belfast-made Short  Skyvan 330 parked on the grass behind the building. The geometric museum building is on a  raised mound. A word of warning here, the museum is not open on weekends, only weekdays  08:30-16:30. If the front door is locked, ring the doorbell. For us, this bought a soldier who  opened it for us. The four floors have a good range of weapons and uniforms from the Royal  Thai Army's history, but our interest was in the basement. There you can find the desk used by  Field Marshal Pibulsongkram. He was Thailand's prime minister from 1938 to 1944 and again from 1948 to 1957. He allowed the Japanese to roll through Thailand in 1941 after minimal resistance and, shortly afterwards, seeing how the war was developing, declared war on Britain and America. 
 
Under the glass top on the desk are three letters. Two are from US President Dwight Eisenhower, one thanking him for his help during the Korean War and the other thanking him 
for being nice to Vice-President and Mrs Nixon. The third letter is from the British Ambassador  in Bangkok, dated the 8th December 1941, warning of a Japanese invasion. This was the day the Japanese did attack. Below is the text of the letter. 
 
Your Excellency, 
I hasten to inform you that I have received the following urgent and personal message for you from Mr Winston Churchill. "There is a possibility of an imminent Japanese invasion of your country. If you are attacked, defend yourself. The preservation of the full independence and sovereignty of Thailand is a British interest and we shall regard an attack on you as an attack on ourselves." Believe me, Yours very sincerely 
 
Thai opposition to the Japanese invasion was over in a day, and the Japanese advanced down the Malay Peninsula to capture Singapore, Britain suffering its worst defeat of the Pacific war there. Of course, it could be argued that Churchill was ready to fight to the last Thai soldier and that Phibul had very little choice in his actions. 
 
Having seen the beginning of Thailand's part in the war, let's cross over to the east of town and see the ending. Wat Phrammani is said to be the oldest temple in Nakhon Nayok and is known for its old Buddha statue bought from Vientiane. That's not what we are looking for and you may have to ask someone to point you towards the Japanese shrine. 
 
First some directions. Take road 3049 northeast out of town and after about 5km look for signs to the temple on the right. This is definitely a time when GPS would help. If you have one then the position is 14.2347°N, 101.2423°E. There is plenty of confusion on the internet, and even on the posters at the shrine, as to quite what the shrine is for. I think what we can be sure of is that it was built in honour of the Japanese 37th Army Division. The information on the internet 
that it commemorates the 7,920 Thai soldiers who died while working for this division looks very unlikely, as does the poster at the shrine that says it's for the seven thousand Japanese troops who died on a march from Malaysia to Nakhon Nayok. 
 
What I think we can believe is that it commemorates the almost eight thousand Japanese soldiers that died in wartime service with the 37th Division. This division spent most of the war fighting in China. Towards the end, it was in Southwest China. Its last move was through French Indochina to Nakhon Nayok to counter an expected allied invasion of Thailand. This was where they eventually surrendered. The commander, General Kenryo Sato was later 
imprisoned for war crimes, being the very last to be released in 1956.