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Friday, July 25th 2008, 3:32pm

Siamese Army: the RTA circa 1935

Based completely on this source.

Thai Army Organisation, Uniforms & Equipment 1940-41 [as baseline for WW circa 1935]

The following is an attempt to pool all the available data which I have on the Thai Army of the "Indochina War 1940-41" between Thailand and French Indochina, hereafter described as the French-Thai War (FTW). More info on the AFVs can be found on Thai AFV Page, and the French are being researched by Nowfel Leulliot.
Uniforms & Personal Equipment

The Thais used the Adrian helmet, with a Thai royal crest on front. This gave a distinctly French appearance to their troops, but the uniforms are not exact copies of French styles. In fact, it more closely resembles the Japanese M90 uniform of 1930, which seems itself a development of the French WW1 uniform. (Thai troops in the Korean War still wore the Adrian helmet, but with a more "British BD" style of uniform). The French tank uniform does seem to have been worn, with overalls & specialist helmet. The uniform appears to be in a light khaki shade, and the Korean War helmets were brown in colour, which may also have been true in 1940-41. From photographs, the inter-war undress uniform has a distinctly Japanese/WW1 British appearance with unstiffened peaked caps.

1929 Uniform description :

Campaign dress is of khaki green material, jackets have upright collars. Troops are issued with a pair of shoes, wearing them is mandatory with parade dress and optional with campaign dress. Puttees are also issued to troops in same colour as uniform (plus one pair black for guard troops). Headdress is a Russian-style cap (the Siamese Army had strong links with Russia prior to this period).

* Distinctive colours are shown on the shoulder boards and cap band : Infantry - Red
* Artillery - Yellow
* Engineers - Black
* Signals - Purple
* Cavalry - Light Blue
* Aviation - Sky Blue
* Police - Carmine
* Medical - Green
* Supply - Salmon Pink

Insignia : worn on shoulder boards and collar :

- officers wear a silver inverted grenade insignia on the collar

- rank & file wear the regiment's number on the shoulder boards and company number on the collar

- services : all officers and men wear a metal rose on their collar (this also applies to transport and ancillary services in the combat units, e.g. battalion quartermaster)

- staff officers wear the Thai letters ST "Senatikam" (Staff) on their collar and a special insignia on their chest if they are graduates of the Bangkok Military Academy (Chulachomklao).

Some pictures taken from Chulachomklao Military Academy site:

* The 1929 uniform as seen in:Cavalry:
* Artillery/Infantry Gunners:


The 1st regt/bn of every type (Infantry, Cavalry, Engineers, Artillery) seem to have been designated the "King's Own" or "King's Own Guard". In the case of the Infantry Guards at least, they were a largely ceremonial unit and fell out of favour in the 1932 upheavals. Hence, by the time of the FTW they were reduced to a "cadre" unit to guard the Royal Family, and are extremely unlikely to have been used in the fighting. The cavalry guards may, however, have been an armoured unit by then...

As the Siamese Army before it had been organised on French lines, and the new Thailand appears to have copied Japanese practices to a large degree, I would propose a structure for infantry similar to Japanese or French inter-war practices (and the Japanese formations were largely developments of French WW1 systems). In fact, French descriptions of Thai 1940 infantry organisation does sound very like the Japanese "Square" Infantry Division system. The AFVs are likely to have been organised either in independent formations like the French BCCs and Japanese Tank Regiment, or in Cavalry Regiments. Thus, in Command Decision terms, I propose the following:

* Thai Infantry Regiment, 1940-41
o Regimental HQ, @1 command stand
o 1 staff telephone stand
o 1 ammo wagon
o Regimental Weapons Company, @1 gun crew stand
o 1 75mm or 50mm infantry/mountain gun
o 1 limber
o 1 81mm Mortar stand(ds)
o 1 wagon
o 3 Infantry Battalions, each @BHQ @ 1 command stand
o MG Company @ 1 MMG stand
o 3 Rifle Companies, each @ 3 rifle stands

* Thai Tank Battalion, 1940-41BHQ @ 1 command tank
* 3 Companies, each @ 2 tanks

Tanks mainly either Vickers 6-ton, Vickers Light or Vickers Carden-Loyd types (almost certainly in separate units).

* Thai Tank Regiment, 1940-41RHQ@
o 1 command Vickers 6-ton tank
o 1 2pdr AA tank
* 1 Medium Battalion (Vickers 6-ton)
* 1 Light Battalion (Vickers Light or VCL)

* Thai Artillery Regiment, 1940-41RHQ @
o 1 command stand
o 1 ammo wagon
o 1 staff telephone wagon
* 2-3 Light Battalions, each @
o 1 command stand
o 1 spotter stand
o 2 75L36 guns (or 77mm?)
o 3 gun crews
o 3 limbers
o 1 ammo wagon

* Thai Cavalry Regiment, 1940-41RHQ @
o 1 mounted command stand
o 1 recon cavalry stand
o 1 MG cart (Browning MG)
* 3 Cavalry Squadrons, each @ 2 cavalry stands

There were 3 cavalry regiments, all apparently of battalion size, stationed in the Chantaburi/Pailin, Aryana Prathet/Poipet, and Ubon Ratchathani/Pakse areas. I do not know their designation, as 1st Cavalry Regiment seems to have been mechanized?

Thailand was divided into 18 provinces ("Montons") which were each responsible for raising troops. Therefore there may have been "provincial" regiments (in fact, Songgram raised about 50,000 troops for the FTW - which gives a figure of around 2,500 men per province, i.e. about a regiment). The 1917 conscription system (which appears to have still been in use in 1940-41) required every male Thai of age 21-22 years, and fit for service, to serve 2 years in the armed forces, with reserve service (in three age classes) after this (for 11 years?). King Rama VI had attempted to instill a "national service" ethic into the Thais, and Songgram also issued edicts aimed at encouraging nationalism. In addition to the army, a paramilitary gendarmerie was present in the 17 provinces outside Bangkok. These numbered approximately 7,000 well-disciplined men, but may well not have seen service in the FTW. Similarly, there were 2 battalions of Marines under naval control.

* The following weapons are known, or at least suspected, of being used by the Thais in the FTW: Rifles:
o 8mm, 5-shot Mausers bought from the Japanese army in 1926 when the latter changed to the 6.5mm Arisaka model 03 (1915) : 80,000-120,000 of. (From 1935, these were being slowly replaced by the "Rama VI" rifle, a more modern and shortened Mauser built to Thai specifications and the same length as the French rifles used by Indochinese troops)
o ?mm Lee-Enfields (simply described as British Army regulation rifles, possibly .303) bought by the "Wild Tiger Corps" (patriotic society founded by Rama VI) in 1923 and transfered to the War Office in 1926 to be issued to 2nd line units : 80,000 of.
o 8mm Arisaka model 03 (1915) rechambered and bought from the Japanese army in 1928-29 : 35,000 of.
* Machine-guns:
o 8mm Madsen LMG, bought in 1924 and 1927 : 625 of.
o 8mm "Colt" MG (M1917 water-cooled Browning), bought in ? : 225 of, 192 for the Infantry (24 per regiment) and 32 for the cavalry (16 per regiment).
o 8mm Vickers : Air Force and Vickers Carden Loyd tankettes only
o ?mm Lewis : Air Force only
* Mortars: 81mm Brandt
* Anti-Tank Guns:
o 37mm (Pak35/36 or Japanese Type97)?
o 25mm Hotchkiss Mle34?
* Artillery:
o 77mm (German FK-16? Possibly WW1 war-booty sold by the victors as surplus? May be confusion with 75mm, below. Also 40x 75mm Krupp field guns bought pre-WW1).
o 50mm mountain gun, Austrian, pre-war pattern : 150 of, thought to be used as infantry guns for second-line infantry battalions. Range 3.5km, 2kg shell.
o 75mm mountain gun, Krupp design, some 40 bought from Germany in 1912, overwhelming majority (200) bought from Japan in 1923 : 240 of. (The Thai ponies proved too small to carry these as pack-loads, so locally-produced light limbers/carriages & caissons allowed draught by 6-ponies in harness. During 1930 maneuvers, 1 battalion of 75mm MGs from 1st {Guards} Artillery Regt was motorised with Morris 6-wheel trucks in an experiment). *New information from declassified French military archives: these were Japanese 75mm Field Guns, being lightened versions of the famous Krupp 77mm with a shortened barrel. Maximum range was 6000m, but seldom used beyond 4000m*
o Bofors 75mm Field Gun, 4 delivered June 1936, and a further 90 ordered on 22 August 1936 (78 for the Army & 12 for the Navy)
o Bofors 105mm howitzers, 8 delivered June 1936
o Trials were conducted on 25/3/25 with a Japanese infantry gun supplied by the Japanese Military Attache...
* AA guns:
o 20mm Oerlikon?
o 2-pdr pompom (dismounted from Vickers AA SPG)
o Bofors 75mm AA guns - 2 batteries delivered June 1936
* Tanks:
o Vickers Carden-Loyd tankette, delivered 9 May 1930 and issued to the 1st Cavalry regiment according to the 20 May 1930 issue of the Khrungthep (Bangkok) Daily mail : 10 of. (30 by September 1936).
o 30 Vickers 6-tonners (10 ordered 17 November 1932). Also 26 Vickers AA SPG with 2pdr/40mm AA gun.
o 2 VCL Amphibious Tanks ordered between November 1933 and April 1934, apparently for use by the new, Army-dominated regime against the Navy if these rebelled in their turn!
* Armoured Cars:
o 10 Citroen halftracks bought in 1925 (half by Ministry of Communications, half by War Office). Could be used as armoured cars.
o 6 Vickers Armoured Cars delivered in 1931

Much of the above from French military records, via Nowfel Leulliot (with thanks!)


This will be entered in to the WW Encyclopedia under Siam.


This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "howard" (Jul 25th 2008, 3:34pm)


Friday, July 25th 2008, 8:03pm

Equipment-wise, that site's been mentioned before, in this thread:

Given that in WW, the Danes are the longest-term allies of the Thais, in a previous discussion Swampy and I had reached conclusions on what the small arms of the Thais were in 1933: Danish Krag-Jorgensons in 8 x 58mmR, and 8 x 58mmR M1904 Madsen MGs. Pistols weren't discussed, so could either be Danish or something else entirely. In WW, the historical Japanese influence is less likely.




Friday, July 25th 2008, 8:11pm


Originally posted by Hrolf Hakonson
Equipment-wise, that site's been mentioned before, in this thread:

Given that in WW, the Danes are the longest-term allies of the Thais, in a previous discussion Swampy and I had reached conclusions on what the small arms of the Thais were in 1933: Danish Krag-Jorgensons in 8 x 58mmR, and 8 x 58mmR M1904 Madsen MGs. Pistols weren't discussed, so could either be Danish or something else entirely. In WW, the historical Japanese influence is less likely.

I can easily change the base battle rifle and the machine gun to reflect that backstory, but as of now, I'm likely to change out the machine gun in the near future, and bring a new submachine gun into service as the internal story line I plan, has Phibun the trouble maker raising a ruckus for a few months.