Category: thailand

Execution by Submachine Gun in Thailand

One of the most bizarre execution methods in the 20th century was Thailands bizarre method which was utilized from the 1930′s until 2002. While the use of firing squads has been a common practice around the world throughout history, the use of a single submachine is rare. The condemned was blindfolded and restrained on a cross facing away from the executioner. A screen was then placed in between the condemned and the executioner, with a bullseye that was aligned with the center of mass of the condemned. At the executioner’s end was a fully automatic 9mm submachine gun, stabilized in a special vice which held the weapon steady. Before 1984 a Bergmann MP-34 was used, a German weapon dating to the 1930′s. 

After 1984 a Heckler & Koch MP-5 submachine gun was used, mounted with a silencer.

One the signal was given, the executioner would pull the trigger, firing a burst of 15 rounds which mostly likely would instantly kill the condemned.

The last execution by submachine gun in Thailand occurred in 2002, undertaken by prison guard Chavoret Jaruboon, of which the biopic The Last Executioner is based upon. Between 1984 and 2002 he was involved in the execution of 55 people, of which he was paid a bonus of 2,000 baht (60 US dollars) per execution. According to Jaruboon, one strange incident occurred when the submachine gun misfired. Jaruboon worked the action and chambered the next round, only to have it misfire again. The weapon was tested and found to function perfectly, but again it misfired. The condemned was searched and found to be wearing a sacred amulet, which was confiscated. On the next attempt, the weapon functioned without issue.

Execution by submachine gun was banned in 2003, and replaced with lethal injection.

Imagine the American West populated with elephants alongside buffalo

Shortly before the American Civil War the King of Siam (Thailand) sent gifts of goodwill to the United States which included a sword, a pair of ivory tusks, and a photograph of the King with his daughter. 

In an accompanying letter, dated February 14, 1861, King Mongkut said that he had heard that the United States had no elephants. As a remedy, he offered a gift of elephants—several pairs of them—that could be “turned loose in forests and increase till there be large herds.” The elephants would be useful in the unsettled parts of the United States, he continued, “since elephants being animals of great size and strength can bear burdens and travel through uncleared woods and matted jungles where no carriage and cart roads have yet been made.”

President Abraham Lincoln graciously declined the elephants with the following letter

To the King of Siam

February 3, 1862

Abraham Lincoln,
President of the United States of America.

To His Majesty Somdetch Phra Paramendr Maha Mongut,

King of Siam,

Great and Good Friend: I have received Your Majesty’s two letters of the date of February 14th., 1861.

I have also received in good condition the royal gifts which accompanied those letters,—namely, a sword of costly materials and exquisite workmanship; a photographic likeness of Your Majesty and of Your Majesty’s beloved daughter; and also two elephants’ tusks of length and magnitude such as indicate that they could have belonged only to an animal which was a native of Siam.

Your Majesty’s letters show an understanding that our laws forbid the President from receiving these rich presents as personal treasures. They are therefore accepted in accordance with Your Majesty’s desire as tokens of your good will and friendship for the American People. Congress being now in session at this capital, I have had great pleasure in making known to them this manifestation of Your Majesty’s munificence and kind consideration.

Under their directions the gifts will be placed among the archives of the Government, where they will remain perpetually as tokens of mutual esteem and pacific dispositions more honorable to both nations than any trophies of conquest could be.

I appreciate most highly Your Majesty’s tender of good offices in forwarding to this Government a stock from which a supply of elephants might be raised on our own soil. This Government would not hesitate to avail itself of so generous an offer if the object were one which could be made practically useful in the present condition of the United States.

Our political jurisdiction, however, does not reach a latitude so low as to favor the multiplication of the elephant, and steam on land, as well as on water, has been our best and most efficient agent of transportation in internal commerce.

I shall have occasion at no distant day to transmit to Your Majesty some token of indication of the high sense which this Government entertains of Your Majesty’s friendship.

Meantime, wishing for Your Majesty a long and happy life, and for the generous and emulous People of Siam the highest possible prosperity, I commend both to the blessing of Almighty God.

Your Good Friend, ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

Washington, February 3, 1862.

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

The Siamese Expeditionary Force, World War I

One of the lesser known Allied Powers during World War I was the Kingdom of Siam, now called Thailand. Siam declared war on the Central Powers in July of 1917. Shortly afterward, plans were set into motion to organized an expeditionary force to fight on the Western Front. For Siam, taking an active part in the war was a move to show that the ancient Kingdom could act as an independent power in the modern age and could stretch it’s military muscle. Siamese independence was viewed as very valuable as the kingdom was the only country in Southeast Asia that was able to resist foreign colonialism and maintain it’s sovereignty. Furthermore Siam was neighbors with French Indochina, and allying with France could improve future relations. Finally participation in the war would also give Siam a place at the bargaining table when the Central Powers were defeated, and perhaps a share of the political spoils.

The Siamese Expeditionary Force (SEF) was composed of an 870 man motor corps and a 414 man strong air force led by Major-General Phraya Bhijai Janriddhi.

Initially the SEF was not equipped or prepared for World War I, so for several months it underwent training at the direction of officers who were educated in Europe and served as military observers on the Western Front. For the most part the SEF used French weapons and equipment as Siam did not have the ability to supply it’s expeditionary force. Thus the SEF was completely reliant on the French Army while on the Western Front. The SEF arrived in France on the 30th of July, 1918. During the Second Battle of the Marne and the Meuse Offensive the motor corps was used to transport supplies and wounded. However, tensions between French and Siamese officers, as well as a lack of competent translators prevented the SEF from being integrated into the French Army for front line combat operations. The infighting between Siamese and French officers became so heated that at one point the Siamese government considered canceling the mission altogether.

When the Armistice was signed on November 11th, 1917, the SEF was ordered to cross the German border and serve as an occupation force. From December 1918 to July 1919, the SEF headquartered in Neustadt, located in the Rhineland-Palatinate. When the Treaty of Versailles was signed the SEF left Germany to participate in victory parades in Brussels, Paris, and London. The SEF disembarked for Siam in September of 1919. During the war the SEF lost 19 men, half due to the flu pandemic, the rest as a result of accidents.

Silver handled dha from Thailand, 19th century.

from Czerny’s International Auction House

Thai dha, circa 1900.

from Czerny’s International Auctions House

Ankus with saber blade, Thailand, 18th-19th century.

from Czerny’s International Auctions House

Siamese infantry with war elephants during the Haw Wars, 1875.

Note the cannon and gatling gun on the elephants