The Veterans of Siam

Thailand, the oldest treaty partner of the U.S. in Asia, has a long history of fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S. The partnership on the battlefield goes back to the First World War. In the Great War of 1914-18, soldiers from what was then the Kingdom of Siam became the first fighting force from an East Asian country to serve in a Western theater of battle.

Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day, a holiday to mark the end of the First World War. The Siamese Expeditionary Forces were dispatched to France in 1917, the same year America entered the conflict. Their 1,284 men were divided into an aviation regiment, army transport regiments, and a medical regiment. Placed under French command, they often were assigned to support roles because of the language barriers.

Nonetheless, the Siamese Expeditionary forces participated in the Second Battle of the Marne, the Hundred Days Offensive, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. In that last campaign, they braved enemy fire to deliver a constant supply of munitions to U.S. troops. Siamese soldiers remained in Europe after the fighting ended and were sent home following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

For your viewing pleasure and interest on Veterans Day, we present a photographic slideshow of the members of the Siamese Expeditionary Force that served in World War I.