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Phibun Songkram (พิบูล สงคราม)

Field Marshall and Prime Minister during WW II. During the interregnum of Rama VII and Rama VIII the Kingdom of Siam was governed by a governing council and frequently lived in the grip of military despots, including Phibun Songkram. The latter found inspiration with leaders like Mussolini and Hitler, and while he ruled the people with an iron fist he changed the name in 1939 from Siam into Prathet Thai (ประเทศไทย), i.e. Thailand, which translates as Land of the Free. In 1944 he was forced to step down after he sided with Japan during WW II. For a while it seemed a democratic civilian regime would be installed but due to the confusion following the mysterious death of Rama VIII, the military once again seized power in a coup d'état. In 1948, Phibun made a political comeback, but his popularity had faded and in 1957 he was ousted in yet another coup d'état. To date, Phibun Songkram is the longest serving Prime Minister in Thai history. Beautifully located on a hill overlooking the city of Chiang Rai is the Phibun Songkram Military Museum, also known as the Phibun Songkram House, the Field Marshall Plaek Phibun Songkram (แปลก พิบูลสงคราม) Museum, the Army Museum and the Military Museum, and in Thai as Phiphithaphan Thahaan Monthon Thahaan Thih 37 (พิพิธภัณฑ์ทหาร มณฑลทหารบกที่ 37), i.e. Military Museum of the 37th Army District. The half-timbered house, with its structural timbers exposed for decoration, gives the building a colonial look. It was constructed in the years 1940-41 for the Field Marshall who was then Prime Minister of Thailand in his first term. The museum exhibits items related to the life of the Field Marshall and to the  May 1942 invasion of the Siamese Shan States of Burma, i.e. present-day Shan State in Myanmar, during World War II. The Thai Phayap Army, referred to in Thai as Kong Thap Phayap (กองทัพพายัพ) and meaning the Northwestern Army, occupied these territories, known as Saharat Thai Deum (สหรัฐไทยเดิม), i.e. the Unified Former Thai Territories, as an administrative division of Thailand, until the end of World War II. The museum has a bust and several photos of the man and in the garden is a life-sized figure of him in his military uniform. WATCH VIDEO and MORE ON THIS.