Pai Bridge

The Pai River bridge is often cited as the most visible evidence of the presence of Japan's Army in Northern Thailand during WWII.
But the statement is incorrect. This website attempts to resolve that error, as well as other misconceptions about the period.


Japan in Northwest Thailand during World War II


The primary objective of this website is to trace the Japanese presence in northwest Thailand during World War II. It will "stray" from this objective as necessary to provide proper perspective.

To this point in time, only certain subjects, at the following general locations labeled in white, have been developed:[1]

General Index Map

Locations are available via these links, presented in alphabetical order:

Ban Kat
Burial Site
About 40 minutes by road from Chiang Mai, this is the largest Japanese war memorial in northern Thailand.
Chiang Mai
Don Kaeo Burial Sites
Nearly 400 wounded and sick Japanese who had survived the trek over the mountains from Mae Hong Son to two field hospitals here eventually died from exhaustion and disease. The gravesites remain unmarked.
Chiang Mai
Wat Muen San
First Thai and then IJA troops were assigned at this wat less than a kilometer south of Chiang Mai Gate; the site served as a field hospital in the latter part of the war.
Kaeng Luang
Railroad Bridge
USAAF disabling of this bridge serving the IJA in north Thailand was costly to the Allies as well.
Khun Yuam
While the UK's official history tells that it was built after the war, the airstrip was, in fact, built during the war and probably by Japanese troops and Thai laborers working together.
Airfield Group

Lampang airfield with three satellite airstrips:
Hang Chat, Ko Kha, and Mae Mo.
Lampang: Mae Kua Site of possible crash of an Allied recon aircraft,
40 km south of Lampang.
It was used only by the Royal Thai Air Force. No evidence of it exists on the ground today.
San Khayom Bridge
Damage from WW2 shells is still visible on it today
(unabridged version starts here).
Wat Phra Yuen
Flying Tiger Ace Jack Newkirk was killed in a fiery crash in front of this wat in 1942.
Mae Hong Son
Allied air attacks early in the war incorrectly assumed Japanese aircraft were based here to support Japan's invasion of Burma.
Mae Sariang Airstrip Allied orders for air attacks here early in the war vastly overestimated its importance.
Mae Sariang
Tha Ta Fang
Old Station House
A minor border-crossing point into Thailand on the Salween River for Japanese troops retreating from Burma.
Pai: Airstrip The airstrip did not exist until after WWII.
Pai: WWII Bridge Despite long-accepted tradition that it was built by the Japanese Army during WWII, it was not.
Tanaka Japanese photographer
   in Northern Thailand 1909-1961 NEW 08 Mar 2016
Aerial photography
Map Resources
Williams-Hunt Aerial Photograph Digital Collection
USAAF Aerial Photo Intelligence
Locating Loiwing
Loiwing airstrip in western-most Yunnan, China, used briefly by the Flying Tigers in early 1942, is rediscovered.


This is but a small part of the total number of topics planned to be explored. But right now, listing only the developed subjects here will allow the average viewer quicker access to real content. It will save him having to wallow through a long list of mostly future topics to find the few currently developed ones.

Eventually an expanded index page, probably more pretentious, but also more informative, along the lines of this future home page, will give the viewer a more logical access to the website. The current list of topics planned for coverage is available at Annotated Table of Contents.




1.^ Map is extracted from แผนที่ทางหลวงประเทสไทย Scale: 1:1,600,000 (กรุงเทพมหานคร:กรมทางหลวง, 2009) [Road Map of Thailand, Scale 1:1,600,000 (Bangkok: Department of Public Highways, 2009)] (folded map). Annotations are by author using Microsoft Publisher.


Revision List
Topic additions & associated map changes not included
2010 Jun 11
First published on Internet.
1 2012 Apr 30 Changed masthead photo. Replaced table of contents listing all subjects with listing only of major subject categories with links to separate webpages providing subcategory breakouts. Relocated single page table of contents to "Annotated Table of Contents".
2 2012 Jun 10 Revised contents to be more "general".
3 2012 Jul 07 Reduced contents list to only developed webpages. Simplified map.
4 2012 Jul 29 Enhanced descriptions of developed topics.
5 2014 Jan 06 Changed listing to alphabetical order.
6 2014 Jun 16 Recoded home page
7 2015 Jul 13 Keyed alpha listing to general locations