The Untold Story of a Japanese POW Camp in North-east Thailand

The untold story of a Japanese Prisoner of War camp created for three thousand men to construct an airstrip at Ubon in north-east Thailand.

It begins when Thailand became a Japanese ally followed by the secret formation of the Seri Thai resistance movement by a prominent Thai politician to oppose Japanese domination. Eventually the British Special Operations Executive arrived in the Ubon area to train the Seri Thai, but the Japanese surrender abruptly changed their plan. 

Extensive research in Ubon has revealed the camp’s daily life, its unorthodox liberation and exceptional generosity from Ubon’s citizens, which is commemorated by a lasting memorial. The story describes disarming the Japanese, identifying war criminals and suppressing remaining resistance which sometimes ended tragically.

It is a story of the faith held by Prisoners of War, Seri Thai and people of Thailand that one day the Japanese will be finished.



Why did neutral Thailand help the Japanese in World War II?

Why did the Japanese want an airstrip in a remote part of north-east Thailand?

What was the Seri Thai Resistance Movement?

What happened in Ubon when the ex-POWs left Ubon?

The Men
Japanese Prisoners of War

The Prisoners, Liberators, Seri Thai resistance movement

The Camp
Site of the Camp and Airstrip

Life in the camp and the construction of the airstrip

Ubon Camp Newsletter

Freedom from tyranny after three and a half years incarceration. Reunion with command and British Special forces


  • 9,000 Japanese soldiers surrender at Ubon
  • Peace keeping duties along the River Mekong
  • Post liberation activities in the camp and Ubon
  • First hand accounts of living in rural Thailand in the 1940’s
  • The compassionate people of Ubon
  • International and national World War Two politics
  • The role of the British Special Operations Executive and Seri Thai
  • It’s an incredible story, very well written and researched. I think it fills a gap in the history of POW camps and role the Thais played supporting the prisoners (K K)
  • This book is brilliant (A K)
  • This is a fascinating book. Not only is it important in terms of content, it is a compelling read and extremely well-written. My congratulations to the author for the depth of his research and his ability to convey information in such a moving and enthralling manner.(Karen)

The Monument of Merit was built by ex-POWs to thank Ubon’s generous and compassionate people for their kindness in the six weeks between their liberation and repatriation to their homelands.

The modern Monument of Merit in Ubon

Five years of research in the United Kingdom and Ubon has brought together individual records of information out of which a coherent story about the camp and the post liberation action has unfolded. Including an explanation of Thailand’s internal politics and the rise of the Seri Thai resistance movement,

About the author

Ray Withnall is a regular visitor to Ubon and has a passion for World War Two history. He began to research the Ubon Prisoner of War story when it was apparent that its history was almost forgotten.

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