First, a potted history. January 17, 1941 saw the Battle of Koh Chang take place in the waters around the south and southeast of Koh Chang. The Vichy France navy sailed down from Vietnam, surprised the Thai navy and, despite strong resistance, sank a few Thai ships, without losing any of their own. Before the French had the chance to steam further along the coast the Japanese banged some heads together and told them to return to Vietnam.
Every year there are ceremonies on the mainland at the memorial near Krom Luang pier, just out of Laem Ngop and also at the smaller memorial at Hat Yuthanavy in the southeast of Koh Chang that commemorate the bravery of the Thai sailors and the 36 who died.
As 2011 was the 70th anniversary of the battle, more people than usual showed up from all over the island. A couple of hundred people showed up, including pupils from Klong Prao school who came by boat from the west coast. Guest of honour this year was the sole living survivor. He was a ship’s cook and was ashore buying supplies when the French attacked. Thailand’s Channel 3 TV were there and you can see him being interviews in the pics.
Locals from the Salakkok and Salakphet area donated money to buy food for the monks and everyone in attendance. For some reason, the people organisng the event thought the best way to achieve this was to buy 40 pigs heads with the funds that were raised.
The land where the memorial is located is currently under dispute as someone has suddenly discovered they have a title deed for the land. See if you can spot the person in the photos below that none of the attendees knew and thought was a spy, sent on behalf of the person claiming the land, to watch proceedings.