On this day: the mysterious death of a king.

Ananda_Mahidol_portrait_photograph Portrait photograph of King Ananda Mahidol of Thailand 1930s

Ananda Mahidol, Thailand’s king Rama VIII, died on the 3rd of June, 1946. He was only twenty at the time.

A child when he was elected successor to the throne in 1935, he continued to be educated in Switzerland, not visiting Thailand as king until 1938 when he was thirteen.

Rama_8_in_stamp stamp used in Rama VIII's reign 17th April 1941 issue Thailand. Thia.

Stamp issued 17th April 1941

The Japanese invaded Thailand the same day in 1941 they bombed America’s Pearl Harbor. The young king was not in the country at the time and did not return home until the end of 1945.

Only six months later a single gunshot was heard, and Ananda Mahidol was found dead.

Ananda_Mahidol_and_Louis_Mountbatten_in_19_January_1946 King Ananda Mahidol and Louis Mountbatten on 19 January 1946. Thai History British

King Ananda Mahidol and Louis Mountbatten. 19th January 1946.

More than one theory has been put forward as to how this happened.

He was the older brother of Bhumibol Adulyadej, who inherited the title and achieved cult status in Thailand; during his long reign both locals and foreigners were imprisoned for insulting him in any way. Even “liking” a Facebook post was enough for some people to be arrested.

The circumstances around Rama VIII’s death are still debated.

The Japanese conquest of Burma.

The Japanese invasion and conquest of Burma concluded in May, 1942. The campaign marked the beginning of Japan’s years-long campaign in the South-East Asian region in the Second World War.

In the image below, Japanese troops can be seen lined up at the Burmese border in January, shortly before the invasion began.

IJA_15th_Army_on_border_of_Burma Troops of Japanese Fifteenth Army on the border of Burma The Invasion and Conquest of Burma January 1942

On this day: the Doolittle Raid

The Doolittle Raid, a series of US bomb attacks on Japan, took place on the 18th of April, 1942. Also called the Tokyo Raid, it was seen as retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack a few months before.

Army_B-25_(Doolittle_Raid)The Doolittle Raid, also known as the Tokyo Raid, on Saturday, April 18, 1942,

Christmas as a prisoner of war.

The Chungkai Camp was operated by the Japanese during World War Two, and prisoners – including soldiers from Britain and the Commonwealth – were made to work on the Burma–Thailand Railway.

This “Christmas card” is in the collection of London’s Imperial War Museum, and was created in either 1943 or 1944. It depicts Father Christmas in a loincloth, carrying a sack of presents through a bamboo fence.

It was very dangerous to make images while a prisoner in the camp. One prisoner, Jack Chalker, reported his sketches of camp life being discovered by a Korean guard. Chalker was beaten for days as punishment.

the-chungkai-camp-was-operated-by-the-japanese-during-world-war-two-this-christmas-card-is-in-the-collection-of-londons-imperial-war-museum-and-was-created-in-either-1943-or-1944