Lopburi artillery centre renamed Fort Bhumibol

On Tuesday (24 March), an announcement was posted in the Royal Gazette stating that King Vajiralongkorn has approved a name change for two military bases in Lopburi, which were previously named after revolutionary leaders, renaming them after his parents.

The former site of the Phraya Phahonphonpayuhasena statue at the Fort Phaholyothin Artillery Centre

The announcement states that the Artillery Centre in Lopburi, known as “Fort Phaholyothin”, has been renamed “Fort Bhumibol,” after King Bhumibol, King Vajiralongkorn’s father. 

The Artillery Brigade Camp in Tha Khae Subdistrict, Lopburi, also known as “Fort Phibulsonggram” is also renamed “Fort Sirikit” after Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother.

The announcement did not state a reason for the name change, but the former names of both military camps are those of two leaders of the revolution of 1932, which ended the absolute monarchy in Thailand and marked the beginning of democracy: Phraya Phahonphonphayuhasena (Phot Phahonyothin) and Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram.

Around 26 January 2020, the statue of Phraya Phahonphonphayuhasena, which once stood in front of the officers’ club building at the Artillery Centre in Lopburi, went missing. An officer at the Artillery Centre said that the statue was removed the previous week, but it is unclear where it has been moved to.

A statue of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhran which once stood at the National Defence College of Thailand (NDC) in Bangkok also went missing in the same week.

Monuments dedicated to the 1932 revolution and other legacies of the People’s Party have been the targets in a ‘memory war’ aiming to erase the remembrance of the People’s Party. Historians have suggested that this process has been going on for decades, but it has become more intense since the 2006 coup.

Several legacies of the People’s Party have already been destroyed, including the old Supreme Court complex, the People’s Party Plaque, and the Constitution Defence Monument at Laksi. It is still unclear where the plaque and the Constitution Defence Monument have disappeared to.