Borneo Company Shipping in Bangkok, Thailand

railroadbill
1st May 2007, 16:36
For those of you who have had the pleasure of loading & disharging at Klong Toey Harbour at the Port of Bangkok, you may remember the Blue Funnel shipping agency Borneo Company Shipping who dealt with our needs.
They have an relatively unknown history which I would like to tell you about.
During the Japanese occupation of S.E Asia (including Siam) a Thai man named Boon Pong Sirivejjabhandu became a legend to the prisoners working on the Burma-Thailand railway. He was a Captain in the Free Siam Army and the underground 'V' Organisation set up and founded in Bangkok in 1942 by an elderly British businessman Ken Gairdner (who was married to a Siamese woman and had retired in Bangkok).
Its members smuggled money, food and medicines to the sick and starving held in the prison camps from Nong Pladuk to Takanun.
Boon Pong supplied food, cashed camp commanders' cheques, delivered secret medical supplies for camp hospitals, supplied batteries for secret radios and advanced cash for personal valuables, which were redeemed after the war.
Ken Gairdiner when he heard of that prisoners were being transported to Thailand to build the railway, Gairdner contacted Peter Heath, a 27 year old junior in the Borneo Company shipping dept. and invited him to raise funds. Gairdner's organisation became an important conduit for relaying military intelligence from prisoners to Allied Governments and the Red Cross.
According to diaries and recollections written by the officers who worked on the railway, they contain many admiring references to the courage of Boon Pong. His premises in Kanchanaburi were searched at least twice a day by the Kempetai but never found anything.
After the war when rumours reached Britain in 1947 that Boon Pong had fallen on hard times, 3 camp comanders - Toosey, Knights and Lt. Col. Harold Lilly- launched an appeal among former Thailand prisoners of war. The appeal raised 35,000 and enabled Boon Pong to start the Boonpong Bus Company, which flourished.
Boon Pong's bravery was rewarded with the George Cross.

If you would like further reading, then I suggest "Surviving The Sword" Prisoners of the Japanese 1942-45 by Brian MacArthur(Thumb)

R651400
2nd May 2007, 07:34
Thanks for above Railroadbill. I doubt there are many of us who knew the origins and heroism of our Bangkok agent.
Mansfield, Guthrie, Straits and B&S come to mind easily but not Borneo Shipping, bearing in mind, Thailand was very much the cargo domain of Ben Line.
In four years I visited Bangkok only once and that was with Glen Line.
I do remember miniature Thai Navy battleship after battleship on the river requiring a dip of the Red Ensign each time we passed.
Can I also direct members to "The Railway Man," by Eric Lomax another story of heroism, disgraceful treatment of our POW's, torture and finally forgiveness, from the same period.

http://www.theforgivenessproject.com/stories/eric-lomax