France 1918: With the war entering its last, critical chapter, a company of Thai drivers is late to the scene.
Commanded by the prudish Captain Sumet and his hard-pressed deputy, Chai, their missions see them thrown into the chaos of the Meuse-Argonne front, delivering shells to the artillery batteries and Grand Cru vintages to the high-command, medicine to beleaguered platoons, before their trucks are stolen by an American tank Corps.
Last to the Front is about the clash of empires, and social and historical change. But it is also a personal story of the lives of young Siamese soldiers, thousands of miles from home, thrown into the world’s most brutal catastrophe, battling language, prejudice and intolerance, as much as shells, bayonets and machine guns. Chai, wounded in Germany, goes back to Bangkok more sanguine and wise, but he also leaves behind deep friendships and love.
“What the historian must describe factually, Gee Svasti brings to life through the experiences of Chai, Sumet and their comrades, who travelled to war-torn Europe to bring honour and glory to their king. This is history made intimate, written in a gripping and heart-warming style.” Stefan Hell, author of Siam and World War I.