battle of dien bien phu summary

Even de Castries’ new general’s stars, dropped to him by General Cogny with a bottle of champagne, landed in enemy territory. [44] Claudine to the southwest, Liliane and Françoise to the west, and Huguette and Anne-Marie to the northeast. Starting in December, the French, under the command of Colonel Christian de Castries, began transforming their anchoring point into a fortress by setting up ten satellite positions. [118] On 25 February 2005, the seven still-living American pilots were awarded the French Legion of Honor by Jean-David Levitte, the French Ambassador to the United States. Within a month the government of Laniel resigned, and the new Prime Minister, Pierre Mendès, formed a government with Communist Party support. [88] By about 18:20, only one French position, strong point Lily, manned by Moroccan soldiers commanded by a French officer, Major Jean Nicholas, had not been overrun. [93], News of Dien Bien Phu's fall was announced in France several hours after the surrender, around 4:45pm, by Prime Minister Joseph Laniel. The airstrip, already closed since 16:00 the day before due to a light bombardment, was now put permanently out of commission. However, its decision, which was drawn up on 13 November, was not delivered to him until 4 December, two weeks after the Điện Biên Phủ operation began. [30], In June 1953 Major General René Cogny, the French commander in the Tonkin Delta, proposed Điện Biên Phủ, which had an old airstrip built by the Japanese during World War II, as a "mooring point". The arrival of the 316th Viet Minh Division prompted Cogny to order the evacuation of the Lai Chau garrison to Điện Biên Phủ, exactly as Giáp had anticipated. [60], De Castries ordered a counterattack to relieve Gabrielle. Khe Sanh received 18,000 tons of aerial resupplies during the 77-day battle, whereas during the 167 days that the French forces at Điện Biên Phủ held out, they received only 4,000 tons. Today, the former battlefield is one large historical site. Independence, given too grudgingly to the Vietnamese nationalist regime, remained the catchword of the adversary. [15], By 1953, the First Indochina War was not going well for France. Combat operations were undertaken only in response to enemy moves or threats. Dien Bien Phu was to be the lock on the back door leading into Laos. Fall will be remembered by history as one of the foremost authorities on the Vietnam War. A conflict between Communist Viet Minh forces and a French-established garrison, it occurred in a town called Seat of the Border County Prefecture or, in Vietnamese, Dien Bien Phu. The great battle in the valley of Dien Bien Phu was over. Omissions? A number of quadruple 0.50 calibre machine guns were present and used in the ground role. The last French forces withdrew from Vietnam in 1956. The historian Bernard Fall records, based on Langlais' memoirs, that Colonel Langlais and his fellow paratroop commanders, all fully armed, confronted de Castries in his bunker on 24 March. "Of the 2,100 men who left Lai Chau on 9 December, only 185 made it to Điện Biên Phủ on 22 December. Teams of Viet Minh volunteers were sent into the French camp to scout the disposition of the French artillery. The resulting agreement partitioned Vietnam into two zones: communist North Vietnam and the State of Vietnam, which opposed the agreement,[105] to the south. The battle was joined in late 1953 when French forces, who had been rapidly losing ground to the popularly supported Viet Minh, occupied the town of Dien Bien Phu in an attempt to cut the nationalist supply lines into Laos and to maintain a base for forays against enemy forces. As key positions were overrun, the perimeter contracted, and the air resupply on which the French had placed their hopes became impossible. Historians are divided on whether this was a genuine attempt to repeat their success at Điện Biên Phủ by forcing the surrender of the Marine base, or else a diversion from the Tết Offensive, or an example of the North Vietnamese Army keeping its options open. By ousting a colonial power from within its borders, the communist forces of Ho Chi Minh returned some of the country’s pride, as well as some of its land, to the Vietnamese people. Compounding the difficulties for the French were the monsoon rains pelting the area. [7] Various types of artillery and anti-aircraft guns (mainly of Soviet origin), which outnumbered their French counterparts by about four to one,[7] were moved into strategic positions overlooking the valley and the French forces based there. At 1:50 a.m. on May 8, 1954, came the last message from the doomed garrison, relayed by the watchdog aircraft to Hanoi: Sortie failed — Stop — Can no longer communicate with you — Stop and end. [95] Militarily there was no point in France fighting on, as the Viet Minh could repeat the strategy and tactics of the Dien Bien Phu campaign elsewhere, to which the French had no effective response. The French garrison came under sporadic direct artillery fire from the Viet Minh for the first time on 31 January 1954 and patrols encountered the Viet Minh troops in all directions around them. We’re blowing up everything around here. And to destroy those divisions and prevent their invasions into Laos, one had to, in American military parlance, find ’em and fix ’em. She was referred to as the "Angel of Điện Biên Phủ". As the French presence in Indochina increased, they set up protectorates in Cochin China (southern Vietnam), Annam (central Vietnam), and Tonkin (northern Vietnam). [127], Decisive Viet Minh victory over the French near the end of the First Indochina War. That was the rationale for the creation of a garrison at Dien Bien Phu and for the battle that took place there. [21] They would cut off Viet Minh soldiers fighting in Laos and force them to withdraw. By placing the garrison in a valley with surrounding hills and by the oversight of the French military to underestimate their enemy, the Vietminh were able to be victorious. All right, mon général, I only wanted to preserve the wounded. But Navarre, an armor officer formed on the European battlefields, apparently (this was the judgment of the French government committee that later investigated the disaster) had failed to realize that there are no blocking positions in [a] country lacking European-type roads. The key Red River Delta was more or less held by the French — at least during the daytime, for at night the enemy was everywhere — and the rice-rich Mekong Delta in South Vietnam, where anti-Communist Buddhist sects were fighting on the French side, was held more solidly by Western forces in 1953-54 than in 1963-64. Mayer had given Navarre a single order—to create military conditions that would lead to an "honorable political solution". French command was disrupted at 18:30 when a shell hit the French command post, killing the battalion commander, Major Paul Pégot, and most of his staff. But with the existence of a Red Chinese sanctuary for the Viet Minh forces, that became militarily impossible.

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