The French Indochina

War 1946-54
First '" G<N1 Bruin'" 1998 Dy08Qrey
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lS8N 1 1!632 7Ill9
1098765432
F(llO. CO,.....OQUIE 011' .....cllOOKS I'I&JIl>IEDIlY
o-v MIJI.o.RY4lill " .......TlCltl f'lU.SII' CQHT-aCT
The 0Ilny ew- UI(.
PO Boo. ...... ogIlOlougn.
NNlI1f'A, IJMId KJngdclIoI.
EINIiI ""'O_)ldnct.CC1-"<
The Osl:ny ew- USA,

729 PrCIIl*l " ........ oa.::.oaa. WI 500:20. USA
E/IIaIl'
Acknowledgements
The 8IJ1hor 10 teCOrd has for me help 8nd 8dvoce of
Howard A. $oIT1p$on. Somon cu.stan, Oaude Mom, JdJn Robert
't'cu1g, Wayne Braby & Geotl Comrsh dI.n'lg the of.
book: and 10 lhe lale Charles MiIass«1.
Author's note
'ViBl Mnl' (VM) IS u&lId Ihroughc:lut t$.t 10 mtal
both the' poibeaol an;j the' PeDpIe'. Jv!rft of Vietnam
!Q.a't Dol NtI¥t
CooIlstenl and conect - e_g the'...,. of c:aptals. lIalics.
- IS practeaIy IfTllXlSSible lit a't EngIisn teJll quotlng
many FI'WlCh 8nd V1elnamese tem>s. We IwMI ga'WlIIy t..-I EnglisI'I
capd8lIsollQn for French an;j \'\etnamese names and tnt biles
Ie g 5e Regment tle Cl.IrassIers. 0aI Dol 52); rtala QI'l/y to emptlaslse
SOf'TIe ttlC:hnlcal or *Illlerms lit both la'1guages (e,g. '*' dolIt1,
erar::/wt): and !'\ave ornmed all hyphens from VIetnamese. lIII1Ce itS
othef lypOgrapt'llcai CQIlvetl!lQnS owe impracllCal herw,
For the key 10 the abbrevlal,ons IIllhis see page 41
Artist's note
Readere may care to note lhal the onghaI from whK:h the
coloUr plale. lit ltlos book were prepared _ 811ililable lor pl'MIte sale.
All reprodo.letlOl'1 copyngh1 whatsoever ilIlelaIIled by the publistw. AI
should be addo !!sed 10:
Milt. Chappel, 21 Nelson SlIeet Deal. Kenl. CTt4 &OR
The regrellhal they ca'l enter l1li0 no upon
tIllS man....
FRENCH INDOCHINA IN
1946-54
he of Indochina - nonh \'iClll:l111 (Uac no. or Tonkill). celllr:I)
\'iClll.ll11 (Tnlllg Bo. or .-\nn:llll). :>olllh \';C\l1;Ull (.\':1111 llo. or'
C..uehinchina). Camboclia anc! Laos - had hCl'1! French or
prnlt'C!IIl,lll"l lhl' c·cnlll ..... In tlw 19:Mk \All1ulluuiS:l-kd li.. illf.,'S in
TonL.in and '-\nl1:1111 had 1x."'C1I hloodih supprr-...'t.·d. 1ll0l1l\ ill .. urgCllI le,uk'r'
into China; in 19-10 thet Ilnl1h-(':L,t Tonl..iu. :mcl began
to build lip their :llllll'd :.trl'lIgll1 from ..Imo" llolhing. Til<."\ III.UIt-.1 1.111.'
and in..ignilic:llll shO\\ of J'C.. i"':lllCC to Ih(' JapalH.'-.c. \\hich
("'(t:lhli.. tllt'il" willi ,II(' .-\mcriClll OSS •• rld c;lnK'tI,ht:"1II ..orne
CS anl1'> amlll,tilling.
emit-I" lht, Yidn the French had 10 [OIo.:I'l1l' the
[II 194.-, illll'rllCd all
Frc'l1ch troop... aud onicials, hlllcll(,ring th(N' who lhl'
fOIIg-lll lllt'i,. 'lUI il IIII Nat i, 111:I[isl CI lilla, ;r lId lllL' Jap:ll1I"t' II II'1H'd l)I'f'r
civil g-O\'("l'lI111l'llt 10 IOC:11 dellll'nts. il1cludinl{ lhl' figul'ehl'ad l:lIlpt'I'or of
:\UII:l11l, I\ao I);ti. TlwJ.Lf)'Ull"l: ,mTcndcr ill 19-1,") wa... 1,ll..l'U b,
X:l1ionali'l Chin('<;(' lroops in lIw nonh :llId a Indian di, i,ion ill
the "OlUh: neilher 1\;1.'> ahk to ilHc,ferl' ,..illl a l.omllHlllist prog,:unnw of
OH'r 'grass root;;' 1>Ol\er - and Jap:ml'''l' \\(':11)011", It I\ould be
Oclolx'r 19-1:' lX'fort'" Frcndl rclllfll{'(llll 5.tigun. and 19-16
before lilt' fi,....t readwd I "mol. This IXl\\l'r allUl\l,."d till"
COIuilllcrn \CICI:lII 110 Chi 10 :, 'ttong rl·,oluliona....
orgal1i,.llioll:1I finol inlonl..in, and laler throughoul \'il'IlI:III1,
The, prc'clllcd 1III'II1'<'I\l''' a, d('II1OlI:11' 'ccking:t peaceful ('nd 10
coltlliial nill': ,Lll<\ ill Iblll)i in September 19-1,", 110 ckdarcrllhc hil'lh 01 Ihe
DCIlIO(T:llic Repuhlk 01 Viclllalll. TIll' initialh 1'01 mL'r1 a
CClllllllOII froll! (Vict ;\lam Doc I':lp DonI{ lIliuh lIoi, 'I.ragLL(, lor
\'icln:llIJ(.'S(' Indcpcmk'1\t.'(") with otlll'r u:llioualisl }{I'OUp". Thi"
The Frcllch IWl'suadccl of llLl' 11011-
Commlllli'l clemen!.:> - (',g, the C'tl) Dai ......( t armlnet Thai :\illh - 10
COlii(' 10 Icnn): anel the I-CPI Iht' litle \iel tln:\
nl\hlc"h climin;ltt"d ,til ch.lllengt.'J), fm 1cadel"hip. III IXIf:llld 10 lht'ir
cllergt'lic political progr.llIllIIl' the lIndel' mililan Ir-;Illcl"hip of
\'0 :\'gll\CIl Gi:lp. rapidh buill lip largl' (if ,l..elchih lI-;lillt'd) forc('"
t'qlliPlx'(l \\ilhJap:ul('-.(' and French "'capon,,
Though Ihe FrCllCh rC;l"Llllll'cll)()\\I... r in Iht, .... llllh afll'l' hrid lightillg,
thl'ir ft·lll .... 10 Tonkin \\-;l" (ld.II{,d 1)\ :I Chil,l"....• I..ilhclr:ll\';.ll lllllil 110'"
go, crnmCIlI 11;1:> a Jail ((("romIH', ,\t .\II\CliC;lIl pr1l11lplilll{ IIIl' FI"t'1l( h \\"('rt'
rdLlct:ullh 101'("('(1 10 IlCgotialc bill. still 'liuA"ing from tht,' hlLlllili,lliol1s (If
World \\'ar [I. lI"en' ill ltO 11100d for ('ulupn)llli,l'. Incidcnl' ht'I\I\'('11
Fn'ndl :mtl \1-[ Imops 11'1'1"(' i1I('\"itablc, finallv inln hl':1\"\ fighling 3
4
Southern Annam, 11148: 2e REI
1'sIlonnalres pose for ill ...apsh<>t
ovtside their post - an old p.agoda
reinlon:ed with logs. Uniforms and
equipment are mosUy Brltl'h
lIUrplus: note No,4 rfftH, Brens
and a Sten. FCftlgn clothi",
wtdeIy seen In the early )'e-'"
Included Wor1d war II British and
Commonwealth (e.g. Indian. New
Zealand, etc.) khaki drill and
jungle green; and US olive drab,
klwlkl, and herringbone twillltem$.
(Courtesy Charles MilallSlnl
in 11,1I1Oi 011 19 The Frl'lll.-h
upll:d 1111' a Illililan .......IUliOll. \,'ilh I,i'lfb,ighl il i.. C;I!i\ hi n;tici..l' Ilwir raill,re
III ,lppU'(iah' Ihal lhe.'\ r,lCl'd ,I 11('\\ Inrlll of 1"('\"Ultllionan nOI
1II1.'I'('h ,I I+.ing: b\ culollial makolllt'm.. ,lIul uppurl11ni .. til h;IIUlil:>: hili
IK·fOlt· T.....· TunA"'" "lllllllillg- \i( to.... ill China in 1fI·1!1 no \\'hu'rn ,11111\
thi .. phClIOllU'll(III.
B\ \pril 19.... 7 tilt' FU'l1( h IMeI rqpilll.'("l ,lpp:lrcnl lonlrol OH'I' Ihe lIl.lin
100\11i ami :111(\ p;II1" nl 111e.· nm"I,11 .llleI lldl,t rit d,lIllb. rill' \
cUlIlpll'wh ullIHtllnu'e1, II.ld ll(·\l-nllek..." "mcc('{lcd ill l!ll.-if
1lI.lill lorn- (I Ill' Chile I.lIl) flt·l.,\> illln til(' nlTerl'd I" lh('jung-kd
tlr nOli 11·... a..1Tim"ill, 'Frt·t· 1.011(' of Ih(' \'kl ItlC' (I he provilln" (II !lae
KIll, Can B:IIlg:, I.ang" SOil. lla Cblli-\". TIl\l'll QU;lIIg alld Tlui
soldier Ieadi"lll patrol
olloo;al 'c:ornlftllndos'(notll blac:k
berets) i" thic:k jur>gle:.bout
60% 01 Vietnam 1$ c:overed by
sleep hUI, lI"d lorest, !lOme
almost Impe"etrable, Ma"y
Irregular c:omma"do, "md
lu"iliary c:ornpa"ies ICSMII
were railed, Ir>eludir>g vel8nns
ot the ol<I rorailleul'$ Indoc:hinoois,
monlagnan:ls. merc:er>aries Ind
hall-tamed bandll' of v;lriou,
ethnic groups, aoo quite Iarve
"umOOI'$ ot 'tumad' Viet Ml"h,
Some were allowed tree rei" to
c:o.mter IOC:llt VM ac:tivlly, with
few ql.lil.tlon. aslted: others
were attac:hed to 111M! unit. a.
KOUts. (SPt)
\\U\llri bc' tlld, IlI'arlbml. prO!ffll'1lll\ it.:. rUAAc'd It'n,lin ,Ind diN,' III lilt'
Lhine:'l' ftolll1l'c IWH' lhl'\ :'l'l lip the:ir (,\IUp', {kpo!" 1""pil,ll, ,11111
I,ll lurk" 1)1lI;1lg: lIlt.' 1lI111l.... iOlI of :opling "1111I'"<:1 1917 b.lth .. ieii-..
10
THE BATTLEFIELD
lonl..in h,1I1 ril II, c!r-Il .... h IX'lllIbll'd rk('-gn)\\illg" 1()\\I,llld, ,I
II i,tllg!l' ,Irolllld du: cldt;I 01 Ill(' Ck,ll", "ke! ,IIHI 1\1:1('1.. Ri\('r,. I hi,
FIl'llch hC.lrll.\Ild of .Iholll i..-,II(J .. f1u....e: mill'" hdd IITl' l,.pil,II 1I,IlIoi,
Ihl' 1ll,lil' pori uf 11.liphong:. and "OIlIl' dglll ",iUioll IK.:npk (;Ihotll h.• II
lite lulal pOplll.ltiull nl \'killalll), Olll .. i{k 'Ihl: Ikha' 1.1\ Ihe "ild hill ..
01 till: Vii-I B,ll' 10 111(: north, ,JllIl to I1ll' \'t"1 Illl' TIl;.i J lig:hbnd, -
h011l h{'a\ih lon';'It'c!. h.'l'lIh "'plon'd. ,lIltl pelll'lnlll'c1 h\ OIlh a fl'\\
had I-oach,.
Cochilll:hitl.l hacl Ilw ol1h oll\('r hC;l\ih ,11111 popuJ,lIl'd
'lllllpl;..illg IIIC \'l'll.lmb around IlIl' \kl..(lllg: Iklt.•, \IIIMIll i.. llw
Il.In"O\\ \\,,, .. 1 lOllll"-"t-lill/-t lhe 1\\0: Irom TOlll..in 10 "olllhl'llI .\II11anl Ihe
IIl';I\il\ I\l')odt'c! moutH•• in.. of thl' \1I11,unilt' Ch.lin funll Ih., .. pin,,-' 01 the
lUIIIIII"'I, JIll:"l.-' lit' rlll ... lh .11{1l1g' lilt, I honkr, bill U\I' III fllnll
I Ill' 'big-h p1.U"-"lll)"" ot tht· llig-hlalld.. ill :.ollIITl·fl! .\nll.11l1 .llld
llorthern (:'xhillChill,l. ,\lIlht· hi}.thl.llld I ('gion.. \\('1"{' 'l)<Ir"l'l\ ..c,1I11·tl·c1
\\ilh IIIOlltflj!II",.d trih;11 \'iJI.Ig-e: .. : 1II('''l' 10hll,1 'lIlCltllll,lilll'I'I,' Il.ic!j:!uoel
r(';"ol1 lor thl'lr hi .. ln!i(,ll hO'lilil\ 10 .111 Im"and \ !l·IlI.lllll'...·. ,llIel
lll,lI1\ fOlll-(llI .llulI/-t'.. icll·
Ihe Fremh, III IIT,,-' hll1-.
rn,.c! .. 11,l\'igahk h, IIiUhlr
\dllell" \H'f(' kw. lllL·lh.l-
ni.. t'd I!lOIl'IIIt'1I1 ;l\\,1\ fl'olll
lIwllI imp(l....ihk. and o\("r-
IK,.1l1 COWl ill lite
raim '1',hUII 111.111\ din rt,,"I..
..,.hk ftll'
IIIUlllh,;u a lillll'. Till' Itll\-
LUld ,1IIe1
I'Cl't!-<:on.'I'('c1 plain.. ,.n' ("I
inlu a lll.LIe Il\
\ 'it'lll:lm i,. ill ,11011.
11,,-',1\('11.
r1l(" dim.II(· i .. (·,h,Ill"I-
inl-(h hoi ,lIul humic! luI'
mll(h of till' \l:;II'. IhOIll-(h
lilt.' ronl..uT(·"", "inll'r i,
l1li .. lold, rill' ,oulh·
\\l· .. 1 1\1I11l"001l 1.lil" 1.1-.t
IIIHI\ IIIOt{o\)er: {he
north....·..... 1 1111111'0011, 110111
to D,,-'t ..·lnht:I.
I' I\picalh \t:n lug:h"
IllUl"nilll{ !o!-:
Gill ,.]..0 .,I!lllud lilt' hill_ ,1\ 5
Sketch map of Tonkin, $hOwing
only miljor .nd t_ns
mentioned In the leIt. To IndlCJIte
physi.CJIl detail, would ""'h this
map needlessly 0Ublde
the Oeta .nd • coastal strip
virtuiJlly the whole a........s hill
-..
(1111('1 "t·;hOn1». This rmr!li" (Fn.:l1ch ,tillg-. "pillk') hatlllwrl'f! ,Iir
Opel<lliOl1.'>: as lhe Frclldl rdicd upon air for qnucgic
mohilil\, and upon l:l("lical ail' for i,nla,,'d Ul1il.,>, 111(' \'\1
learned to cxploit Ihe \,'calhcl:
Outside m:tior lown<;; tilt' French h;1£1 111'\'('1' ·occupicd· \it'lnal11 ill am
1I1l':mingflll 'CllSC. \lclaphol'ic:llh their \\cr..: 'lI1all i,l:Ind,> - ;Ind
in the high COUllln. remOle in .111 lllu.h....lni OCC:I1l. [\('11 ill Ihc
aOl,dcd and rcl:l1i\eh \,'ell gU:II'dcd rlcha, Ihe Ilcilceful faml":l could
i1<Jll,>fofln hil11,>df i1110 ,Ill ,Kli\e glll'lTilla \\helw\('r Iw \\,1' n()l aew,tlh
1I11(1t'"1' tlw l.... and gt.llh of Frellcll troops: ami lor lI10'0t 01 lhl' war alxnu
I'Wc of Iht" COllllln hardh C\CI' ';'1\\ a Fn'ndunall. III Olll' \il:11 'l'II","' lhe:
hatllefield extcnded Ix'\olld \'killam's borde...... grc;\tC'i1 aSSCL'i
\\('rl' S:IIlCtUaries in,idc China', K"<Jng,i prmince jU,>1 O\t'r Ihe
TOIIl..ill frolllicr. and lhe ;\lId i'htrllclOr, provided Ihere 1)\
\1,10\ reg-illl\' afll'" 19·19. Thc co-opcr:llion ('ujo\cd b\ Iht' \';\1 frolll
Comllluni,>1 groups in ,let'I)\ 1 .mel G.lIulxxli:1 milit;lIih
lll'gligiblc; blll Giap·' abilil\ 10 m,UlCl('ll\f(' in,iclt' LIO' br.t\C' him ;1
'llOItl1,.. ';c ill the FrCllch to dhidt' 'lill funhel· thcir O\·cr·
'"'l,tc!wd rl"'l·nl.....
••-
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1._.........

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Thill Ioi:ht \
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Ph" Tong H""
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Ph" --.;;:,
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-? Nin Binh
-;::--- .... Phal D,em l' NKIN-t
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.i Than Ho:. ---
I" A, 'NA\r-J
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_._._._.- - Nalional Frontlt'''''' ""_.-.,
............... Ddta Derent'<'S ('De l.,1\trc Line') ._.-\ Vinh
THE STRATEGIC BALANCE
7
l,,1u,,njlNp;\\,==
In
Skeldl map 01 "nnam and
C<X:hinctlina, IIhowing aNy major
roads and 1_mentioned In th<I
teIl.
,
..,
D I A
'..,
'. -
• 0-
' ..
;

.
Vinh--
,
LAOS
' ....
Ca :.tau-=='
"
<....
,
I"'" ""',
\ .. J
.........
A M B
I
c

I S I A M
r THi\IL/\NI» t
1
.
.
,
' ..
It·lltft·...
Tens 01 thou';;lIUJ., or 1111.:11 - lIIam or
111('11I ligtllh ,lI1tleci and poorh 1Il0til-;tlt:d
lllili,ia. in h:tlulrt1h. :tlld made
douhh' h\ lite pl"('''('I1C(, or their
familit...... - \\('1'(' ticd d01\l1 ill of
tim wa.lchtoWt'l''' and hlocl-hou..t.· tnltlg
a.long the ro;t<k U"ICk. and fiH'I Th(·..(·
Gin:n the ,Irl'a 11K'" llominalh occupied. 'hl' difficllhic' of IctTaill ami
dilll'IlC:.•mel tlwir shun.IKt" of Illalll)()\\t:r and c:qUipllll"llt. French
(Ollllll:mc!crll of 19-16-19 h.ul fCII ,trall"we OptiOlh. $oml" of IltclIl pcr,i... ll'd
in reg:trding tht' n'bdlioll 11It:,",.:h as a particul,lrh viruklll ami wick-spread
outbreak 01 Inl<lilional1oGll11;\ndilry. hon! OfpOsl-h,lr c!mos alld cspluilt:d
hy COlllllHHlisl tirdml1lck 01l11'rs wen.' ilion: l;lI'"Sigblt'd. hILI were Ilnahle
10 exploit Joe"l Slln:css for lad.. of '·C-'OII1·("l·.... TIlt' r'lpid 11lr11-o\ LT of FH.'nch
1(}lIl1llillldcf\ did 110t hell>: \\ithin eight \'(·;11.... there w('rc Sl.-'\'cn militan
C·iu-C.... and politiGll gO\cnlor!l. 1I0t working in hannOI1\. \,hilt-
lhl: {'Ill:Ill\ ("yoH_'d cOlltinuit\ undcl" 110 and Giap.
TIlC' French lIIilitan ilbtinu 1\,1'" al\\OI\" tn -.eel- a dcei... i\c bau..lc I\herl'
lheir I\ould ('OUIlt: Gi:lp·.... 10 anlid une. DIlI;ng
19-16-...19111(: "iet :'Ilinll ("OIlt.t:Il11,tleri on .. lll"\h.11. Follo\\ing Ihe c1a",ic
dOCIl;nc, tllc\ l\"tlrl-t.'fllo b;ISCS. cOll1luand ... tnIClllre...
amI reliahle- logistics, to imprm'l: tlu'ir
puliliGd ;llId 1H'11\'orks, ancilO
build Ill' ttwir Regllhll'unil", ;I\'oided
,til confront,ltions with Stlp('rior
I\hik purl>u;ng a n:leutle..... n,ltiolllli<h'
guen;lIa CUIII);I;!:."1 b\ R<.1,..;on.llllni ...... This
ClU.'>ft! a cOIl.. t;mt haelllonhag(' of FrclU h
c"-,,ualtie... 1ll,II11 of tlwlll to mines and
hoob\-tr:lp..,: honcd Ihc ..I-ill.. of
for ('\ell1ual prulllotiol! ttl Regular statu... :
,lIId provoked h;t1'llh Ff('ncll Irealtlll'Ill of
tll(' popllbtion during" tht' frustra1ing:
of "ccuril\' 51'·C('p.. \\bich
1lIC\'il:lbh 1)('(":lIlIe tbe patlt'nl of1he ",II'
UH'r milch 01 '·ielll'lIIl. I h(' Il1alll
'·:'II..domill;tlt..'f1 \\t'f(' (from nonh 10
.'>Ollthllhc 1I0nhcrn highl:ulcI... of TonI-in:
the ..,oUlh<clllr;11 Dl:II.I: Iht· Th,t11 Iloa
.Irca: Ihe UppCI' 'w;list' of .\Illlarn, apart
Irolll l..·udall.''' .trotllld TOtllOllU.' ,lIId 111ll::
'hl' Plain 01 ,,'est ofSaigon: '1'1111 D.lll
i\11ll prm ;rl('e hetween Saigon ami thc
C:unhodi;tlI honkr: Bada province 011 lhl'
CO.ht: ami !II(' Tr:IIl ..-Bassac -
Ihl' "Oluh-I\'t."1 tip on11.:Inalll, TllrotlghOll1
'·iclII'l.In. hOI\c\t.'I'. rdati\ch lo\\-Ic\'d \':'11
aCli\'il\ cOllld p"e\clH Ihe Frcndl from
adlk'\;ng- local "Ccurit\ the m:yor
8
The most characteristic terrain
feature of North Vietnam, both in
the hUls and the lowlands, are
these 'calt;alres' -limestone crags
or buttes thr\lstlng abr\lptly
upwards, Usually covered with
heavy SCr\lb and trees. and often
riddled with caves, they Offered
the VM excellent observation and
ambush positions, (USIA)
rnilit:llil\' futilt', \"hilt; pHwiding- the
\',\1 wi III I,trgl'l:!. of 0pp0rllll1il\' for
c.lpnlling:l or a r:tdiu,
Oillsicle lhe Delta e\'en l<trger
tltcnle facing- thl.' fromiel:
\\'l're l11orl' nf a !i;lhilil\' thall :111
;hSel. T\'pictlh hdd h, a compall\ or twO
or IWl'cd, EllI'Upt.:;l11 or
,'\orth Arric:m ",ilh one or t\\'O
l110rtars or old
usu:tllr able 10 defend IhcllIseh'cs against
all hut tlie IIIO,t delcrmincd
hilt their 1'01111'01 of Ih(' sllrn)ltnding
HlIll1lrrsidl' was illusory. The l'n('lll\
could inrihratc through lht' wildl'l'llt.:s'i
ht.:lweell tht..:lll Wiliioul and it
lOok a lll;uor effol'[ simpl\' 10 kccp opcn
lhe: roads upon \\hich dqw\l(kd for
supplies,
(;i:tp hllilt lip his lIIaill
ft)r("(' in Ihe Vil'l Bac: ill his S('('tmdarr
hast.: art'a sOlllh of Iht.: Della (Than Hoa,
All and Iia Tinlt pro\,illn..'s): :uld,
from 19·19, illside.' China, Til11l'
011 his he denkd Ihe Frellch an\'
0PP0rlllllil\' to 111(:('1 his main force fact'
LO face - alld it was rqwatedh' dl'lIl0l1-
slratl'd lhal lher l:tel-cd lht, 10
hU1l1 it dOl\'1l ;Inc! it in
:tries, This period n'prcsclIlcd hOlh lIlt'
'j.{lll'rrilla' and 'prolmned' ph;l'>('s of rc\'ohti iOlla!'\, liult't:lhlc,
:"bo ill Ouoher 19,19 of the People's Republic
fif China cOlllplt'\(.'h Ir:trl!>formed the I\'ar, III i'\m'pmlwr 110 C:hi :\Iinh
allnollllC(;d 01 Lhl' population ofV:\I<oJ1lrolkd areas,
and his j,{U\'er1l111l.'lll was hI Red
Chin;\. 11ll' L'SSR :lIId (he.' mlln (:omllnlnist stal('S,
;\IIWillg' 10 tilt' 'lIInhik phasl'. Chip fin:lll} 1I1l!t-;lsh('d main
rorn.' ill OCtober 1!)50, winning':t stunnillg' viclor) Oil ROlltt.: CIJlonialc-1.
Tlli, W<lilll'd 11il1l lhe l\'IlOle of ToIll-ill of tht: lkd Ri"e.'r, cnollg:h hllOIY
It) equip a di\isioll, ltuj..\'{' prcstig'l' and 11ll' priceless :I(h,ttllage ()!'
Itllhindl'I'I'r! mOW'lllt.:nl across tll{' Chinest' hOl'der 111{'n'aftt'l:
The loss of llonh-t.'asl 'Iultkin briefly paralysed Ihe French {:oIl111l:llld,
hUI 1110mll' improved hy Ihe arrhO\1 of l.t:ll, Jt',1l1 de I de 'l'hssigllr
as l:"in-C alld political g:o\'crtlor, Dc I sough1 to creale.: a 'secure bast'
of fire' h\' lnrtifving: lhe.: Ikh:t, otll 111:UC II' OPCI,Hi(Ins \,'ilhill
ils dcfcrH'e.s, ;md building lip Ihe Vi"lllalllicrlllc - initially
(0 take (>\'cr wilhin tltt: Ddta and blt:r, icle.:ally, I,) provide ;111
If<lrri!>ons (nl'illu:r achicw::d), I\los\ Fl'cndl llnits W(:I'(' thus to
bc frelxl fix:! strOllg ;lirbunll' allcl,IHltorislxl rest't"c 10 carry tIll' bailic to
Lhl.'
O\'crctlnti(kl11 ;Iftef \'iClory, (;i:lp laullched the of
lhrt.:l' 11l;UOr ()II Lile Ddt:l ddl:II('CS ill 19:11, ,,'illl tIll' slilf,f.lll
'110 Chi in Ilanoi for T... t' - thl' Chill"'''''' :-':L'\\ 'l',11' ill rnid-F... ht"IIM'.
lit: hluudih eldi.';llt'eI ill \'inh \h1. \I,IU KIlL' ,mel !II(' n,\\ Ri\L": 1.1I}:l'h
h\ Ik 1':1\11'("'" ('1l('I"J.;"l'lic rkplonnClll of hi" 11l'\' GrnllJ>" amll,lnk";.11
,lil'l)('I\\L'I: I ht, ,·n'llL-. Ilf I!I;-II ....·1·1ll1"(110 pHIl11i",' thl' 11.1\"11 of 111l'
"011 til{' Fn'll("h could \\;11.
110\\l'\"L'1. lilt' "hakclI (;bp ab:ltI(IOII,'(1 hi" 1'1l'1IIi1IUt"l' nnl·l1..iH'·
for a \\,11' 01 cOllccak'(IIIlO\l'TI1l'nt ,mel "lc;tllin l'ollC('lltratioll 01
"1:1(:("11'11 t.lrgl'!:>. \\'ht'll in I!G1 Ik Lltll'c thr('\\ a
forlt.· WI"\ OIl! oftlw I)",lta along RC.li and Ihe Rin... to I'l'ulnll)\ 111),'1
Billh. Ill' \\.1" .. imph ofTl'ring Gi,lp.1 thaml' to Tt"IX:;lI ()( 10hl:I' 19:,/): an
,blt'd pu"itioll .It tilt' end ur 10111{. \ lllnl'l':.lhk lint·" of (OlllnlllllkOl\ifln.
Initial Frl'lld, "lit n"" "'1011 lun\('c! illlu ,\ halll(' of ,tlIriliul1. ''',idl Ilro\l'II
Ih,lI uIll."idt· tht: Iklta prolollg"ell c1l'pt:lIdL'nl UpOIl load ,llld
fi\l'\' t"'llllllll,il ;Ilioll" to\ll<l 1101 he "1I"1.lillecl. De LIlll'l'. 11\ ill).!; 01 1,IIIn'I',
",I" 1'c.'J>lan·c! ill h\ (,t'll. R,IOlll SaLlll, \\'ho I,'ilhell'l'\\ fnml 110.1
l\ill1l ill Fl'!Jrll;tn 19.-11, \\'hil", IlI,llI' unit-. had been l'OlllllliUt,d Ih"1'I'
1'11('111\ ,II th ill 1''''1''' here had ncaJaIL'd ,II,lnning-h.
Itl O( tobel" Ciap 111oll'd III llt
l
· '1IIuhi!t'· \\,Il tale ph,N'
Wilh 11l1'1I"1" inlo Ihe Thai llig-hl:llld" ,Ind 1..10". III lhe
hallflbouk lhi" ph;I'\.· lilll" 101 1I1,llItJ\.'11HI' ill di\i"ioll.11 "lrl'IIg"lh,
,Iin'nill/{ g"1)lenllllelil 101"te" O\L'" IIIII).!; di"I,III("P". dCIWll lllt'il a,,,el.:>
and tlwil' 1,'''L'I"'\I''', \\ltil", I·l'heal .. illg: lh,' 11'IO!lllioll,ln
formalion" lor IIII' final ol1',"",i\l'. In "pring: (;iap ,1J.t-lill di\'ieleelllw
O\CI'SIn.'I{ht·d French 10IT('" 11\ 'C>lIllllillillJ.: ,·\t·n larger :b"'-'''' Iu lhi.. lIe\\
frulli. Ft"('m It .llll.·mpb 10 di\t'n him Il\ bllllrhing: IXlinfulh ."'-""llIbled and
lIett''''';II;1\ b.ll'r grollnd .md ;Iirbol'llt" task lorc(" ag;.lill"l hi" 1),1"(' ;1\-eOl"
.l{·hit'\t'l"l ollh I\.'mp0l':.'" rill' ..tn·ng:th and ecmlirkuu' 01 tl1l' Chuc
1.111 g:rl'\\ "\l';l<lih. \\hilt- the dht'l,io/1 uf Fn'uch Iwil:. to Llo, ,111m, eel
aCli\il\ III imrt';I"e lhrollghollt
\1(.'111,1111 - including Ihe Ddt,l
it"df. Till' 1ll,11) rclcmle.... h
lllllling rl.'(l.
Om' \.·lltOora!-,tlng l'pi5Ol"le \',b Ill("
l'sl,lhli"hlll('11I h\ airlift of a ;olrollg
j.!i1ni"OIl ... :-':,1 Sail ill llle Tll,li
Ilighl.llld:.: fought olT major
allalk" ill i'\ml'll1h('] 19:,2. ,I lid ",1"
l'e"lIpplied. reinforced. allel ('\"'11111-
alh 1)\ air, Tu "Ollll' Ihi"
"11,'1'1'"" to ollel" a 10 lure
C.i,lp hell\l'\'1\ till' .Ill"il of .1 "\l'ong'''
fonilkd 'aid1l'ael' fill' fl"()m hi" :.('Cllrl'
Il.I,l.·... ,11111 lite h.lllllllel· of F,ctllh
,ll1ilkn. arlllour ,1I1e1 air 1>O\,cl:
I hi" lllllll'pl. ,llld Iltt" "i,,11 III
rOllllt,'I' till" cOlllinuing Ihreal 10
1...10... led II'placl'lllt'lIl ("'11.
IlelU; '\,1\,111"1' tn g:ani-on Ih(' c1i"tarll
\";111("\ or Di('11 Bien Phil ill "int,·1'
19.):\-.-.-1 "illl \\hal aIllOllllll'c1 It) .1
1\I',Ikh "UPI.Jtlllt·t! inl;ultl"'\
l"lUlh <lq>t.'IlCklll 1m a :!f)()..mi!(· .Iil
Leglonnal.... of IIl/S. REI riding
M24 Chaffee tanks 011er RCC,
GB 2, during Op.'1I.tllpe', 1951;
note also the MSAl Stuart at left,
The terrain I. typical 01 the 'high
country' - a dirt road only just
wide enough lor two vehicles.
!tanked by scrub, and overtoolled
by wooded •• No matter
wkat their armoured firepo-. the
French molorlsed eol\.lmns were
often fon::ed to fight VM ...bushes
and roadblocQ on, ....ntlall'y, a
one-vehic:1e front, and tomelimes
had great dilfoeulty bringing their
towed artillefy Into action. (ECPAl

10
·.
Tonkin 1950: Algerian Tlntil!eu.
lei>ding a pad< rnuIe _ ill roughty
repaired bridge - 01"
wnhecl.wt bridges oye.
Indoo::hina's thousands 01
wat_ay1l consbontly l\ampered
military mO\lements. Both sIdes
used pack mules and highland
ponies to carry support weapons,
ammunition lind food during
croSS'CQI,lntry marel\e... (ECPA,j
-.-2-
<' •
.. -
.... III Ilw nt'll••.•irfil:!cl... Tht, 1O.000·m;m g:ln;!ot)1l I',n c1o(ltlll'd 1)\ lilt"
choice orJ>.tItldidl1: h, Fn'lIl h ill airlirt G.p"tcil\ and 10000ri"lic.. : and
1)\ tllC' .. 11l1;;ll'!W("l('cI .. \...ill in 111(.> ("OIlCt,•• lt'c! U<iC of ,hcil' I1dcl ami
allli-;,irl'I,.rt artillt.'l"\. FUlIctl1llt.:tJlalh. 110\\('\('1". the falalmi"l.ll(' \\,1' the
Fr,'IIth hi!,h cOl1l1llalul\ 'ItLbhorn 1l1l(k'rc"illlatiOll nl (:';lp\ :lbilil\ 11111
jll" 10 a""llIblc alld rrl,lllOt'lll rc a jO.OOO-Ill:ln fidd :tnll\': bill to kt:l'p it
'illpplinl throughout \"cc:k.. of lil-{hling-, oVt.:r 500 luiln of
I'lldillll'lllan roack dr.: .. pitr.: Frl'uch COllllll:llld of till' II I,'as
a'l1l1,i,t,illg Ie dTOrl \,llidl lipped IhL" balance.
fht, ligll1ill}.t ill till' lllUll.... lt)u I:,ill' of 195·1 look
on lilt" t'har'acu'I' of ,I WOllc! War J bailie Of:ltll;tioll: but from lilt" cla\ lhal
WillS dosed Diell I\ien Ph,,', air'Mil) 011 '1.7 \larch lilt" OlilCtlIlIC I'';b
illl."ilahk. The ...hod of L1u.' fall 011 i :tl,l\. \,ith lht, IlNo of 1ll;1ll\ of
Ihl' fine';;l unib. 1:lpidh follu\\l'tll)\ Ill,yor \ let 'UCCl'SSt.'S
ill tht, Ddl,l ;lIId thl' Ilighl;uub, In Pari" the
c'rulllelltlUo\'" 1)(}\ft'l' \filll :llll.lnd.llc 10 nl-gl"i:lll·.1 quick cl'a.-.t:firl'.11 almosl
am t I"''' The \ lei It-acit'r'. of lheir huge casllilltie...11 Diell
Hiell Pll1l (pedl:lps R,OOO (1e:,,1 ;llld 12.000 \\tIl'IICit'd). ane! ;Ipprellellsin' of
c1il'en L'S inlc'Po't'lllioll, \\1'1'(' l\'il1ing- 10 . \ cea'>l'Iin', and pari i-
lion on'kllWIll :1I I he 171 h \,'crt' agn,,'d ill G,'IW\;I Oil 21.1111} 19jq.
light kit for IoQI
operations worn by a French
-.oldi.r cauti-.ty Han;hlnsJ a
village _ the welden disappearance
of the village", was a wamlnsJ 01
Imminent attack on the Ioc:al post.
Th. handy US .3Ocal M1 earblne
was popular throughoutth.
CEFEO despite its lack 0' stopp!nv
power. Comfortable canvas and
rubber boob - pataug,ar or
'..pluhen' - were very widely
U'Md. In both issue and
commen::illl patterns. (SPI)
FRENCH UNION FORCES
Resources
Fn'lll h Far E:I:-I E.'lx·diliolla.... eoqb (CEFED) h,leI a uLlhnlll
II.H)OO in 19..7. From 19':;1 10 IY.:H il \',lS ("011)1:1111 ,b 1.111<1
ITI.OOO 0-1.0UO Fn:nch. 18.000 :'\nnh
.\fric;lm. 10.000 FOI"l'ign I.l'!-:"ioll. .)3,000 IImll'r French
cC>lllllJalldJ: 11ot\..!. 5.000: air force, 10.000: Incal :luxili:llie.. ahoul flj.OHO.
B\ 19:131111' \'iew.1111e.;c :'\:lliollal Anm (.\;":\') Ilailllt,'eI :ttl
addiliollal 1I1t·Il. g"i\"illg' F,,"\l(' a llll'urelk:tl 10lal .;lrellj:{lh of
...nlll1.' ,j·jr,.ooo: hilt thi.; fon e was almosl ctllirl'h ... lati( and <1dCmi\"c.
Onh a qual'lcr haelt:IClic:,ll11uhilil\. ;llld a It.·lIlh l1111hitil\. 111
Ihc :W:li1.lhll' rn:IIlOl:II\'J't.· lor'l..CS .1I110Ulltl·d to hrig:uk'-Siled G1Ulllx'"
:\Iohilt.·... t:ig-hl :lirhonl(' h,lllalil'll". and rin'rille IllIi,....
Of till' damuing f:lcecl h\ till' ern:o. the." WOI.... t \\,h
an 0\('1',111 lad, of Ilw polilical \\ill anclmililal'\ n·... Ilt.·('"(·"an 10
prO"l'llllt· lile ........flilh.
F"mcc in 19-j:,"> lIalion. SilHl' 19·10 ... hl' h:lcll)('l'll
defcaled. di\·idl'{"l. c)Ccllpi('{"1. pill.lgefl. OI('r ,llld lirlalh I"
fllrdgn anllil': much uf hl'r (....0110111\ :llld \\l'n' ill 1.llll·r.....
Fn'IIChtlwlI ,.('J"C di\ickcl h\ hillt.·" and lihermion h,l<I I)('eli
fuIlO\'I'c1 h. a blood, "-Clliing III .lCTOllllb. Competing" hIt. hlcling a
"Irml/.{ parh, 1,'c'l"e o.er tlll' .. hap(' of
polillcal ilhtilillioll": 1101 lht:.- FOllnh Rq)llhlil hom of IlIdr
., dlilrl. Ct.·11t'l.11 de 1t.-:,d('1' or 111(' Frt:e
FI'ellch \,ithdrc" ill di"glb' from puhlil lill' in I and dwillg 1111'
01 thl' Inclochiua \\',11' \,ulllci h.IH· no fc,,'I'I' lh.tll 19
gO\ernnK'tll::>. 110m.' "illl:. deal'mandate 10 lighl il
During part of IIw \\.11 11ll' \\eft: partner... in loali,ioll
gO\crlllllenl. Their 10 il wa" in p,lrli:ulll'I1l,ln
olt<lnlt tion of lhl' III fig-Ill it. and e\"l,'11 - Ihrough til(' 1I'1c1e-. unions
- I" CIll"UlU.. thc \,idl"'pl'cac1 saootagl' of I'qlliplllclll d"lillt:'fl fOJ" Ih1.'
F,II' llullllt' llIlPOpul:llil\ ·din\· colonial " .... the
FmIlCl':.... ,I \,hole \1.b.'>O ,1001lI mOl.llil. ,l1Icl
utilit\ lhat ,II \.lJ"iOlb fUI' .• fur l1ll'c1ab :m,lrclccl for
g:llbnll"\ ill lmlochill:l wert.' orclt:rt:d omitted frum Iht' ollidal j.f-lIl·lIe: ,lIld
it \I,IS I'dl ..;ln 10 arlllOlllH"t· lhal hlOl.){1 don:niotl" fr0111 lhe
puhlic \\ould tlOI be u"l'd 101' tr:tnsfll .. ioll of llldodlilla ... rh,'
t.'Ocn 011 milhan call lw imagincd.
TIl(' .. hortag-(' of m:tnlwl,el' at-.o "t.'Iioll'. Tht.' reduced al"l11\
l'Ullllllille<.1 pli11l:lIih 10 the Frellch lOIlt.· oj oITllpit·c1 Gt:rmam. f:lcinJ.:"
the Thl' CEFEO I. ,b a lIlixlUre of Frl'll( h ,111<i forcih'll tmol» rrOIll
widcll c1iOcll'lIl h.tckh'l·ollluk \I(:'"I"t:.- e Frec Fr('lIch.
colonial \.110 hadjoint.'d the AHi(· 01111 in formt.'1
Kc... tightl'I"', ..... mll· men J"t"CnJilecl for lilt' 19+"-4.;
-ome fonller ancl oillt.'r St"nirlg' ill the Foreign IPgion.•lIul
mall\ \\('Ie 1l.11he u"Onps from 'iolllt.' pro\"('f!lo lx' mag-
niril ('III I omh.'ll «>lclicl'''. \I'ilh a high hpnl ", £01115 :1I1d cnergetic- leadc·I.... :
othcn. \H'le irnpn..
10 the I\ar I',IS rt:flcClccl in a 1('1(.11 pl'Ollihitioll on "l'llding
Frc'mh ttl the F,lf E.I ... t. "iiiI'll the tn,lnpOW('1"
prohll'l11. ,Illrl Ihis prt:sslIl't.' It:d in till'll to Ille inadeqllatc lmilling or 11
12
Tonkln 1053: paratt'OCl9S board.
C"7 bel_ dawn for 'II early
momin; Jump, The paru StIfl...-cl
most from tI\e lack 01 an" means
of elrtrKtlon. The Ju5b .nd
C"",,7. could drop th.m an)'WhtH'e
In -.ny t.rritoty: bIIt withdrawal
IT\elOl\t 1on9, e.haustlng marches
through diflleult ten-aln, often
under repeated attack. Onl'y a
tTan$pOr1 helicopter fleet could
h...... saved th.m lrom theM
costly and d.mor.l1sln; retreat.-
but fOf" lhatth••urvlYOn would
have to wait for th.lr n.lrt war,
fECPAI
l'l'j>lan'rT1e:.'tlt dl'lft... (1111\
tlOlllitlalh :Ill-French IInilS in
Indochill<l made lip of
(<lr('('1" H,lutileCrS, and from
ahmlt l.:,t'tt th(',c \I"t'IT
fOIT('d 10 t"(.'t."llIit 10(';llh to ktxp
up tlwi,. ,"·cltg"th. Till' large:.'
IlItllllx'r of ,\friclII and ,\;;ian
unit'> rt.'quil iog French C'I<lrc'
Pllt :I ("on,I:\I1t ;;trnin on thc
alrt';lIh inadc(!u:ltC of
abkjunior and :\'CO<-
among \l'hOlll, h' thc \cn
l1:1tl1n' of th.. fig-JlLing-, c".. ual-
tic' \\tTC Ctln,bl('lllh high,
:\';lIhe rt.·CJlIirt'd a
particularh lIIaturl.:, paternal.
i,tit t"lx' uf leackr;;hip.
tillK'" the:.... got it - the r('cords
art.' full uf r('ll1ad,ahle [('ats
pt.'rfonllcd 1)\ Frenchmen i-.olated OI1('-Compam I)()<.LS. or
It.'ading ·CUIII11';III<lo-.' (If mtJIIlttpuml,llI,iliaril": htll tht' pCltenti'll of othcr
unit'> \\";b. \.-:tsted 1)\ neglcct ,llId cntde particularh ill junior :\'CO
k\cl. nOI'-[Ul"Ope:1II troop" "erc poorh !I-;linl'c1: Frt'l\ch defeats
"lplx"(ltheir 1110rale' - as, illC\;l<lhh. did tilt' r....ct lhat the ellt.'11\\ fcllo\1
lIon-EuropCiUl' def\'ing tilt.' Frellch. Tu the"l' gCllt.'mli","ion, there wefC
lIIall\ impre:......;;i\c ('xception.. , hut tlJ(' mel-;lll probkm!i \,'crc I"eal.
To tht.' m:l1Ipol\el" ,hon.lgl' wa;; .Idded :1 chronic bd.. of c"cn kind of
equipl1lcnt. In the earh \ears the CEFE.Q I>l"e'elll('d a mUlle, "1X'clack,
dothed, (."(!uipp(."(\ and :lIlnecl \I;th (...·cn l..ind of L'S, I\rili,h, Fn:tKh, ("'('11
C:lplllrcdJap:IlI('l>C Infanln 'lippUI1. \I'(',IPOIl' \'Cl"e ill
;;hol"t slIpph: :lml 'mall ,lrInS ill 1II,tt1' differl.:11l calibres (e'H'
7,02111111, 7.tjjllllll. Amlll, ,3tl and .-1:-1 L'S, ,lIIr1 .:\0:\ made
logi;;tic;; a nightmare. ,\ \il1gl... It'lIin!{ :lI1...nlou' Ihi,:
.\ fonnt.·t' in Ihe I"t Foreig"1l Parachutc Ballalion - a c1<\ck
illh'rH'tHion IInil I\hich tlliglll t';\.pt'(I a hig:h priority - n'r:,lkcl thilt in
his tell-man l"(·liccl ml lhcit' 7,?iIl\tll light
machine g"ttll: had unh OtiC 7.ti:1IIltll machint.·
pi'IOI, fOllr ollle.:rs h:witlg" hfflkl'll dlll'ti in ren'lll - as 11;lfl ;111 filtll"of
lhe folding·httll 7.tJt11111 \..'i.31:i/CR.:I!1 rilles Till' of the.: 11 t
llad Ix,(,tI gi"en Ikrthin rillt·s ill 8tntn. llltt I,'ithtllll (,,'cn their
Ihr(,(:-1"01lIld :lttl11l0 dips, <:0 thilt ollly 'illgk r:lI'll"idge, rOllld hI.: loaded. In
I!l:-,O his I"('cciv('c! ex(dlem C.... r1lliln S:'ICs, hilt with Brit.ish
911ltll :tl\lIll1lt1ition -:1lI Itllt"eliilhlt, comhination injallls and
:1C(idetltal Tlwir 'llppnn we,q)Oll' \\'erc 7,62111111 Reibd
:'11 fl31. \ fortress machine (Jilt uf l:IgillUt I.ille C:lsc111at{',
ami rigged 011 uipocb. \,hid, wefe pU(lrh .Irlapledlor infallll' usc',
Qne diOicult\ \"IS 111(' L'$X, hO:-lilil\ to this colonial \',11" before 19-19.
\\ hell Iht' F'n'lI.-h r....ce:."(\ L'S if, ftlr in'I,lIlce. tiln propo'f:<1 M:mling
tu \'ieltlalll L'S-<:upplied :lirCl,IIL The 11(1\' lIt" ,lid incrt.';I'!t-'c1
aftel' ,ino" itl Chilla in I!H9 ,l1ld the COtlllllLlllisl of SOl II h
Kurea in to the pOilll \, h('I't' \Ill' L's.-\ \1':\' ht';l1il'g a <:igllillt':l1ll part of
.- '':
The CEFEO WilS short of
skilled spec:lallsts. Ap.ar1 from Its
line battalions the FOf'elgn LegIon
provided HNlce units, Ilke
the 2nd Medium Repair Co.,
whose b<tdge Is displayed on this
Mack wre<:ket" trvck- (ECPA)
- -
lht' 100al CO'I of \,";"Ie hUI Ihe rdatioll,hip relll"illl"(! ..\nwrit.l ....
price' ;;('1;01" lo\\,In6 \i".'lIlartl""t· inelC'p,,:ndt.'ncc: <lnd ,I
\·iclII'lInl'''t.' ='aliollal .\rlll\, fur \,hich llIall\ C$ \1I-'<lI)lm, \ICfl' l'xplitith
Tlw French \1'Cfl-' ,lIlibiguOll' aboui lhi.. PfuH',lImlll-'; l-,';\l'n lht'
douluftll comh,1l \";lllIt' of ,\:,\,' unih. the.:\ \I'erc oh'ukll'
e.:(plipllle.:111 \Ihile.: lhc L'S .. upplit,,, I'l'rl' diH'l"ll'd I" Fn'tll h uniL<;.
MAIN FRENCH COMBAT UNITS
Space prC\l'lIh :1 cOlllprdwn,i\c li,t; IIUil ("\'oltHioll \1.1' cOlllple:l.. III
p;lrliclll,Il, we omit comhallllliLS \\ hidl \\Crl' ani\c ouh prl··llt·n'ml'M·r 19-16
or 19:' I. :md ,Ill ",'nin' lmiL,.
Befon: 19j I arliUer)', from IX)lh and CHlnnial fl-l,rll1lellb.
\,,1:> allllu'll'lIlire.:h ,t;llic; ill Ihal \l'ar and Ihfl't:-halle.:n
ht'g;1ll 10 ht: au,lt'hefllo Group). For 1lI0'1 ..I lht.' 1\'<lr lht' 'I,ll it
a1'lil1cr\ IOtalle.:e1 ht'lln't'II 2:)0 (lm1100 gUll" ofaSMIrtcd 1\ and the tOI\t'e1
Iliohik ;ll'lillt'l"\ aht)llt till' ';11111-' of L'S 10,-11nln 11!'-12 1101,'il/t'11o,
The norlllal lour in IIlc!olhin<l la"tt'd abolll tll'O \t"II-'. \\'ithin IIH'
inf:ulIr)' lhal lllliqud\ Frl'llch i!htillllioll, Iht' b<llfllflQII dr /IIf/1r111' (Inl) .
•tl1o\,cd 11ll' nC:lliull of -.(lIlwlilllt.... ,hOlI-li\ I'd I.tsl.. group' frolt1
l'!e.:lllcnb of Ollc 01' 1II0l'(' p.lrC"1lt unit", From 19.')1 De Ltllrl,;"'" cllt'rgl'lic
programme lIluch 10l:ll rC'ITuitlll"'llt inlO nOlllinalh' Frcnch IInib;
l\"piGllh imohl-'fl \ 'iCIlI;lIllt.'SC lonnillf.;" al one.: h:llI:llion of lIIulti-
b,U111liol1 "cl;"imcnts, :1IIe1 ,t1 lC:bl onc ("01111).111\ \,'i,hin llominalh Fr('nch
hallalioll", E\e.:n after the complclc battalions \Ien' ll";lll,fcrn'f! to tht'
\ 'icln:lm('sc !'\aliol1aI,\nm ill tile.: local I} rClTllilCd (']elllcnl withill
l10lllitlalil Fn'nch lll1ilS wOllld itnpona11l, ilOll1l·tilllCS e.:xcCl·dillg:
501)('1' Cl'l11.
illf:lllll"\ 1:>:'lllaliol1' of all c'llcgn';c" had dm:.,<, lille cotllpanic.. ,lIul
a ,ingJc IwadqlMl1CI1> :md :>llPPOI1 C1>mp:tll\; in Ihe lirc )llppOrt
dcnwllb \\ell' I,c;tl... ",",Ilh
\(ilh ol\h pairs of ,30c:ll
81nllll ;mel or 601l1ln
1II0rtar-.. and RCLs (jinull
or 7.:illllll rccoille" rilll's).
lnortar COIll-
inc1lldillg SOI11e.: llilh
Iwa\'\' 120111111 llllws, l\'t'f('
fOl"llwd fronl 19j() 10
impro\t' fir<.'
\\llerc a \,hole n.,.,-';me.:111
I' liste.:c1 Iwre lhis lbualh
iudie.lIt·' thrCt' b<1II,llioll' -
l'.g. 2ie RIC )ignilic,
I. 11 &: III 21e RIC; Ihe)l'
wcrl' disb:meler! in OClol)('r-
I)cccmhn 19:i2 II illl
01 10c:11 t'1CIIlt'nts to
A.'\\' IIllib, the l"Cllwinrler
fonning it ,ingle Batailloll de
.. rdll', 2lcr
13
14
Mctro!wlitan Infantry French \'OIUl1-
ICC'I.... 1I11lh: leI I\alailltlll d'lnfall-
leric (\".\lrl(l'lt· (leI' BIL\). 3c
UIL\; 1{('!{iUlC'lli d'lnf;mlnlc;
I:\<- RI: ·I!lt· RI: 110(' RI;
Inl 1.-llt·RI.
Coloniallnfanlf")'The.·"I.· forllll'd Ihe hul\..
of dIe illf.UlII'\. mainh di'I>t:I"'cc! ill
1>O'>h. tUllll}lJ,ilion; larg:ch
Frl·llch. Wllll' .\frican later
hc.l\'\ loCl1 n'n uitlnclll. Ilnlb:
I leI" Il"lllf;lI1lelic C.oloni:llc:
ler RIC: I{IC. Inl Jc RIC: f)('
RIC: Icr $.; 2(' 1It- RIC: 21c RIC.
23c:RIC:--I3c.'
RIC. ·I:x" RIC: IIOc RIC: I $..·11 Rg-I.
ell' Con:'t.'.
Foreign Legion Infantr)' Forcign \"Ohm-
1('Cl', I.I\t'r Il"ilh local l"('CruitIl1Cllt.
lllti,,: 2t· I{l'g:iTl1l"llt tnnf.lll-
IC·lic. :lc REI. :)(' REI. I:lc.· [k'mi-Rolf-Ide.'
DBLE).
Airborne Troops Frcnch ami
loltlllltTrll witl1 10t.11 H·e.rllitmcnl. Thc
mad.:.' tllcir rqllll,uion ill 111dOl-hill<l: as crael.. IrOOI:K Il"illl aggrc.··..
lililldc'd c,ffitc·I.....llle! \'inll.llh thc wlh Ilhich ("Olllci achic'\c ,>ll;Ill'$;ir
thl'l eUlll1l1iul'c1 IU .1II t·xhallstinJ.{ !)<!Cl' of upcr.llion'>. nll'\
11101.. pan ill hOlh 1ll.1jm· Off('ll,>i\'c drops. ;mcl in nc:lI·.... nicicl(· mi"ion'> to
rescuc i'>o1:1\('" llni,,: :md llle\ fOllJ.{llI as inf<lIlll'\ in l·\t·n I..illd uf
olTcllsh'l' atld (kf"n'>i\ (. upera' iOll. "111l'\ acllic\'ed m:lIl\ local '>IICCe"t·,>. hIll
suflt'H'd n'l"\ hig-h ca:-t1;t!tk'>: morc Ihan Olll' ballaliun 1\';111 c0111pkteh "'iped
Oil!. reformed. and atltlihil:llcd a '>Cl"Ulld tillle IX'fure the
Thl'lypkal p:H"dlllll' illfall!f\ 1J;1ttalioll In l:OIbi'>ICd ol:m IIQ
s.: '>llppOt'l CC)I tllJ.lll\ .tllc1 fOIl!' lilk ofWllich al fil'>;l nnC' aIJrII;ucl"
llln \\'1'1'1' \!l'lIlallW'>c': Illc' !inaI 1I11S ·Hi) and ,lOti
\,ic·l11al1lnl'. TI te" IIQ 8.: tpplll"l C0111p:t It\· had pain. I If H1111111 11Iort:, rs.
. :ll1d 5il11l1l rt"placc'd in s()me unilS ali,"r [9:)1 h) i.)1II111
Rr.1 ,,>: (Ollll);UI\ IIQ'>cC" IC)II'> 11:ld 11"0 t)()mm 11101'1:Jn•• or one 011C
111:1dlille !{Ull. ,,'1'1'([ ill Illd'>l.hill;' 11nde!" a cOll1plcx 'l'lic, (If de....
ign;ui011' arul thc' \\"crl' l·ilhcr
Colonial. or Forcign l.cgioll. Ullits:
Metl"Opolitall 11"1' 1l.11.li[!cm dl" Cho( (I IT IlPC). 19·17-IH; I ICI'
Reg-iIIit'll! de P;... 1!)--li---I9; II leI" I{CI'.
III II"I" I{( :I'. 1\'"11.11I1cll1 l'ar'adlI11l...lc dc CI1:I\'o('III"':1 1'1,,(1 (10.'
I\I'CI').
Cofollia/19lR. Demi-UligaclC' S.\S redelliW1all'c! 2<.' DI\CCI'
(1)<"11,i,Ulig;:lll(' (;OIOlll;lk' de l'amchllli,;l('s). ()11 formalion.
19Ii-:, I. 'lI"l"("Wl h.. Wl'n' kr. 2c·. :k.. ("-'. 7e & 8c
I\;U;lillon'> Col{llli.1U-';: dt' Comlllandu'> (Beep); and frolll
Hanoi. July 1950: Algerian
TIr;1l111eurs of'" 8M11e RTA
parade In tropkal full dress-
turban with pinned<Ol"l unit badge.
khaki drill .hlrt and slack•• red
...h••1..... patch 100 ranking.
cltatlon !;Inyard aoo dlK'oraUons.
Th. NCO. stili carry MAS.38
machln. pistol•. North African
unit...rved bolh In the .talic
sector def.nc•• and In several of
the Groupes Mobile•• (ECPA)
\I.lI'ch 19,-,1 I\<uaillotl' ell' (lWeI.
111 l!tH the & Iwe \1,1' n'lilktl 'ek ChIN'.
FQrf';!i" ugiQII ItT 1\,II,IillOll cit- 1'.II'lChuti,u:'< (In 1'). 2t· nEil.
I 9·!9-.. I 9:)-1,
Non.European Infantry:
Algeriall & Tim;s;all Rifles ?'\nnh ,\[nean lululltrcl""" wliL': kl, 2t', OX'
I ler RCgill1t'lll dt' Ti\";lillt'III"",. \lg"i'ricll<:>: 1er, 2c, :x' Il\l 21.' RT. \: 1CI', 2(',
:k· :k RT:\; <.... RTA; .It', :)1' 7e RT.\: 21(', 2&", 2.k 2i('
UTA: IN, 2.,. :k 1\:-'1 ·k RT1:
MQJ"t)c.'("(JII Africall 1I11i1S: kr. 21'. kr
ell' Til,lilll'lll"", .\Iarocain,: hoI. :k,·k 1\:-'[ 21' 1\:-.1. I. [[ :k
'It'RDI:l.lI,lll.l\' &1\:-'1 .;;cKnl:[l.lIl.&lt\1 fll'
RT)I: 'ie U:-'I I'M: RT)I; 101.' In\1.
A10/T.ltTfIll GOIIIJI;ers ?'\OI1II. \flican \,Ollllll{,'t'r olicn II ilh IOGII :Ill:\.·
iliaric<o attached for rece<' To,hor" (hattOlliulh) l';lCh of Ihr('I' CoOlllll!o
(cullll"lIliC'o) pltl' IIQ. E.g.. dunngJ:ulII.lf\ 19j 1-:'\O\('IIIIX'r I!lj2 Groupc'
:-'Iohik 2 in Toul..in indllded l'ie 1';lhOl (I-k. 1&' &: 221' (,tllIlI1') \\ith
:lt1atl1l'd local,1k K· 2/'l.21' &: Llnli.mlt"x· (LS:-.1.. )lail1 lI11k,: kr,2t',
:K'. &'. 91.'. Ilk:, lie, Iit, Clbor...
&"'t'JJalese & Afrirol/ Rifles 'k:ol S: CI'lIlrat .\llic:tll lohllllt:t'I' "ilh 1.11"'".:"1'
Fl"t'l1l'h cadre. 2-it' Rt,"g-il1l('111 Ill' :-'1:Ln hI' de- fit.lilh·IIl'
(1\\0 hl1'<.); 8..: incl.; leI' &:k el'.\lriql1l'
On:ie!l'nlak Fr:L1It;ai'l': 2c erA ec'nlmit' E
Armoured Cavalry French \'0111111('<:1" I\illl lue,1 I't'tTldlllH'l11. L'llil'< \\l'n'
(It-plO\l'd ill "i(lt-h di'l>l'I"-l.'t1 "flll:lelroll' fur fOll!l' ,ccllril\, 1011\'0\ t·-.cor!.
I·IC.: 110 rigid ofg':l11i,:ttioll \la, pl»"ihl .. , 'Illd 1110'1 illlorpul,l!{,'d Llrgc
1II0loli,ell inf.lntl' dt'llll"'h.
In 19,;1 De 1.:ltlr(·orlf<llli..ed Iht: Ii ..... 1'\0 'xJlIl1,.TWIIIJ('I/If'III, IYII/(/M (SGn),
l'ad' \\illl one 100nl.. -<1'Mdroll off0111
pl;IIOOI1'<. cach of tlm.. 't'" l.lllk. Pl.i\l
SIII.,rb. I.u('( ChalTt:c,) ;mrll\\O
hallll';lc\...,. om' or 1\,'0 halfLr:ld.
illlel 100Ticd il1f.tllln cOll1panie,.
(;wuIJrI "'E,v(/(!mll( IfI' Upmlllla;.\$I1I/(I'
((;ER) Imel 011t: 1:1I1\" 'Iltl,t1,lrun, om'
rl'lU' ,eli'Mlron of lhl'l'e platoons
cadi 01 Ill'c' 011'11\('111"('([ {·ar..... alld
Olle p1.IIHon ollhl'l'{' :-'UO! II)[C 73111111
SP 1t00,·ill.(,!"l>, IOGII il1r:llltl"\. )bin
IInil';
Jer Rgt. de Cllassel/rs it CII(..'lial -
f(llllll'l1 Sr.B 2.•1 GER. 6c (;H/II!N
(/'bmdrotls A.mpllllnl'\ (.E.\I
li",l..in.
4t! Rgt. dl' DragO/I)' Portes
Cod,illc I,illa, . \nn:'I1I.
51' Rgt. de Cu;mss;f'n ·Ro)'a/..PoIDglII'·-
( All II imit i 11.1••-\1111,lIn.
Rgt, d'l"jrmll'1';e CololliC/le cIt! MCII'OC-
dt"pill' lilk. a11 ,lnt1l)II1'l'd llllil: 1)\
0<;10bef" 1952, near Ttl le, Tonltln'
Cdt. Blgeard - In red beret - led
his 6e BPC on their sacrificial
Jump Into the ThaI Highlands In
the path 01 Glap't 312 Ohllslon.
The stretcher.. bearel1l may be ThaI
partisans, or possibly PIMs picked
up on the march !rom local posts
- thelNl Interned 'VM iSl.Ispects'
otten accompanied French units
as ptH1e111 and Iabour1ll1l.. (SPI)
15
,.
Getl. Renj COlInI'. C·Io·C Ground
F-. Tonlt.in, Inspects
T1...llIeurs of ttIe 3e eMf.. ATM
1ft.. an action at Gla Loe In the
northern Deb, a.t. 1953:
e"'-rac:leristiealtw, the r"'l\eurt'
lurtNon Is worn wrapped tightly,
lndl..... The VIet Minh
I'Iatvrally tll<goetecl Nofth Alriean
ItoClflS lor ......oluliONIry
propaganda, and .lngled them
out 'M special att.nllon In prison
camps. IECPAI
Tonkin. UJ53: M24 ChaN.. tanks
of 1., RCe. In the lat. Hl40s the
armoured cavalry had only
••aorted light AFlJ. - Panhard,
Humber, Coventry, Daimler Ind
White armoured and SC04Jt C8r11
and Bllln carriers: some units
• ven fought as Inlilntl'y. lat.r M8
amoourecl can. M3 hatftTac:ka, and
M5A1 StuMt tanks amv.d; .f'ler
t"' most had CnaftHS, wlth
NHtrKks for the
infantry who -.. Int-.ated
down to squadl'Otl 1eYeI. fSP1t
19:12-:,;\ if had 11\0 :\12·\ taul.. and Ih'-t'e reUl' and lin' illf;lIITr'
C01l1IXltlic,: !onnl:d en:1 s: GER 2 - Tonl..;ll & .\I1I1.un.
ler Rgt. Etrrmger de Cm'a{e/"ie- fouglll :t, inlanll'\ in Codlitlchina and
.\lll1al11 1917, Iho.:Il \,'i1l11lIixI1l1"1" u1 annollrcd (·at.....
laul..,: 1!l1R. piorwered IN: 01 &: I.\T ',\lIigalO!"' in 'l111phihioll:'>
con,lxll role: b' I !fJ3 II;lll I R'!]Il:ldmm, illdll<lill!{ fi\l' IWlro.(lll,tdron Gr... \$
at and Ilaiphollg.
21', 5t> &' &, Rgt$. Je Spahis Maroro;lls, & Rgt. dt> Spa/lis Algent·us - mi,("d
ct"1"iplllt.·1I1 and l'l1lplo\lI\l'I\I. E.I{. llc RS:\I fOlIj.;"llt a, inf;ulIl"\ 191!t-:-12. !aU'I'
\,;th Ol\l' :\12-1 ami fOllr h,IIftr.U:1.. fOIlI\l:d en -1-, \nn:lm: &, RS. \
fimght ,I' infOlnln I!H9-j I. thcnlonnl-"C.I CB I - -I'ilul..in.
Rgt, B/i/ldi Colonial d'Eurelllt! Orit!1Jt -- fOlllwd 19:;(.1 \\'ilh :\11 ,Illel
1,1111.. de-.troH.'I"": h;I'\(.'d -Ifllll-il, tn lUllIIll'r ,11I\ clifl'Ct RI-"C.! Chilll:.-..c
i llCIII'Sioll.
Groupes Mobiles St:lf"'lIllidcut fornu:c1 frolll ,l'illler
1!1:-!O-j I on till' mn<ld uf \\'011<1 War II LIS 'ulIllhal cOllllnanrl,',
IE.adl LIfT.. could Qrry han a
platoon 01 Iocatly I1ICRlitlld
Infantry; although tha amphlblou.
vehicles ware fitted with machine
guns 'M some with 57mm RCLa
lor flre support, their pl"imllry
minion was to carry troop. Into
te"aln which only they could
traverse. They played a major part
In many combined operalJon••
typleally providing a rive, or
coa.tal 'plnc." In co-ordJnallon
with motorised and air-dropped
unh•• (ECPAJ
I'pkalh cotl... i ... tt'd uf lhn.:c
lorded illl.lrltn ball:llinn, 'Iilh
".. kmt'm, of lo\\ed artilll·n.
armour and or !allls. cllgim·(·r.
.llld medical IrOOlls
10lallin/o: 3.000-3.500 lI1en. In
llCH'll G:\1.s ,..en' :I\.lilable.
bl1l :II a 11Ilai of 17
\\"('rl.· r:li'ed from French,
Foreign l.egiol1. Africar •. \'il"l-
nanlt'S(· :lnd II/QI/(agl/a,.d IInil\.
«(;:\1s I-II ind.. [.1. 21. ·12. :11.
100)_ Valuable for rapid 1"('in-
forcertlcnl of Ihreatt'lled ,I.·Clors
in the Ddta: ill the hill.. ami
...\I'lIl1p' 11al"l"O\1 road, and 'abo-
tag("{.1 hridgc' ,100,'ed thcm dO\.-n
and left thcll1 \ulnerabk to
IIl;9or Represent;lli\e composilion:
2TonL.in.Jallua.... 1951-Juh 1%2: ("..01. C1clllelll.latL-rCoI. de
C:lI>trics. IIQ dement frolll:'e REI: 'lie BT.\: 1('r 1\)1 ler II
DBI.E: 1\' Gp Regl d'_\rlillcrie Colonial,,· de (lill"ee of
-I xI0511111l): Ill' & 17e "("i,bo..... ... : ar1110ured (a.. plalooll, t:lnL.
plaloon: local allxiliarie,. In 1952 Ihe l.egioll b:ulalioll Il"as
n'plan'd 1)\ hOlh the 2(' leI' KDI <111e1 2Se lY II'a...
rcplaH'(\ I R. l.
Grollpe Mobile 100 Ccnll,ll I-lighl:mdl., Den'mher 19:"d-Jllh 1954:
Col. 8:"1'0". IIQ Co_IOO: I & II Rgl. de Coree: RIC: 1\- Uk'R.\C:
III Esc jc Rgl. C"irassiefll,
AmphibioU5 Units Fonned for in ami w;IlC"'..".... e.g_ the
miliion-acl"l' Plain of \\("1 of 5."1igon, lhe TonL.in DeIL"1, and
.-\nnam_ B\ 19541\1"0 Croupcmems Amphibk'S_ mo-.lh from the I.egion·ll
IeI' REC. each had thn'(' 'quadron, of Ihn'(' of L\-r-t. phlll ,ix
L\T-A4 \\;111 73mm 110\1;I1.cr mrrelS.
Local Irregulars Throlll{hoLll the \\.11' Frencll fOrtlled lileir 0\'11
irregular 'comrnamlos' forcollrllcr-gucn-illa work. In 19:",1-5-1 a bdalccllmt
- Ihe Airborne Colllmando Group (CO·.\A)
- disrupted \":\1 in c1u' hilh of Tonkin, These bchiml-the-lincs
gllcnil1as pla\-l"{!the \ at lhci .. 01"11 g<IlIlC: lh(... e'l:iblislll'e1 safe from
,,'hich to mid. and ambl"h lll{' enelll\, hit line..:. aCI
'uip \,in-... · and I.(-OUIS for i..oble<l French units. and gCllc.. hallllx'r the
\":\1 erTol1. b"Cl1lUalh lotalling -.(1111<" 20.000. uncleI' lhe O\-el..11 direction of
Cell. TlinCjLlier. ,,"ere recruitcd from lIIoll/ftK'um/ll;b<."'I;_ lig:hlh
annc(1. and 1<--'<1 b\ handfuls cOUl"geou, and l'c'ourccful Frellch
juniol' t ..nk._ U\ing for man\ far b0.ond !'each of am' help. \'oung
:,\CQr; led of up 10 b.1.u,llion slrcnglll \\ilh great ... lIccel>:>.
the of thc French collaps(' in 195-1 slranded 1lI:J1I\ of lhe'e heroic
I.Oldiers and IlIf/(/WJ(I/"(1$ 1.0 de('p in ('l1el11\ tNnlOI'\ that the\ hac! no hop(' of
re;tching ",Ifet\. There \\'('re 11C:u·tbl'cakillg reporb of tllL'ir being
hlilltcd do\\"n bl the \'i('t for 111;111\' months .lfler Ihe ceasefire. 17
18
ABOVE LEFT The baslc amphlblou.
unh was the Groupe d'Escadron.
Amphibies, compri.lng one
squadron wIth 33 of the.e M2iC
We..e1.lto thto
and one with lIl.yen troop.
carrying lVT-4 ·AJIlg.ators'; three
PolII,.. ot squadrons up a
Groupernent Aulonome, later
retitled Groupement Amphible,
Notathe1...
a Cl1lb with ttl. legion grenade;
thto lidded .3Oca1 MG; and the bow
plate, characteristlcally swu"ll
back aoo thtln hammered down In
the mIddle - the rea.on Is unclear.
ABOVE RIGHT soldier's
fn;Nn the ganftoo 01 La! Chau,
abaocloned In Decembef' 1953;
their It typlcaI 01
local troops - French fatigues,
buthhats, lungt. boots, and e
mllltllre of webblOll and old
leatlMr equlpmenl. E"OIU to
form montagnaret. Into reguler
line unIts had mixed success.
Col.Vanuxem .wore by his
Muong battalion.; but though
brIlYe and resoureef\ll In their
own mountains, most tribal
hlghlanden _ .. I\Ilttll'lllly
unfitled for hoIdlOlI foxholet
under artllllll')' fire - these Thais
slipped -II)' through the wire
of strongpolnt 'Anne-Merie'
early In the slege of Olen Slen
Phu.(ECPAI
Arluee NationaJe Vietnamienne (ANV) Follo"'illg Gcn. Dc I.aure·s
il1\igoratil1g' ,lrri\'al ill 19:>1 eITort was made lO c:.:u-act 11lilil;ll)
rl'Olll tbe political fiction or lhe 'French Unioll' - all
emhracing France and lhe .. ibl\ ..clr-glwel'1ling \'icmalll, Cambodia
and l..... Gcnl"r.llh. formed ullits of Cambodian alld Laotian troop...
were 1101 highh' H'boarded due 10 their national culture of pacifist
Huddhi.. lll fthotlgh mal1\ I,er<' cnlisted. :uld prO\(,'<I amtiling
btu 1>.1.cili.. t,,).
:\ n:uiOlml aml\ for the son;l'I.':ign republic of\ietnam had been I:ln-
guidh in the I;\U' J9-40s. ,,-as illlroduced to
build up the and local recruitmcnl to Colonial and
inf.1.mr:o \I':\S ,,1:-0 Con"cl'iplion hroadcned the cducational base;
US \\"C"POIIS lI'ere providcd (and occasion:llI)' rcachcd the 11'( lOpS);
and olliccrs' <lGldemil.'S \\'ere Selup; :md in Gen, :'\guvcn \'an
I-Jinh, a distingllislH..><1 French air force \"ctemn of\\'orld War II. \I.IS Ilallwd

In \Iinler 19:>2-:>3 \ ietnamese prC\ioush allach(.-'(I for '(Ill Ihe
job lrdining' to Colonial and Legion regiments lormcd the nudei of new
battalions - {',g.. Ticu Ooan 62, 63, 6-1 &: 63 "ere formed from.
ler &: 2c lie RIC, I & II 22e RIC: aml TD 68, 75 8.: 76\lerc
formed frullIl\' 134: nnLE, IY'':;c REI. and \' ;\e REI. The...e, :md llw
\'iClllall1e"C' paras, were lll(' best troop.... oftcn wilh
\,ictna111e..e, ethnic (:;llllboclian or lrihal Tilt· airhorue h:Hlalioll...
(IeI', !\t'. ,-Ie & 7(' BP\"N - popularh. '!xl!ll(l/w//\') l'arucd a good replll;llion
fighting alollg...icle lhe Fr('llrh par" units \1 hicIT lor11led Ihem Uel\\C{'l1 Jllh
19:>1 ancllale 1953.
B\ ... 195-4 the A..,\y daimt,.'f! 11 '1'_11><'1" of I-I}
units in ..en:in· 01' under training: but their Oleut,11 ('lllIllibution ne\cr
approadu.."fl \\1Ial lhat figure ... uggolS. Of the nominal total -15 weI"<.' ne\1
'light (licu [)o;m Killh Quail) .. \';lh a high :-calc ofTIlolllpsc>n
in place of Iilie... ;mcl t)()rnm mOrlan, inqead orSlmm. :\Iuch
{'xpcctecl orllle TOKQ... "hich "l're ill ach'allce as
'comrn;mdo'-st:mdard lInit.. for harn'il1g the ill the cOlllllryside. Thc
qllalit\ of lheir persollllci. ('qlliplllCllt ami felll:lI' short of
claim; and made a IXlrticlllar point of :>llla... hillg lhem won
as till' were committed to combat.
1101\.11'£1 R. Silllp.-.on, \1'hoM' r1lllies with Ihe LIS Embass}' in Saigon in
19.·,3-:)-1 induclccl C\<tluating AN'\' tll1iL.. ill till' fide!. recalls that qllalil\
\Mil..-I \Iiekh. rdkcling h;llIalion lcae!en;hip: OIl(" which lought at 1':a Sail
(TD 36l had a \'en compctcnl NlIng cOllllllander - others had polili..tl
appOillln:.lo \1 ho lert all till" \Ior\.. 10 their Frcnch aehisers. "111C \\l.'althiel"
oftcl1 hliht..d tluj" OUl of ...il1g, :11111 tht, r:H1ls indll(!efl too IIJ.1Il\
presSif-lllgeci \illager'S gi"en onl... Imining. Static !;lll'riSHIlS l..q)[
their fillnilil'S \\ith them: and L...·CIl uniLS scning wilh Mobilc Group!> Icndfil
10 aCfluiw a dOIllt.'Slk 'tail' iflhc'\ sian-c! in onc place for long,
Intelligence operations French intdligence agencies and IOC:l1
inlercst groups silnult3l1eollsl) pUNlLcd their 0\"11 expt.·r1iclll
c011Ix'r:tting. SOIllC!illl('S conflicting, This shadow world o...·('(I.LS
Illllch 10 "1r:tiglnJix\\<trcl g:11l!.'StClislll. prolilcctillg. rUITcllC}' (Illig
slllllggling ami local politic;!1 and Clhnic 'turf w;lrs' it did to lIlilil:ll)
illlclIigem:e·. ,\ 101 of people made a 101 of lllOIlt.'}': a lot of peoplc wen'
nlllrdcn.'d -;lnd:l 10\ ofal1l1S :lnd Sllpplics to the Vict lIlinll.
IlowCvef. thc more Illilital)' i'lldligcncc \;L.. b - e.g, :leliaI
pholO and r:tdio inlerccpts - did :Ichic\'e some solid StUTCS-'it:S.
Naval Forces
The :\Iarin(' N:uionak's sITmll forces call1cd an cxcellent rcplllalill1\ - hOlh
the ;\('l"Ooa\<lle Hdlcat. Dauntless. Ildldi\'l'r ami (brien) C.orsair C,'CI,'S
filing- ofr the carricrs Dixlnm/(', Arrorn(mr"l'S ami /..a FrlJrlll' (and hlidl}. in
195·1. lJrJl5-/kilrou): and Ihe coasl:ll ami ril'cone units (Dinass:.llIts-
Divisions d'Assaul). These
\\('H,' fonn<-'d in 19·17-52 \Iilh <-'x-US
landing- cmf.. al first simp!) for
o\el'in<-' llC("UI'il" and resuPI)h, alld
inscnion of cmh;1I'kCfI local inr.-Hiln
(CoIIHuando!>. later l.ight Ass--wlt
Comp,"tni(:$ - CLo\s) during river ilnd
coastal elp<-'f;ltions, Some emf! were
soon armourcd and filled with
GUlilOtlttllTCIS fOf dircctlire support:
and thc D:'-1As pl:l)'ed a \-aillable pall
in m;UI) nJlllbill('d-anns opcrallOlls,
DinassaulS I. !-\. 5, and lalcr 12
openltcd ill Tonkin: 2, 4. 6. and Iatcr
8 alld 10 ill C,ochinc:hin:l and A,ln:l.Il.1.
Typical composition of a DNA was
olle lSI: I,Gr or ISSI,command anc!
fin' slIPl>ort ship: six 10 len I.CMs,
SOUlt' armoured ·monitors·
with gUll H1rn·ts. sonIc \\'ith 81111.11.1
mOrtars; three 1.C\"Ps: and three to
fin:' LeAs,
Air Forces
Chen their gre'lI reliance on air
lr:lIl!>pon and tactical support. the
French werc ,,1\\<1\"1 shOll ofpilots and
The VietnameH airbonM Ntt»o
k>ns wen! the I4IN unib;
Mre paras of 3e BPVN In
Hanoi, 1954, wearing M1lMTl52
jump uniforms. The
unit was raised in October 1G52
on ill nucleus 01 IoeaI
from 10e BPCP when U1a1
lion was shipped '-M1_
o;ommentary Pl;ote D2). The
had a ttrong Freroc:h
cadnl: on formation BPVH had
12 French omc.. and 22
and 51 NCOs, and
&1 and 818 eriisted men.lECPI\l
19
20
aircraft, ,\ir(T('\\ \\ere thinh
"lrc'u:1wd, often fh-ing an ('k
progr.unnll' of mi .....
O'er tcrrain from \\'hich du'\
could IWt hope fOl' iftll..:\
a cl,lsh-landing 01'
parachulejump, From 1951 \';>.1
anti-;Jircraft fire became increa:.-
ingk common and ,ICCllr:lIC,
;>.lal1\ I,'IX'S one
aumhel' <luling Ihe \\M:
inilialh Axis \\drlime
included junkerll ju52
Ficsekr Fi 1:,6 SlOrch
spollcr/liaic;on and ('\'en
a fc\\' japanesc Ki.f3 'Osc.u·'
lighters, L"Hcr Anllee de l'.-\ir
cquipmclll indll<kd Spilfire
P-63 Kingcobras. Grumman
HellcHll and Ikarcms. A-26
Il1\d(kr was the main bombl'!'
and increased 11ll1ll1)Cl's of
the G-17 OakotOllhc main l.ldllSpOn front 1931, By 19)3-5-ltI10: rJ('t.'1 illcliided:
75 )( C.f7s (19J-l.)( I(0): IGx CI19 Packets (L'S \l)lllnlcCI' CI'('WS): a fc\\' Ik'aH:::r
and Frcigillcr transpol1s: .f8 x.-L96 ilw<ldcrs: 8 S PI\·IY
engine bombcrs: and 112Iighlcr-lX>mbcrs.
lIelicoptn'S So fl."" \,'cre a'dibhlc that th("'\ \\cre limilcrl to the mo-.t urgem
medical ('\<tcuatlons. E,en ;>.Iarch the amilable fleet 10lalledjust 32.
di\ided between Saigon and Ilanoi. (See COlmnelll:U,\ Plate I-II.)
THE VIET MINH
Recruitment and organisation
The essential of the \iet ;>.linh was its \\idespread sUPIX>l"I alllong
the eh'ilian population, and its agelllS' penctratiun of the colonial
bureaucfaC)o :u m:ul\ fc,·eb, The infrastnlclllre, much of it ill place
before 1947. pro\irlcd tases, l'dtions. CSlnl crops for ,;ale. itllelligence
information, poncl's for the c\"CI'-g!'o\\ing logistic nCI\\'ol'k. and rcn'uiK
Althollgh the slIhsistcnce fanners who madt, lip ofche JXlplllmion
no doubt prayed to Ix left in 1}(';Jce b\ lX>th sides. \'ielllaill hac! a tltO\I<i;lllrl-
\'e;lr t..\Clition of resistance to ill\';lrlcl..... The Conllnunists \I"(,I"C 1\('\"('1'
squeamish in their methods of enforcing collabor.llion among the
rchlelant (p;trticularl\ in the south. \\ h('I"(' the \';>.1 chit.-f Uinh used
oUlliglllterror laelics), The French Illilnaged to persuade sollle n:lliOn;llisl
groups to make a separale peace - e,g. the 'Catholic' Cao Oai militia.
the 1-10;1-1 lao SCct, and lhe Binh XII)"CII (it f0I'111er handit brang who cnded
up policing Saigon·Cholon), 011 lIlt' \'ilal
imponance of cultivating rcal popular SIIpIXll1 \\'ere \\'c111eamed.
The \';>'1 targeted thc monel lendcr-. and landlords \l'ho made the
peasants' life \\1'ctchl.'-'(l: in the ,il1agc« inclOCllinalion \''as accol1lll:lIlicd rn
help ill the fields. and it popul:lr liter.to programme: !'l'quisitions \\ere not
--
Tonkin Hiller helleopter
e ...ac:uatltll two .Ireteher c....
from • para unit. 1lIe IIrsl two
Hitler 3&Os (UH.12AsI_re
aequired - by public sub$CripUon.
FathoM than mtlltary procurement -
In 1950. Betwfltn t952 atld 1954
there follOWfll .ill eac:h Hiller
H·23As and H·23Bs, efght
We.tland·bullt Sikorski
and 12 Slkor.kl H-19B.; 1
wer.lo.l, but 32 were allable In
195", TheM few mKhlnes
• ........ate<:! 10,820
during t95t-54,.nd 8,499 In
19$4 atone, see commentary
Plale H1,
Ambush...Atter nightfall no
pNItence was made of controlling
Ihe roads anywhere outside the
cillel; each morning 'road"
098nlng' palrols had to search
their sections for mines and
sabotage (clanlc:aUy, by 'plano
key' ditches dug from alternale
adn of ttle day all
tratflc oubkloe the cities moved In
8$Cortad c:onvooys.; and In the
Iorntad hill country Ram>w.
swItc:hbllc:k roads made !heM
e:tvonk:ally ""lne",ble to ambush.
Tlte VM were skilled at ehoosing
whlc:h vehieles 10 kno(;k out first.
trapping the rest for oestruetJon
at leisure. (SPI)
100 bunlcnloOllle. and WOI11CII \,ere 1101 The CHI-.cd h\
COITllpl ,'ietnalllesc .lIId b\ hc,\n-h,lIl<!ecl French milil;lI'
togclher \\ilh the prc'ligt· :lIld power of lhe '·it·!
)Iinh, ensurCfI a conlinuous 1101' of genuine \ululI\t'CI'" for Ciap', forn.....
For mam '"it'lIIame",,' .;.cnke ,b peWlel"S a11lhal I,"S re<!uired-
Ihough lhis mealll shaling all Ihe hardships and dangt'l'S uf long 1Il,IIThe-.
O\'CI" rough lel"rain. under' threat of air all,lc\.... When ,I ")1
manocU\ rc ullil was pa:.:.ing thruugh lhcir lenilO" 1IIl,' Ioc;ll ol'gani,el'"
ensured Ihal enuugh lllrlled OIH to C.Il·" Ihe supplic.:' and he:.n
equiplllclll for abOUl a wc('k - 011 Ihcir backs. or wlieding
bicyclcs - bclc)l'l: tIIrnillg O\'t:I' lheir loads 10 Ihe neSI ['(..'lay. It is
lhal a Rc.:glllar di\'ision nceded aboUl 50.000 poners lO mainwill it
rrOll1 it'> :Ire:l: lbe 100ai llllrnllt'r of men and \\"Olllell who died in
se"ice - from sickncss, accidelH. and cnell1\' :lCliOIl - can lK'\cr be "nm'·ll.
-1l1e Populi..· "'l'rl' in c;"lch \illagl" in 1\'0
The- Dan Quail org:miS(.'d non-illilita" helpers of Ixuh !>CXb> ;lIld all agl....
locan' aCI:b poncl.... and prO\ide t..'\l':'> and e;II'!t. lllC Dan Qll:ln
On Kich \,'cre pan-timc Illen agcd fl'om 1810 -13 \cal'!t I\ho.
altllough \ cr\ \\e.. "1\ anned, could OUI of their \illagt-.... 1)\ night to Glln
OUI local road ....... Ixuage. and C\en occasional atlacls on \'cn soh largt'IS.
I}opubr g;uhercd :1l1}lhing the French left hing around-
e.g. lInesploclt..-d shells and homhs were sah'agcd :lnd pl:ulted as Iandmint..'S.
who pro\'ed lheir 1\'o1'lh I\'ere selccwd for the neSl lC\'cl up, llll'
Regional forCt:S.
Rcgional units were lypiC:llly based. parI time. in hic\c-oul.s ill dinicull
:lIlcl111OS1 of lhe ,macks on posts and COl1\'O\"S duling the 'gllcnilla'
phase of lhe war fell 10 them. llwir \,'ere co-ordin:lled frol11 ahu\'c.:,
ho\\e\cr, and lht"\ miglH be lhrowl1 into all-out baule 10 suppon or
mas" the operations of main force 1I11ilS Il('arb\. III Ihe earh .... thc'>C
:.econrllinc lroops were SGlIlered in local (fntll!!(lfJI), platuolh
(JHum dOl). compank-s (dm dOl) or commandos (00 dOl) of\":ll'\ing milit.1I'
\<11IlC, Titlt." I,ere confusing and transiclll. and all<1:,T1allcc 10 I;:lrger Rt.1,';oll,11
regiment:. (rh, dOl) \,-as I'<uhcr than laniel!. TIle cOlllmand
nell,'OJ k \',h 011 Ihe hHegl''3.1Cd Zones (li", kIm) into \\hich the
COllllt" di,idcd from 19-18.
For ill Cochinchilla in 19-16--17 olle band actin' around
Go Dall J-1a and Trang Bang Ilonh-\\'csl ofSaigoll ";IS "lriOllsh D"i
These photos went taken for the
US Information A!Jllf'CY as the \lk!t
Minh 308 on.. entered Hanoi in
CktobeI" 1ts4,308 on.. bo dol.
HanoI. Ot:1obet" 1954: note (centre)
Frendt Iea1'- belt pouch, Mau__
rifte ...cl ow- canteen. see
PIaU G3. (Courtesy Howard R
...._1
rCo.No.Yt). 'illbordin:lll' to Chi Doi _-Ji ('Rg!. 01 1\0 Doi
1,IUI DClIlg I Comll1ando :\0,") - btll in fact it mure wideh
I..IH)I'1l a.'> 1\0 Doi I-IO:lIIg Tho CCollll1l:mdo Hoang Tho', :Iftt-r ch,ui...
lII.etil ho"c\(-r. In Dt'C('lnlx'r 1946 il \'1\S 1i:.1t.'i:1 as h:ning lhrel' lhrn'
UIG" f()ur and :!,} rifk,.
III 1918---19 m:lI1\ IInits \,cre illlo 1.ICllcal
h.l1t.llions (flrll Joan), INlalh fairh well anned alld lmim'll: and Iht......· illiU
1IC1l1lill:lll"l"j.,rilllcnb (Inlll1! rlOfIll}, though oftcn of:.ingle hotllalion 'lrcnglh.
Sl.'It.'CIl.'lI men wcrc "l'lll 011 k:tdcl"\,hip offiCt..'r" from Ihl' Chllc 1,llc
\It.-n.' 'l'lIl :.Qulh to S('c some anion with the more frcqllcuth CIII.,ragcd
Regional emits: ami lhe I)(',t wcrc in time in Illan·. a:.
full-limc Rcgulars (rhfl fur). A scattering of IndcpClldcllt Reglllar
n.'bYill\ents and baualion<: thtb appeared in \ .lre;l...
.lruuud thc COU1\tn,
For illst:ttlCC. in Cochinchina in DCcl'lllhcr 19·IV °l\u Dtli :\o;r
rqlrestOllttOd lilt" fighting ... In·ngth 01 °Regular .\lobilc Rj.{t. ZOUl' T. and
corupri<:cd Co<:.2719 (the old Corllruandu Hoang Tho). 2i21 and
2723; aftl'" Iraining north of C.ape il becanll' :Inivc
around Binh 1\h. north ofT;lIl L\'t·n. III Augusl 1950 :\glly('n Billh, tile
cUlllln.ulder;n Soulh Viet nam. his imo four Regular and
Regional fCj.,ri11lCIHS, Onc ba'l:d ill ZOIll.' i: Tlllllg 1)0(111 0111 Lllr DOllg
N'ai (. Rq,"ubr Rgt. Dong :'\ai '), of Uns.30 I (he"" 1"ClIl>OII<:): 302.
34H (:L<: lIh(wc) and :W4 (in(;lIItn): and 30':> (HQ 8.: -.el,in_,,». BI lhis lime,
im-idl'III:III\', I-Iollllg" Tho hitn-.elf had bcen lransferred and punishl.'ll for a
drllnl..t.'11 r,lInp:lge - the d:LShing f,'1ll'nilla lc.tdcr had 1)(.'("11 urlahk 10 ad'lpl
10 :l 'Iaff 1>er..1 i'l lhi.. nc:....' Rc:.1.'1lbr all11\,
Main Force formations
RI.'gula,· main force tlUiL' \\'\.'re fOllllc:."(1 ill Ih\.'
Yict Ibc and, after 1949, in Chilll'l>(" camp... al
\\'cn<:hall. I.ong Zhou. Jing ami S/U 'nlt.'\
l"l'tci\ctI lill' 1>c'1 a\-aibblc cquipmt'nl. lheir ,upph
Iinc., illlo Tonl..in heing b\ .llruel.. l1(.'l.'l
I' hieh 10 approximateh 600 b\ laIC 19j3. Thl.'\
wcre thoroughh 1IOlincd b\ expcricncl.'d
imlrllctor'i. -100 of I,'holll also UOSM.'d hllo in
Jllly 19jO. .\lld ,,'dike!. llll.'l fllfllled til('
uf l11;lnoell\TC under lhe direcl :l\llhoril\ of
Giap and his Iiclltenants.
The fiN formatiol1 I,'as ·Rcgi11lt·mal Group 308'
in 1 consisting of Rgts.;"\OS, 92 &: 102. By
.11f: I'nel of thc l'car:lOS ·Clpilal' Div. oplus Rg\S.17.J
and 209, had IX'Cll cquipped and lrainl.'d in Chilla.
111c Rl1-'lI1:lr di\isiolls had alll"Sl:lhlishlllelll oflhrcc:
inf:llItl'\ rlogilllclI\s and OIl(" ;u'lillcr\ h:U1,1lion: thc
rl.'gimI'1I1l>, offollr infanl'" :ll1d onc hea\'
\,·e"pon... e1c:mcllI (Iypicalh, 4 x i5mll1 gUll.... 4 x
120111111 1Il0,·I:lrs). The sllPllOfI ('I('menu grew
:.IO\,'h. :IS mOSI gUlls and hean mOllaN wert.' held
hack fo,' Ihl.' par.tllcl formation of a 'hean'
(.. nillen) di\·i... ion numbered 351. Divisional
slrellgth Ix.--g;:ln al around 12,000 men, and lalcr SCI-
ue<l :11 around 10.000. Thc 8()(hlrollg b:HtaliOIH had 20 machillt' .......lIls.
, II R21nm Inonal"". 3 II 7jmm :Ulrl ,1 Ilumber in ,uldiliull
(0 ,mall .Inn,. fOI111(:<I 1)\ lht' encl of 19.::.1 werc:
)0-/ Um(RgL,.9. o3i. 66. rim 31:; .-\1I\.l\n.): ]08 /)n.,. 88. 102): ]12
Dil'. 16.).209. rim 1:'-1 .·\m.Bn.): Jl6Dit'. (Rgts.98. 17-1. li6. plus
bl2 Iln.\\'pll'.Cu.): :mel ;20 Dm(Rgb.-lS. 32, 6-1). L..ue lhal \car a ]2' Dil'.
formecl- admini'lrnlh'ch ,It Ie.bl-lrorn Rgts.IS, 95 ami lUI in IIII.-'
Thua rhk'il area of .\Ilnam.
. \ddilionallndq>endelll RgL'" ill TOllJ,.,in "ere: 1-18 (Highbnc"). ·12. ·16
s.: '-,0 (Ddt.I). 23fC &: 2·16 (delcllCt· of\'ici B.I<:): in Annam, 96. 1088.: 803:
,mel in CoOt hillchil1:1, Rgl. Dong ?'\ai (Ulls,301 1030·1): Rgl. Dong- Th'lJ>
s... !'Ill. in II'll:: Plain of Rg\. :\()O (Plm are..l):
Rg-1. !"GO (fOi opt-'r;lIiolb Saigon): Rg!. CUll Long (Blh.:{OS, :\10 &
312. \'inh art-'a): ami Rgl.l:n Do (Blh.402. ·10·1. -(06).
n\ Ille unilb of ]51 1)111, included Ijl Eng.Rgl.. Ilea"
\\'pll"Rgl, (H211l111 -1.-) .-\rn.Rgl. ( 10:)111111 67:-, .\11\.Rgl.
(TI111111 pad.. ho\..iul'l"S s.- 1201lU11 :lIld .-\A RgL (3i11l1ll .\.\
hflllh. ,,->Ck;tllll.lchiIR' gUll'l.
SUUICC' difTer O\'cr \:'1 hut ,II Ihe bcginlling of 191i tIR'\
IOI.. lk·1I ,thuUI :>CI.OOO Regul.I.....md 30.000 10 j().OOO Regional and POI>ular
force... In 'Ulllmer 19j() '-Ome 2jJ)()() Ret;;oll,lb \,ere up-graded 10 Rt:'$(ul:u....
gi\illg (,i,lll aboul 60 Regub.. h:H1.llion, for Iheir fiT'o1 counp,lign. L'lcr
t-.... linl.llt... ((lIOiNI aa': (end 19.1!) 110.000 Re'gub..'i. plus 200.000 10 2.)().OOO
Rcwollal and Popul.ar for('c,: I,unullcr 19j2) IIO,()OO Rt·gulal.... i3.000
Rt'giull.tl,mll 120.()ClO Popular foret": ('pring 19.13) 12,j,()OO RCt;U131....
75,000 Re¢oTl:t1 ,llIel 250.00() P'>puLlI' [o..et.-'.
For thls historic occasion Giap
clearty had hk 'old
division fssued with ..... uniformS
and equipment. This group of
singing soldie,.. without field
equipment show the cut 01 the
lightweight unifornl, 01 khaki Ot'"
pale gn!'Y/green drill. The bamboo-
and-fibre helmet is .._red with
..loth and netting and beilrs •
metal badge (il yellow liar on a
red di$C:); the soldier sec:ond lrom
right wears instead. pith helmet
with the SlIme ..overing. (Courtesy
Howard R. SimpsonI
23
24
<
308 Div. $OIdien In Hanoi with
ChInese cloth knapsack.
complete with folded blanket.
and rolled ground.lIMt.; some
whIte enamel mIl1lS W8f'e
decorated with nag. and
Both US and Chine'M canteens
ani worn. and ChI_ cloth
carriers tor stick grenMloes.
Weapons In this photo ...
mostly M_rifle.. MAT.4h
and C:r.ch z..27 LMG"1COur1"y
Howard R. SimpsonI
Weapons
In 19-1::' ,Ihom :\0.000
j.lp:lIIe,e :mel 2.000
\,elll llllhih 10 Ihe
.md l'olHllar
thi." Rt..gulal.... H.'CeiH.'d
FI"l'nch we;lpOll.) foram'.-I\
:>(.·izctll)\ lheJ;lpal1l·"C..·. :\Iore
\\'Capcnh I,cre 1.ller
1)\ the Rl'd Chinese
,1m! the l:SSR (Ih(' laller.
from elpllll'l.'d in
:\lanc!llll;a). fll IIH.' end of
19..D Ihe IOlal \':\1 anl·l1al
about 60.000 3.000
a fl'\\ Fn'lIch anrl
Jallanl'sc 1lI0nars. aile! IX""
h;lps half a dUlen fidd gUlls:
Ihe\ al'O hacll:trgl' <llIanli.
tit.O<: ol'"grcnadt'S (\lhidl \lnt'
more freeh th:m rifles
to the Popular militia) .
.\P:lr! fromJapane'C and
French \H:"apollS Ihl'rl' a wiele r.lI1Re of olhers frOlll
AlI1criclll :lIld Czech amll.:\ICs ,,'('re till' :\':lliollaiisis
or handrd ovcr laler by Red China. \1';1' L'$ cquiprm'lll capllllwi ill "-on'a
(illcluding I);.IIOOJ,,;I'. dlld lar'}:l:cr llllllibers of i[)I11I11 Rei..,. lhall Ihl' CEFED
had) .. TIn- lil....1rCluming FI"l'nch unilS lII(}.)lh Imd CS and Wurld \Val'
II 1'"1)(.". \\hich later fOllncl their \I<l\ 10 local allxili;u;cs. and hCIlce illiO lhe
of the \ ICt :\Iinh - \lho benefited ,It hand frolll lhe L'S
aid prugl";lllllTlC to FI",;lllce frolll IfI.')O Oll\,';\rck Till'\ al ....., and
in anus through nmil.llld anrl the Philippincs. p:lIth fumkd b\
lht, ok oll;cc: :llld opium out of\":\I·hdd arCOb.
llle \;CtOI'\ on RCI ,lIId ab;mdonnWllt of I.ang Son in aUlllllln 19.-,0
them abOIlt 8.000 French 1.200 9::.0 125
Illon,II'S. and 1:\ gum. Dur;ng 1951 the ChinbC prO\;dcd some 18,000 1;lk..:.
1.200 D0-200 lllon.l1'S. and 50 Czech RCt...: during 19:-,2. another
10.000 rilb, -1,000 S).lCs, -I,JO mortars, 120 Rei ... , and lht· firSl lll'tior deliv-
eries of AA and field lorce Regulars arc S<lid 10 h:l\'l' n'cci\'l'd
l'llough 10 equip Olle ill Ihree: nOll,French llpes
indl\{kd the Scnict PPSh·11 Chinese T\l)(" 50. thc PPSh-t3, nlOllll)SOll and
Stell .. Ughl machine gun' (French F:\1.2-t Clech DPs.
and a f(....w L'S n.\R, and Briti.)h Ikens) wcre al-.o plelllifu1.IK'rhaps 011:1 ;;('lilc
of Olll' pc... r tell-man :-c:..clioll.
TACTICAL EFFECTIVENESS
Viet linh Regulars. ,Iucllll:lll\ Regional \'Cl't' lil'Sl da'\S: il dear tllm
lhe\ had marie Ihe.· from gllt.·n;Il:l" to ..oldiel'S..
:':Cllll,11 \Iho llIanagt'd 10 time \,'itll \I'el'e
impr('SSl'd b> their discipline and Throllgholll the
1: Sergent, 5e RIC; Saigon, 1945
2: Adjutant, 1er Sn de Choc; Op.'lea', Oct 1947
3: legionnaire, 3e REI; northern Tonkin, 1948-49
A
3
2
y
----_.,.,
1: Tirailleur, 2e SM/ler RTA; Phuc Yen, 1951
2: Tirailleur, 11/3e RTM; De Lattre line, 1953
3: Mokadem, Goumiers Marocains; Tonkin, winter 1949-50
B
2
1: Caporal-chef, Infanterie Coloniale, 1950-54
2: Commandant, Tabor Marocain; Tonkin, 1950-51
3: Soldat, Rgt. de Coree; south Vietnam, December 1953
c
D
e
~
~ ' t -<'
i
_ r'
; ~ A o a
/
-, I
I • .,J \' ...!.
1: Sous-lieutenant,
5e CuirassIers; south Vietnam,
1950-54
2: Soldat. 1De BPCP; Vinh Yen,
January 1951
3: Soldat. 2e BPe; Hoa Sinh,
November 1951
2
3
3
1: Soldat, Be BPe; Tu Le,
October 1952
2: Radio operator, 11/1 er Rep;
Op.'Camargue', Aug 1953
3: French NCO, 5e BPVNj
Dien Bien Phu, April 1954
2
,
E
F
1: S9t porte-fanion, 1er Bn Muong; Tonkin, spring 1952
2; Nung irregular, Phung To, August 1953
3: Viet Minh guerrilla, Cochinchina, late 19405
3
1: Officer, VM Independent Regulars; Cochinchina, 1949-50
2: VM Regular, assault equipment. Tonkin 1951-54
3: VM Regular, 308 Division; Hanoi, October 1954
G
3
1: Medecin-capitaine Valerie Andre;
parade dress, 1951
2: OM 1ere cl., DNA 3; walking-out dress,
1953
3: Lt.Co1., Foreign Legion infantry;
walking-out dress, 1948
I
1
2
l
H
:lIlclllinl1 III taniC'.l1 (klail cxcclknt. hOlh ill (";1I11P :llld Uti dR' marcll -
cmphil,i, l:Iid on l.1111ouflagc. nighl 1II0H'IIICIII, di'l>crsal ami
rtb..-.clllbh in f,ln' of lilt." ('11('111\. "ill! 111(' "illlll!t.'S1 r.llinn,
::luellllinimal nuxli(";ll em.' and comfort".
The \':\1 wen' ,l.ilk:<I:1[ cum:tlkd lllOH'l!1t'llt in lhe.: \\or'l
Il'l"r.\in. Wil h Ihcl1l. Thi, j,fol\e Ihell1 .1 ;UIl,III-
ta!;"t· over l!1olorisl'd Frl'lIch I1l1nt' complex lug-islk Ill·nlc.
kC]>tlhclllliPello the inadeqll:llc :lnd road tl(-'I\I"nrk (;1"lll·I'llh.
ollh lht.: hi:;;' Fn:l1ch paml roop IlllilS could 1l1:11l"i1 Iheir
in thcjung:k hilk aml,hat fill'vllh limiteel 1)(·I;oele.. It for Fn'llch
,Iircmfl 10 inflirt mudl lCbS nn on the 1ll,IITh. though thl'ir
'llpph lillcs IIlllch \1'01"*' (t·.g. in 19.'",1. tilt' hllg:(' drol' 10
'upph lhl' Dictl !licn Phil aml\ 500 miks I"rom lilt' \Il·tl\'lc h'I:>c.:,,).
Frl'llch Onil'l'" relll,lrL.(..l 011 the l· .... dk'nl Iielclcrafl. Thl'" \\l're.:
of IIII' alllbll"h. on ;111\ -.cOlle. nlc1r 11(';1\ \ \'C:lIXlIle. allel ,Irtiltl'l"\ Wl'n'
dUg" in and cllllollllag<'d <;() wdl - oftcn ill Ih(' \\hich hOllt'\COlllbed
lhl' o( lill' high COUlll r\ - lhal IIll'} cOllld ht: e.<:rwd \l'itholll rn('alillg
Ih<:111Sl·1n;s to or COllllll·I'-lire.:. nhligl'd IU l"('lliaill
Illort: Slillil' in Ilc)lllillalh- Frl'll,h-c.x·cllpied ;11'<:;IS, \1'('1'{.' hrilli:lIll al
ami cOllccahm:llI. ...-ging-lull1plt-s Illldl'rgl011lld hidl'o\ll' and .
. Oil Fn'lIch IXhb \\cre Ihoroughh pn:p:tn'd ,I(u'r (";In-flll
rt-'COlllliliSS;lllce, lIsing groulld plan French tll1ib \1('1"(' idellti-
fit-'ll before ,,'erl' ...dt"t:"ll"-l. and till' "ere UIlGIIIllih gUlxl ,II
feding OUI \\cal. pointS. all;ll \\l'!'l' oflcn bunched - "llicalh
h\ Rl'gional IIIlih - 10 t-llnfll"'l' .111\ SUPllOrtillj{ eflon b\ Ill'i1r!l\ Frl'llch
anilkn: ami allll)ll.shcs \ICI'C 'OCI along appruadl l"il:lrl ... 10 hlock rdid
("0111111115.1'111'1 hnlllglllilwir lnnn;lrs. RCI_... and g\I11S inul al,i(lIl r.'L... l :lnrl
:lCcllr:l1£>h. ;md plOlll:<l - e.'.g. ('OllllH:lll<l ;uld
and hean \\'l'apull
French "Oldil'I,,'illllld il 11l1llCn;llg" lhal cUl1\cllIionallllilil,!l"\
\1<:1"t· cQmbillt-..-1 \,ith ,I "il1ingll(,"S 10 lak(·I,ornfi(' (";c,It:1llit:, ill 'hUIlI,1I1 I'<i"t"
a.'S:1II1t5. OnCl' inf,lIltn \\cre..' cUrlullilll..-IIU;1I1 ,llt,ld, tht"ir Men-
lilial, A.S::IU!t". kd h\ \'ohmICt'N ""l( hd ('hargl'" ;md b;lIlgalon'
lnrpl:<!oe<o. \\crc prosed hOllll' :Il;:.till alld ,Igain OWl llll' coq:N.,<hoL.CfI "in'.
.\!though i1lCl'ssant polilical i1ldoclril1,lIiol1 \\,IS ('DIlChcd in IIlrgiti
C(lIllllllllli,,1 jarg"OIl. memoir' make clear Ihal ullil and 1)(·,....lInal lo\O\hic;;
carried 1110r(' rC;l1 \leighl for illdilidu;lls. The COll1l11i"',I1'" prt.:adll'd tile.'
im:\'itahililY ufl·innl....; yel Gi;lJl - fal' more Ihan lhe French high Cflllllnalld
-:itl'CSSl,d lile 111\' (·IIt'Ill\.
TIll' bo do; I\,IS ol1h hUlIlan, ,111<1 mOl';lk 11111'1 han' ,ulkred hadh i1\ lhe
facl' of thl' hugl' Ghuahi(· ... - frum ,uppal"! 1\"l'ap011', anill<:l>. ,Iml
.lir-<lropIX"C1 lIap"hn - dUI;ng Ihl' l)(Nliollal 1>.1111('" of 19.) 1-.'"1-1: \('1
:Ihholl!{h there.' 1\,1." ,I 'Iead\ l1;cL.k of (C\"CII .....'Illl· n.. ·ld
uffin'l"S and commi""ar<:) Ihl'l(' \\l'!"l' fl'\\ I..I1U\\1I in... lalllt· ... of Rcgula..
COlllmander' 01 llniLe. cutlap"illl;' (Dul;ng: Ihe \\Ol....! ...... ,II Dil'lI Hit'll Phu
rcports did mention Il'ndelU il's' - CUlIlllli",II-'peaL. fl)r
;111\01110\" "lfca(h in l11Ul'dCrllu-, lighlil1g.)
\ let :\ 1ill h lI)nHII,ll1defllloll(lwt:d Olll' donrilll' \\ hidl Fn'll\ hl11el1 (oulld
$hockil1g:: I'L'illforct'll1el1Is \I'CI'(' lll'\{'l' ri,kl'd (0 11,ll'd,pl'l',,<:d
units. \\hirh I\'N(' 1'001linch ,,1)<mdOlll't:IIO tlwil Ellc. Thi... it"\ ill,i"ll'11CC Ihal
(,:ldl unit 'do Ill" dil" often foilt'd Fr(-'lldl (-ffon" 10 di\cn \ ;llh'JIIce". TIJi,
\1,1' in dirt."CI 1(1 the lnropl"1lI ::lllilUde: Fn'll{h units \\('1(' 33
34

"

.....
-.


. !.
Frene!l and Vietnamese paras of
6e ope force-marching from 'no Le
to the Slack River, October 1952;
by this date 6e BPe had two
Vietnamese companies out 01 lour
(6e & 268 CIP)- see c:ommenlary
Plate El. During their desperate
fighting retreat through the hills
the unit covered 40 miles In under
two days, but suffered 60%
casuailies. The Viet Minh lef1lhe
6e BPe, wounded to die where
they lay, 01 exposure. thirst, and
the attentions 0' ants, ralS and
carrion birds; and ollhe 110
prisoners taken from the field
after this action only four survived
to be repatriated In 1954. In
fairnen It should be added that
Fren<:h and ANV treatment of Viel
Minh prisoners and suspeets was
often harsh. (SPI)
nil lip in
.llllbll:-h... laid :11u!lg rht,
rt,\\ aud prcdiclabk 1"0:I<k
.... 1)1' ill
, jungle 1\ hilt.: Irying"
10 in peril.
\"iel illiellig-elice
ncarh l'xcdknl.
Thl' Frenrh ....d local
in lIIall\' Glpaci-
tic,," and lhL'ir Ihorough
Iw Ihe \"!'d l1Iade
c!;l\-to-da\ sc-crL'('\' inlpoll-
,,;hl(". ,\gL'llh reported am'
Frellch troop IIIV\"l'lllelll.s;
Opt'ralion" \\'t're
\\'ell in adv;lIlce
11'011\ the ;I"erllhh of
I"(·hicle... and malcrkl. EWll
if exaCI l\t're Ilot
Ihll;llh discO\·cl'L;d, airbornl'
"l'rl' ill ;\(klllCt' lhc ,\1 Il:moi (;i;l 1.1m,
I "\llni 1l,I("h 1:li ur S,ligOIl "':Ill SOil :\hlll of t h(' ('\"('I"SI relch('d U<ulspon
Ikl'l. ,\notht.'I' tht' prn"illg into "l'nkt, of, and
fOl"ln:uioll h\. (l\'ilian
TI1(: lrcalllll'lll ofFn:IKII \\'as ilion' hltell Illtl'rlyGlll')IIS
Illall .... ldbtit. SUllll' \\t.'fl' ,'\ell n'palriall'd:n 10 make a prop:lgamb
point - although Olltel.... 1\ ert" ex('ulled" for lIu,: lo.<llllt: WUlInded ,,'ere
1,.111 (,it I1('1' 0111 of h:llld "" Ih,'\ "'t're suipped of:ltl\ Ihing nSl-ful. or
"impl\' kfl lO dit: horribh ",ltl't'L' L111'\ 1<11, (Frel1ch rOITed to
,Ih,ltlc!<m t hdr IHUIlldcd hI 111\: or rarn'il1g stretchers
1;lr Ihrongh thl'jutl,l{lc j.f;1\l' t110lVllil1c
Thl'n: 1\'t'n'Clle a"j(,n.11 imJ;ll\l oflhe Fn'nch heing \Old LIl colleCt a few
III' Iheir \\'Olltllkd IrU111 pbn·", Tht:' re;I"l)[l \\';10;
lilt' "l'1'C sholl'il1g: ('lInl-jdelll clIollg:h to be
Ilwrdful - and 1\'11<'11 cullectioll tool.. place ()I\ (hL; hallldicld :1111id til('
1111111 Il'iecl FI Cill II de;ld, Ill(' clrcci Oil Illoralt- dcpressillg,
[[ '1ral\..il1,1{ I\()llll(kd' \l'er(' takcll from lilt, rield tI_u;llly
dil'{l fl'Cllll Clllllpkie Ih:gkcl llf Illl'lr alld all a\'cmg(" uf .. I)lllit flOC'(
(If all CEFEO pri"()IICr" (lied dllrillg prultlllgcd Illal'('llCo; alld ill priSOl1
('all1p:- (gOlf of IWlsol111t'I). The \'\1 follO\\'ed a vigorous
prng"milltlll' 01 'hmil1-1\,I!ohillg:' IIwil 11\;111\ c1l']J('ndilig
011 hi_ l-O"Opl't"lioll: of cxdlallg"cd ;t\ SlIllllIH:'r I!J."'l4
nxailiho'l' of
CHRONOLOGY OF MAJOR OPERATIONS
1947
Oct \."11" \"allll\ blll1('hcd Op:l.l'a" tl1l' \'il,t ICII hy
rO:ld fl'Olil Lltl!;' SOli, 10111' hI lil(''', :lIld 1"0 droppl·d Oll 1\:,,' 1\;\11.
(;iap \\,:h lI11prl'p:m'd luI' airl}()l"l\(' :1I1:1('1... :lI1d tl1l' 1';\1,1" ollh
C;lpltll'illg: HI) Chi 1\II111w qllid.. h rl..·woupI..'d: th,,-,
COIlUIlII \.71,> hddllp 1)\ .lIllhu..ht..... : IIw I"i\l'!' pru,,,-,d I,..... IM,ilf.lhk
lh.1Il h..:lit'\l·rl. ;1I1t1 lilt' ;1I11phihioll'> Iroop'> h.,d 10 marlh hl1ll11'r !l\I..·r1.ll1d
man pl:ullI('d. 'nlc Fn.'lIlh illllicu.'d much Ih('\ "lIncn·d.
but Ihc I di ..ellgag{'(\ "lIc('I·..sflllh - :1,> Ih," .\otlld -.0 ollen ill till' hllllre.
No,' Op:<:einltlre' allClllpl("d 10 Irap "olltll\\,II"(\.. in arC:J
bet\l"("n nll("1\ Quang:. ,'il·lIi. '1l1ai .lllel Cho Chu (I 8: III IeI'
Rel
l
, kr Choc. DB£\5, 8: (io ifnI. I REI); thl" Fn'lllh d.lilm:d
J...illed, 1":lptllfL·t1. fill' 108 Frendl dead .Inrl '1.,7 \,ollmkd. Th....
StICCt::S.. \\';1" tile r(lllt I II'lit'> hetlll't'll 111..' Rt::l! allli BI"d.
Ri\'('I's hv 1\\'0 Frelll h·lL·( I Thai /l//illfflJ[wml b:llt.llion,>.
1948
\'.11111' \\.1" repl.lced b. I\laizot. ;';0 m.tior olf..·ltsi ,,,.. ,'... IallllCh....d b,
rithn sick'. GIII'nill:l prL·.... llfL· cOluinll('eI 10 g:ru\\: Ih ":'II ..
their Ct)llllllltnif;lliun.. , .1lIe1 ('t'nll';ll cumrul of Rl:gion;tl
uniI.'>, ,md buill up 1111' RI'Kub......
July SlIt·cI..,..flll clt-fl"nce uf Phil Tong- 1\0<1 IlO'l 011 RC.3, TunJ...ill
1.1t, cO'>, of I 3t' REI alof<lin'lt tllllhuaill dt'tt'1111illl.. 'i1 ,macJ....
1949
pt CU·])('·lllit'r "("placed U1ai/OI, ddc}f<lling .. ill limkill to
c 10GIII, expCl'ielln.'11 (.ell, ,\Ie.. .. \It· .... ,llldri COIl('(·IlII".llt'd 011
H't'p:' till" Ddld. 10 'l(lltTLe lillI's. Tltl' C1l1le I.lIc'"
fooel Sillt:llioll lx:cal11t:: '>0 'l'l"iOlh thai Gi:lp I'H'1l fllll,irkn't!.1 (pO('llliall"
db.1.. IIOIIS) 111;ljnr 'lfT'·II,i, (' ,1g<linsl 111(' Ddt.• 10 lin Ille IItreat Ilf lalllill t',
Oct COrll1llllllisl "klO" in Chin;. l11arked Ih.· Illrnil1!-'-lxlill' Ill' 1Ill" \I,ll: B.
e "lifl 01 1!''''9 Giapclluld IX"l,rin 10 (kpt'ml on "Ilpplies from China. ,,'hich
d t :llId eqtliplK'eI Ihe fir.. t Oll{....llld-a·h.llf' ')1 Rt'Rlltlr di,i.. ioll:>,
"1111.' ":'III)l..'gall Ill .. , -.c.lIl .... lwl Frt'mh 1)():o,1... in tIl{' fmmit"r R1:.riOIl,
hcre I1Md mO'Cllll'lI1.'> \1,,'1"(' .llrc:,,1I llllfkr COI1 .. t.llll att;l('J....
1950
pi Frcncll pbn.. 10 \lithdr.1\\ from <::10 ,mel 0111(',' i..ol.ll....d 1>0'>1.'>
allg RC.... lIerc fOl"(' .. I.tlled (!lith) "ltt'li Ciap tln'CI' fhe h:Jll,tliOlh wilh
ilk"...'g-ain,>t Dong- Khl': Ihi.. fell (IRllt) .11lt'rd"'''lx'ntte I"I'.. i"I.IIICt,I)\ two
of II :k REI. I.t.(:ol. I.e I'ag-c Illu\'t't\ lip Inllll I.ang Still 10 I'h"l Khe
;jtll :-CIUO nlt·1t (1""1 & 111'1 T:'II. It·r H.. , RT:'II. al\(I leI"
8EI').
Del Old........ ·eI til n'l.tk", DUll/{ Kll .... (hi). I.., I':IR...... .. hlodt·(\
ilrOllA' ":'II rorc6; I.I.Col.Chal'ton .lban(\ul1cd Cao Ban", (:\rd) .lIld
m,m:III'd ttl m....el hilll (I ..j()() men - III :k REI. 3c: '1':'11. im j.{IIJ.II... ). Botll
\lere repe,II{'(lh hltKkt"d ,II,eI .lIllhll.. ll('cl. 1.IJ...ing 1,1..' , ...I'>II.lllie:..
TIll'" \\t're forced 10 k.I\I· RCA for I171Cl... Ihe \\oo<!t:d hill .. 10 tilt'
"'(',I. Idl("re 1)CI\\t't'll I:l .md 30 '":'II b.IIl.III(lII.. h.lrriecllhl'lIl ,limo.. t to
Ix)[h comll1.111cl.. h:Jd It'I1;1)h J't'tlllcc<! l:x'hll
t
' Ih...., linkt'Cl
blC' 011 the 71h. 11,111 01 :k BCCI>jlllllp(.'(1 inlO Thai Kilt' lu hold it aI-rain.;;t
tht::ir i1l'1i...ll (Slh). 1..1..' :lIld Ch.ml'll1 di"lx'lx,<1 thei.' .. m\j\tw,\ ill "mall
panic.. 10 tl'\ lu inliltl';llt' h;I(J.. 10 Thai "h..... SoIlW :UlH l""a,h"cllllt' pO"1
(9Ih); C:lpt...J(";[ltl'ien(' 1.,11 in ..'9 "lIl'\i\lIl'" 01 Itol !\EI' (10th); .mel 1.ller Ihal
CI.I) '1'11,11 "he was ahandorwel, Th.... p.U;l." 01 :11' I\CCP \I('rt: wipcd Ullt during:
rC(lrg-ll:lHl al lion.. (I nih-14th). Of ,onw li,OOO t .. , were li .. t.·r!
Sketch 01. veleran Frenc:h patrol
... In the Delta during the
rainy ..ason. {Courlesy Howard
R, Simpson'
35
3.
ABOVE A concrete blocktloYse
In the De Latlre Line. In 1951
the new C·ln·C ordered the
construction 01 (eventually) some
900 01 these In a tight belt around
the ed9n 01 the Red River Delta.
Sb:e and design vatied, but all
WeN supposed to be prool
against mtH1af' and RCL fire 101"
long enough to sum..-. help;
__W_ fitted MttI obsolete
tank turrets. The Delta defences
woukl soon tie down some 82,000
mostty non-Ewopean.
(Courtesy Wayne BrabyJ
(k'ad or mi"ing, L"lng Son W;L" ah3.mlulIed ill panic
(1 itb-lfl:lh). ib lat (' ,Iorcs ill(3.CI.
1951
Jan (,i,lp llIUtlllled a a"alill (13Ih) b\
& :H2 Dh.... 011 the Ddt:l (\l·f(·nct.... ;u \'inh \t'll:
the re<luired IWO milliolll>oncr·d,l", Initial
'human 1"l\C' alt3Cls \\crt: .. ucc(',:,Jul. bUI \,ere
t.hcd,t.'ll \lhl'lI Dc Ltttrc tool.. 1X'I'tlllal Ct)lllnmnd.
Quicl..h rcinforccmCIIlS I, 2.
he 1I11Ica.. ht:d COI1'{.llll.liratt;\ck. including
lhe of napalm. Giap'.. GI.. h' Ihe 17th
\Iert.' 6,OOU 10 9.000 killed.:l()() ... amlll('arh
6,000 wounded.
March \';\1 :Illac!..s lIt:rt· lalllldwil around
:'I1,ln "11f" 1)\ :\08, s: :\lti Oil .... thrc:llcning
Ilaipilotig port, Ana blitof hlll liglltlllg Ih(:,,(' \1'('1"(' r('ptll..ecl, :'Ilau
1\.11(' il.'>t'1fhdllg held by S('llcg-ak',,(' 8:'1IT5). Tho p:lni,alls amI RIC;\I
anllOllrcd C:lrs, rdic\cd lie npe and DNA I. with glllllirc support from
UII the Da l\ach Ri\'t.'I',
May-June While 312 Dil', rn;l11ocuITl'd north ot lltt.' Della Giap "l'lll ill a
third ",,;mll ,I\IU" lhe n,l\ Rill'r north rtnd ,olllh of Oinh -
ricc1{ro\l'ing coullIn \1 hich lht.' Ilecded. i nh.. hilt.'d I" imlt'pt'lukm
Cltholic.. \\ hom lilt" 1"i"IK-<! to dominate. £M('lllialh di\l'I')ionan ;ut<tcl..s.
in hea" 1lI0tl:'ooli l:lin, \Iere lllOtlllH.'l1 h, 30-1 Oi\. Phil '" ;ltId WS
Oil. tow;mb I\illh: til{" maill thn!:>l was m320 DiI, to\':lrcls I'hat Diem
- ol1e rgt. had infiltl"ated to\,;II"{I.. Th;li Binh to CO-OPClOill' lIith local
Iml.Rgl. 42 ill att:lcl..illg tht' r,'t'nch rca I'. 30-1 & 308 Oi"o;. 3chit.'\erl initial
"uccc<;s, and on :W :t:tO Di\. cl·o'.. ed the D,l\, Ot.' I..:lure f1uicl..h
,'''l'lIlblcd thret· Grotlpn four arlillt'n group... an armoured
I-troul} :lnd the 1)''Iras of7(' Iwe11le \ lII..dc onh .. 10\1 progrt.... ' aeros.., lilt.·
padfl\lidds. decilll:ttt.'(IIl\ Frt.·llcll airn'lft anrl al1il1cl'. and Cllholic militia
proved a match for the 1"0 reWmcnt5; behind French lim',: Din:t:>... CUI
<.;iap', lint's aeros" the D:I\, :md h\ bJUIiC the French had the initi:ltiw.
-
--'::::::;'."
- .. -::, . - -
. ;...... .. "-" --}- .,"
Op.'Soauterelle'" Aonam. August
1e52: M3 hillttrac:k and FONOgn
Uglon Infantry, from eitheI' IV5e
REI or llV,3e DelE senring with
Groupe Mobile 7, pholognlphed
during this relatl"ely succ.,,'ul
_eep of the enemy-Infested
coastal flats .Iong Re.1 - nlck-
'the joylus road' - near
o....ng TIi. This, with Op.'Calman'
-.by the following month.,
cleImed some 2.800 VM kilktd or
gptured. Th4I VM dominated
much of tIM 'Waist' of Annam
throughout the war, threatening
freneh communications between
tt1e north and 'OUlh. (ECPA)
LEFT French Infantry take COlIer
behind a dyke In the paddyfWcts:
thls pk:ture wn taken noes' Phat
Diem during an in
December 11153. but It Is charae·
teristic of the righting in Ihe rte..
growlng Iowtands throughout
11147-54. Despite Ihe best etforts
of successive French comman-
ders large VM units (e.g.
Independent Reg.ASJt$.42, 46 &
SO, and Infiltrating units of 320
OlY.J remained IK:tiYe wtthln the
Red RiV1If o.tta much
01 the war. (SPtl
(
Ikll\('l'lI 10 and lHJtlIll' Gi.lp \\" .. I()ru'd III \\illl-
d''';II\ .•11 a CC-"l of9.000 (k':ul ;lllci 1,000 l;lplllft'(1.
Sept-Oct Clap 1ll00ed Rgtd·11 So: 209, :H2 I)i\.,
il,lf-lilhl LtI, lilt: 1ll,Iiu PO,I iu 1111.: Thai hil"
IWII\l'I'11 Ihl' Ikd :l11d Bl.ld, Ri\Cl'S - hi,
slOIlt; 1'01' Laus, Till' \';t'lIl:tlllnc
hdd Olll ullIil I'l';lllol"ecd 1)\ i\(' Iwe Oct); \\'h('II
21.' I\EI' was :11'0 dropped H OCI) Ih('\ moullh'd
aggn....,il·(' <;Ql1k.... \\ilh air <;lIppol1. Thi, V;l Ion hrl'd
Ih{' dangcrolh illu<;ioll Ihal if isolall'd g:IlTi"OII'!>
cOllld hold oIT inilial as"';lIliD lin.. '\ COllld :IIW::I\' Ix.-
I'l'iul'i'rn.'fl hI p.mliroop': ,md Ihat lhl.'
1"uIII<l 11111 pn:ss hOIlU' a",lIlh, ill Ihl' (;U:l' of
111.':11)' fil'q}<!\\'('I'.
No\' I)l' I..:llll'(' lllUH'<I 10 I'I:capHlI'(' 111I;I nillll,
Glpital of Illl' 10\.11 luong Irihl" .lIul ,Ill impon;\lll
ro"djllllclion 2:-, milf.... ..fllw Ddla. ,\n initLlI ainlrnp h\ IeI' nEI'
(OI):Tlllip', 1.-, :'\0\) :.ciz('d til(' tOWII w;thOIlI diniClllh: "ill. pll,hl'd
almlgo RC610 linL. tIP' \lhik li\l.'nnl' Illlil"lrnlll \ jetli (orC\:d tl1l' IllOp oflhe
Ri\·('I". Coiap rC('hl'd COllfrQlll,uioll, h.I'L. inlo Ihejungk hill,
.1Il<l pfl-p:lriUj{ for ,I hauk nt ,1ltr;linn aloll,\.( bOlh 1.111d ,\l1l1 riH'1
Ii Ilk,..
Dec Fr('IKh PO'I!o along till' Bl:tI L. Ri\'l'1' - '\1' na :'\Olfl' ]),II11I' Roc 1..,
Til \'11 - h(':l\'ih :t1l:1l:L.I'd h\ :11 Di\.
1952
Jan Gt'll. Sal.l1\ l('p!:tCl"rI 11ll' (hing Ill' Laltre..1' Cbp li,;::hll'Ilt.'fl Ih\'
'1I';.l1Igkholrl uf :\0.1. :ms &: Illc,lIl\\hill' 01 :116 &:
inlilt r:ll('rllhe Ddld li·Olll lIonh :ll1d 10 rli,nlpl Fn.'lIch 1'1';\1 Thl'
b'l Black Ri\,(']' (nll\'O\ 1Il1'llcd hacl.. WillI h(';l\,\ Oil Ihl' :ll1d the
"'("'I bank :Ibamlunl.'d. nOI' fell 011 ReG, o.:.g. pu'l:-
at X0111 Plwo, ,,"em, XlI:ln .\I,li. Fill' h:tllalion' \\l'U' ,ull'ulImk'fl ,II Ihc cnd
ofa 11.111'0\\ cOllidnr hdcl- \\;th b'n:,;u difficult\ -1)\ ;11I0Ih('I' 1'0111: ,\ m'!.'ol
plhh III rt:-OIX'1I .mel dear till' flxld 1001. I b;Itt,llioll' I,'ilh hlo;l\'\ ;millcl'\
,mrl ail' :.UPI)()11 I full rla\.... ( J-III), Sal.m orck'rl'(l \Iithrlmwal.
Feb IIIl;b hacL. e101,n RC.G to th(' I)('ha ill\ol\cd ,I ('o<;lh
nlllllillg halllc, Fdll'u:u:. Thi, (;UlIp,rigll ';1\1 illClo.:'lsingll
ill(;lIlln welle:., dTl'([in.: of dl'\(','11 ('fHu:('all'd
rtnilkn, and 01 ,\.-\ art;llcl'\.
Oct Ciap Illnq of :10R, :H2 &: Dh..... 'fllllh-\,e,t illiu Ihl' TIJ.li
Ilighiallfl!o to\\,lIcl' L't(l', :'\ghia I.n quilL.h (foil: othl'r fdll).lcL.
to\\,11"(6 Ihe 1\I;llL. RiHc'r Iille, :mel tie I\PC \,ere droPllI.'rl;11 °111 It, 10 hm
tht'lll lime,:u grc;1I co'\. Olher i,ol;llt'1:! 1-,<;lITi'nll' I\ilhdrc\\ 011 :\":1
"herl' a fonifit'd c:uup I',b c'lablbhCf'!I)\ airlih,
No,' For oncc Giap llndcrntilllalerl Fn'llch \, hCIl :\f)i'\ I)i\. bCl$lll
Ill(' 011 :\"a Sail il \':lS (;lcccll" :k BPC. ieI'.'\.: 2" BEl', III :k
s.: III j(' REI. 1\10 Tirailkur alld 1110 \'il'llIilllIC:'C hallaliom, ,Irtilkn,
I,ircd in I)('hillcl mille", 'll"Ong-!lIlilll' ch:mg-cd hand, in
hl'.•\\ ligilling until 2 Ike. (;i,lp nen'r lonL.('(lliL.t, O\·t'l1.ullliIlK Ihl' (rtmp,
alld 'Ufferl'1:l "\l'II.-·I:lllhou!<.lIld casllahic, in IIIl' :1II1'IIlPI. (TIlt' "..
,!, ....:ldu.llh redulcd.lill.lll\ \';llulra"ing ill .\ug 19:1:\.)
1ll01llllt'd Op:Lormine',:l1l ;lIJ1hiliOll' Ihn1'l h\ :-\(I,1I0(J 111('1\ lip 37
38
RC.2 into till' ,'kt Hac to ckslrll\ and lure Rt:g'lllar dh bad
from tht: Thai Highl<lIlds, Ht: cOlllmitted fOil I' Croupes :\lobiles, two
SoUS-GrUlllleIllC11lS and a Oil lilt' Ckar Riwr: ami 2.3.JO
paratrooper..; C\c BI'C. ler & 2... BEP) jUlllped OWl' Phil Ooan
(9 Bllt Gbp - confident thaI Frcnch ('ollid nOl long' '1I1Q:.1in
IOO-milt: Ihnls! up a narrow corridor - rl'!'l1'1('d In f."l1l ])nd, fmm t1w
L1Qtian horde.., 1\\'1l Rq.,rular regilllents "nd Rt:gional 11IIib to
harass 'l.orr;:linc'. Tht.: Frcl1ch dt'strO\'cd Ions of 1111tnitions, 1.500
weapons al1f\ SCV('",1 1 hltl l;,ilcd to reach thc 111;tior CkpOL', alld cvell
lhis loss only 'c;:Ipita!' - Ciap's flow of 'n.:\'CtltH:' 1'1'0111 China wuuld soon
replace it. -Ilw Frend, took hard lighting: a m;tior ambush b}
Rgt.36al Challl\luungpass (Ii :'\ov) LOSI I &4 (It\ll. [[ 2<:
REI. .It: B:\1j7e RTr\. RJC:\I

1953
April Giap had kcpt 308, 12
S: 316 Di\'s. in lite Thai
Highlands since ther had
(lll!rtlll their l'llpplies lhe
prc\"iutlS Nu\'cmber. He ItO\\'
ill\'aded I.aos: forc(:d to usc.;
their air flel't.
the French establisht:d large
fortified CCllt res all lhe Plain
of Jars and al I.ll:tng Pra-
hang. I-laving rehearsed his
ann>, ill brgt' 1110bilc
\\';,rfare. Ciap \,'ithdrt'\" all
bllt ;l swall force, keeping
his oplions opcn.
BELOW French and Vietnamese
paras, 01 Be BPC, I'(!lax
a distance sign In the Lang
Son al'(!a during Op.'Hlrondelte',
the major attack on VM depots In
JUly 1953, (SPI'
June (;en. Saktn I,;L' r('pl.ln'(l ,b (;..ill.(. 1)\
July Op:lliruruldlC'·. ,I lIl.tim drop mt'l' <lI'I)()(' aruuml -'011.
irnohc<l (II Ik' s,. HI..' IWC. REI'. 11,1'
<I('..ln)\("<I: flt"'pirl';\ ('11":111\ I't·'I>lIIt.....· 111l' \\'ilhdn'\' '1Ien·"llllh.
l11art Itillg- :-10 mik, 10 linl. lip \,illt (::'11:-, lip j{( .. ·lln)111 "Iit'll 'i.'II.
011 major lOllI" \\\'rt: rUlilIllilt('11 ttl Op.·(::llllarg-ll(·· 011 the
.\1111.11tt II) dear a 'lr":lcli 01 f.l.C,1 - '(11 11/('
\l1//1)f"I"- til thl' dll,i\(' \':'11 Rg!. !I."l. lOll/{ HIII«',lkcl ill ,I clt.tin Of\ilbg('"
.. tllTOIltlded I" tll{(IOII' :ulc1 .... 1l1d (\11I1(.... 1,I1ICI :IIld 1\'0 1,1'1..
(Ol't(-"" incllllk,t! It'll h'I'. Ilfinf:tntn (:-':;1\,11 :-':111111
G"lIIlli(·N. \:-':\. .lInl t\\o of ,Iil·..<lropp(:d
(II II'r RCI>. BP\":-':): thr('I' hUIIl 1("
RtC, ,lIld Ix' I: .tntl ..tl"lmg ,lIlilll·n. :Iil. ,I lid HUll fir..:
:'IIt"t o( Kg-I. 9:, 111,1I1:tg""d 10 di,IW1....(' ,llld ("(";1111'.
SCPI-OCI TIlt' thr("(·.plt.I'I' Op.'Broi Ill'" '1'111 IX hit,. (illll.l(·1' BEl'. li'l
JI,' UP\'>.. II 8.: III lett, D"LL f.l.lL.\I) ;lIId n:-.:.\:\. Is.: 12 ill ,I major
"\'·I·I·P .1J.f-lill'" \:'11 s.: :-MJ ill 1111' 1\..IIIIhl)(" (:'Illal .....:nUI 111111(' nonlwnl
Ikh,l. DI..'Spiit' .... 11II(· 'Ill II......' Ih(' \"\1 (ominllt"(1 to domin,lIt' pl:rlt,lp:, ."I.I)()I)
nt!lh' 7.1)()lhill.II.("''"' ill,idl' tlte 1.)(:11;1.
OCI-No,' ()II.·:'IIIIll(·tt(··. Ili\. i'll IIIL' 'Imlh..:rn 0"'11., c!ekl1t.e'.
OtlllpiC'c1 .....·\I·I' (::'Ih. llllit:.il1tl.1 :-lI'KI:I.1 &11 l:kDBI.L,11
IWe, RIC:'II. n:-':.\:I 8.:
NO\'-Dcc Op.'CI'tor·: II it'r R(.I'. ("1. ti<· So: HI' BPe. leI' 5.... I\I'\':'\
jllltl!Wt! bun nit-II l\iell Phil 1;111('\ light 1t',i'lanu' (20-2:\ :-':m ).
II It'r R(J>. I," .-:: til:.' 1\1't. \,el t' It (II DI·(). 10110\'('<1 1)\ x 1\1'\;'"
(2.\1,111): 11..'1" IU..!' &: Ro;' ('110( !t·lltaill(·d \\hik ,I llt,t"i\«: ,tirlift i'N,.lk·d Ihi'
rc.....'oflhelfollli,olt:1 tt'&111 :kRt.l,1 l:k DI\I"L & Illrce 1j,1{iUlI
1II11r1,lr cV'.: 2L' 1\:'11 It" R"I:\.:k 1\\1 :k K"C\. :-1(' li:'ll /1' RI.\: IeI' Ie
lEFT Often c:.aptioned as !)fen Bien
Phu., this photo In fact shows a
counter-atuck by French pantS
dl.uing It.- suceessful delence 01
It.- airhead at Na san In the Thai
Highlands, November/Oe<:ember
1952. (ECPAI
Op.'Castor', November 1953: ler
BEP jump Into Dien Bien Phu. The
French believed that sinee any
VM artillety emplaced on the
_ slopes of the SUI'TOUl'ldlng
hlIls would be out of range of
the entrenc:hed c:amp, al'ld the
forward slopes eould be
dominated by French gurt$ and
alreran, the valley bottom position
was not as dangerous as It
appeared. In faet the engineers
and gunners of 351 Div. proved
lethally briUlant at digging,
coneealing and serving gunpits
on the forward slopes; when this
becMne elear In 1954
the camp's artitlery eomrnandet"
eommitted sulelde. (SIHLE)
-
.-
39
2c $... 3e IH: 24 xl05nll11 gtlllS of II & III! 10e RAe. &
..Jll.1:>31ll1l1 of Ill' 1\" -Ie RAe: lell :\12-I1<1IIk. frOIH Ie.. RCC.
Earh illlo the 'urroundillg hilh mel
strong rt""j .. tance: the beg:!1l de.. uhon ,,11t'lIing nn ",
IX-ccmlx'r; ancl French IllOH'nWIlI t.... en in<;ide lht, h':IS
'-0011 gre:llh cOllfined.
Ikt\H.'cll :-:0\ 19j3 and 195-1 Cial) 1ll00ed WIllC
-19.500 men of :\0-1, 308. 312, 316 8.: 351 Di\', 10 the hilh sur-
rouncling" Dien Bk'il Phil, The\, and scores of tholl;;:;l11d5 of
coolit'" ahu .11 lea:.t 200 J( 751111ll & 10:1111111 gWIs
pl1l5 1l1am hea", :Iml KeLs. and pertlap!> J( :nllllll
...\A g"lHb, Thcst.: wcrc installed :md camouflaged
thaI lh('\ prm'cd almost imllllll1e 10 air and ;u·tillel) :ut:lek.
\':\,[ quantities of ammunition :md oth('"
(";:Inicd ill. Th(' Frt'nch \Icrt' well infonut'd hugc oper-
ation, bill \\t're IIl1ablt' to halt it dC"pill' a m:yor air <'ITort.
40
IXen Bien Pnu, December 1DS3:
during the c:onsolkiation phase
Howard Simpson (left), • US
.."bassylntonnation ol'flcer and
later II distinguished writer on
Vletn;lm, lunche$ with NCO. of
Blgeal'd's fie OPe. Hou$H and
trees would lat.... be c1ea..-d lor
building materials; eyen so. lew 01
the camp's dug·outs would be
proof against 105mm .hells - 10
"'I In enough engineer stores
would have taken rnoI'e airlift
c:apa<:ity than was 8111111able In the
whole c:ountry. Note the 6e BPe's
eamounage o;ap, named after
Bigeard. which begme general
Is_ to in Algeria as the
'M1959'.ICouI1"y Howard R.
Simpsoni
CASUALTIES
One estimate slaIn IMl the war
Ilad 00Sl2O.685 Frww:hmrI, 11.620
l6gooilWes. 15.229
7.540 West AfrieaI'l and 26.686
Indochinese troops killed or
unaccounted lor; totals tor
wounded were abWt Itvee tJme$
higher. Of 36.91'9 01' the
Expeditionaty Fore4I bled as
nuuirlg or captured, lOme -4,700
10.754
alier the ceasefire.
1954
Jan-March A -.cri(... Ill'Opt:raticllb t(xlt'II,llnt"(.1 '. \tl:ultt" in Annallltied dO\m
2:) bib.. three anillcl"\ f.;roups. 1\,'0 annolll"efl >,(Ilb., :"01\,11 CdU!>.. :Illd
,\;\"\' 1I11il!>. RC"ulb \It'rt' rl.......·n·I.-... \\'erc lhcrcaher
llonh, It';l\ing 100 ;lIul .\:"\' Ilnil" to holdllw C.ellll'll l-liglll.ll1ds alollt'.
Jan-J Illy 1l:ld. ami fiJrlh II) Ill"'t'l orch",,,u-;IIt-'fllhrt'at:. 10 Pkiku.
"onlll111, :\11 Khc :Ind D,II.. Doa. C\I 100 \I,b g-round dOlll1 ill :1 :.... rit's of
raIOlstl'(lpllic I>:!niclllar!\· b\ Illek-pcndellt Rq;ulal' &
10K it lI11alh I\'iped \lllt ontl clays h... li.)I·(" the ceasclin:.
13 March For thl' lil">llilll... Di... 11 Uit'll Phil \1;lS m:lssi\ch humharded. \1·iLh
inc1l1dillf.; COrllm:llldcrs. ami great d;llllagt' to
!1I'ou,t'lcd Th.1l lIight the Ilonh-c"'1 qrongpoilll ·lk.uI'ice'
(III l.;k' DBLE) \I"';IS 0,,"-,11'1111; lhe next night. Ihe nonlll'm slrungpoillt
'Cahrielle' pc B:'-I 71.-' R'"[\), From 110\\ un :millen and A\..-\ collld be
hrought ('\1.-'1' c!tfil'r to the ail'trip .md tlu' ("('Illml camp. ;lIld I .;;tppillg
cuuld IX'gin 10 'lI,lIlgll' indi\idllal perimeter l>lrollgpoinls.
IXlI,lClulling of rclllforcclllenb (5c BP\':-:. I-Ith: lie BPC. IGth) ('ould nOI
I..t'(·p lll) I,·ilh '!lIe la!>1 C-I7 lll:tllag(:d 10 take ofT01127 :'-lardl: tlU'l"(.'"
:lftcr all 1lIt'1l and malt'rid had 10 Iw p,lI,trhlllcd, ill to a
p('rinl\'I(·r. lInder fiC·ITI.-' .'v\ lirc. '!llt' 1ll01N}01l millS hcgan 011 :'-larch.
April attarl..s 011 111(' dIal hill 'Elialll" 8..-
·Donliniqll... · (:10 "[;lITh-li Aplil) \'·... re on1r panl)' rcpuls('d. I\'ilh grt'alloss
10 bOlh Th... IClllpO "tri...d liming the mOllth: the pall('l"l\
I,:" IlI'an bomhardnwtll 11\ da\. and lllass assaults after dark frOIll
('\"('r-tighlcning" rings of appro."lcll St rotlglXlilltS I,·crc Illsl. n·lal..cn.
ellt 011'. amllrn.t ag:till: lliuligh thC\ fought hcmicalh. Ihe effecti\'c illf:llun
- FI"CllCh and \·il'tn.III1L........ par.b, ki:,rionllairc'. and SOllie North AfriGllIS -
d\lindk'fl ill> GLSU:lltil"l 1lI0Ulll('d ami t'shaustion \\·orscned. and
1;I("ti"ll aircraft 10S!>t-.. IU. \. \. \ 1x.'GlIne :lllllllllniliOIl, food, and
:111 otl1('1" rom short. II lei' RCP & 21..' nEI' p:II,LClllIlt'f!
in (J 8... 9th-I Olh). bill could ollh deb\ lil(' illL'\ilab1c.
May Part uf IeI' B1'C Il:tmchuted The filial \ .", ass;ltllb hrol..e
IhrouRh (Glb-7Ih): ami till 7 :\la\' til(' GlIllp !>llI1"t'\I{k-rt·cl. Apan rl'Olll thc
1110'1 , ... I,olllldni. the t'lIlirc StIlYi\'illg" ganison weill illlo
\llIel'l' lIlo!>t 'lightl\" \\'Olmded dit'd willlill fUlll'
THE PLATES
NOTE:
These plates owe much 10 research published in the
outstanding French magazines Militaria and Homme de Guerre,
published by HlstOire & Collections of 5 rue de la Aepublique.
75011 Paris. France - see select bibliography on page 47.
'Composite' figures combtne features from more than one
photo of men of the same I.JI'lII Of type. to give the most YtSUaI
The Bntish term 'kl\akl drill' IS used here for all
sand-eoloured lightweight clothing Including US 'khakI' or
'suntan' and French kaki daIre. 'Green drab' here means the
olive of French Ml947 fatigues - trellils de combat; ',ungle
green' means BntJsh Convnonweatth tropICal issue in a bluer
green. We use me form e.g. Ml947 for all national pattern dales.
Before c.1949 the CEFEO wore a wide range of British.
Commoowealth. US and French fatigue clothing and persona)
equipment, Issued as available. many different patterns bell19
seen side by SIde. All ranks made free use of Iocallailors. and
persooaI preferences Wel"e tolerated. From c.1949J50 French
green drab Ml947 fatlQUeS gradually replaced foregn items.
:hough some were stil to be seen WI 1954. The French Ml949
cotton bushhal and US Ml steel helmet were the most
COITWTlOIllield headgear; a range of colotxed 5Idecaps (CalaIS).
berets, and other 'tribal' headgear were wom by various units
when out of action,
British M1937 webbing was Widely used early on, as was
some pre-war French leather equipment; and US webbing
P'Nnained common throughout. The French "'1950 airborne
lI'OOps' (TAP) eQUlpfTleflt was slow to amve Il'I quanllly, but most
paras had received II by the end of 1952. In the eJd\austlng
Ornate backpacks (vanous US. BnllSh. and French M195O)
wenl often left at base Of on vehlcles. and when needed on the
march were often carried stung on bamboo poles by
""etnamese pnsooers (PIMs).
The MAS.36 and MAT,49 gradually became Ihe standard
small arms. though US .3Ocal carbines remained popular. Older
nfles and automatICS - lebels, Berthiers and MAS.38s, Bntl$l'l
SMLEs and NoAs. Brens and Slens. US M1903 Springfiek:fs
.-w;f P17s, BAAs and Thompsons - gradually passed to
Y'etnamese troops and 'tTBgulars. The FM.24129 was the
Slln:1atd sectlCll'lLMG ltYoughout the W31,
"1 sergent, 5e Regiment d'lnlanterie ColoniaIe: Saigon,
OCtober 1945 This returning unit was eqUiPped by the enlish
ceylon. Shin and battledress trousers are Indian-made, in
,..-.gle green dnn: so IS the troptC3l VetSlCll'\ of the 'cap General
Serw:e'. tetmed by the French the 'GurI<ha beret' (puI\ed nght
neAt, BntIsh styIel. All web eqU1J)l'Tlenl1S BntISh Ml937: photos
st'lOW No.4 nfIes and Slens. The oriy VlSibM insignia is an early
example of the French Ml9451ef! sleeve kvsson of branch
and IJ{\It, worn only by NCOs 11'1 the photo and probably bazaar-
made: the louled anchor 01 Colonial troops Is In gold. identJlYlOg
an NCO, and red double pipmg edges the top 01 the midnight
blue diamond.
A2 Adjutant, 1er Bataillon Parachutiste de Chee; Operation
'Lea', Bac Ken, October 1947 The ler BPC JUffiPed overVM
base camps at Bac Kan on 7 OCtober 1947. The 'M1949'
bushhat was seen well before that date (along WIth the BrrbSh
Wor1d War II brown lett eqUivalent), This US Army HBT
Oran, Algeria, February' 1946: men 01 the Regiment de Marehe
de ia l6gion Etrange.., Extreme Orient wall 10 ahlp out for
indOChina - the RMLElEO was I1ltltled 2e REi while In Iranslt.
Apart from the white-coyered kepi lind red·topped
grHfl legion ClIIIoI are dressed and equipped from BritIsh
s.urptus. Charles Miiassinl
mechanlc's overallS the S(H;a(led tturd panern: US web eQUIp-
mentIS worn. WIlh a BntISh MI944 canteen: there are no SMG
pouches - magazines are earned in the pockets. So is thiS
battalion's black beret. With a Silver badge In the shape of
France: other Metropolitan paras wore a dark blue beret at thiS
date. with the TAP winged fist and dagger badge. and would
adopt e lighter bleudufOI colour in May 1948. The boots are US
Arrrrt M 1943 'double-buckles'. The MAS.38 machine pIStol, too
light for battlefMlld work. was the ooIy French-made SMG then
available: Thompsons, Stens and some German MP.40s wt!fe
atso used. TtIlS warran! offICer wears no lnslQn13; a Colt
MI911A1 IS holstered on hiS I'!lp, over the popular US M3
fighting knife - many other types were also seen. otten cut
down Irom bayonets. On hIS belt are Frenel'! M1937 and US
World WSI II Issue fragmentation grenades.
A3 L.egionnaire, 3e Regiment Etranger d'infanterie;
northem Tonkin, 1948-49 A COmPOSIte from several photos
01 small posl gamsons. For most work and operations the
bushhat replaced the LeglOl1'S white-covered kept (here the
M1930). The khaki dOl shirt is worn WIth Bntrsh ,ungle green
baltledress trousers. and US weo fegqlnys r.Mlr boors.
The leather belt, braces and pouches are of World War I
vintage: a rolled ponchocarries enough kit for a local patrol: the
nfle IS the British No.4 Mk.L
B1 Tireilleur, 2e BataiUon de Marche/1er Regiment de
Tnilleors Algeriens; Phuc Yen, 1951 The ler RTA's second
'march battalion' landed In September 1949. They loug/1t at
Vtnh Yen and Nin Blnh II'l early 1951: at Cho Benh, on the Black
fWer, and RC.6 during the Hoa Bm campaJgn 1951-52: and
lnally on sU'Ol'lQPOll't 'Isabelle' at ()en BlBl'l Phu. The bustV\at
bears (unusuallylthe 1er RTA badge. its crescent enamelled red
lor lhe 2e BM, Ihls colour repealed In a cloth backing. The stan-
dard French Ml947 green drab fatigues With four-pocket jacket
are worn WIth British web anklets and French M1917 boots, US
webbing nfle beh. bfaces and canteen, and pre-lNorld War II
Fref'lCh buttoned-flap musette. He has no knapsack: hIS
necesSllles are earned in a sILII'lg Bntl$l'l Ml937 smaI pack and
a drab khaki tent sectICIl'\ rolled and slung. HIS nile IS the slM-
dard 7.5mm MAS.36: and he holds a captUred VIet MIOh flag. 41
( f,
, ~ . .
" "
-
·f
Schematic drawings
of French Ml947
green drab fatigues as
Illustrated In Plates
81, Cl. Fl: four-pocket
Jacket, two·poeket
'lightened' shlrt!iaeket,
and trousers.
(Drawings Christa
Hook)
~ I-
L-I. L--="====,=-========-=====--L_'I LJ
42
82 Light maChine-gunner, 11/3e Regiment de Tirailleurs
Marocains; De Lattre Line, 1953 The III3e RTM moved from
Cochinchina to Tonkin in January 1951, and fought at Vinh Yen.
It became a 'SectOf ballaHon' that May. holding posts on the
northem edge of the Delta until 1954. This sectIon LMG No.1
carries an FM.24/29 - all 1M all. probably the Infantry's best
weapon. In wet weather the US M1943 enlisted men's raincoat
was often issued to CEFEO and ANV troops. This Tirailleur has
arranged his cheche as a headscarl under his US h ~ m e l . HIS
trousers are tucked into shortened US web leggings or the
French M1951 equivalent. over M1917 boots. His Bntjsh belt
supports a Single universal pouch - often retained for SMG and
LMG magazines aiter other British webbing had been replaced
- With the sheathed FM cleaning rod: the FM gunner's
haversack IS worn slung.
B3 Mokadem, Goumiers Marocains; northern Tonkin,
winter 1949-50 This is a composite figure from severa! photos.
Against the winter mists this vetero.n sergeant - note gold rank
stripe bunoned to hiS chest- wears the traditional dje/laba over
M1947 fatigues with pafauga boots: the flat appearance of the
rolled turban is also characteristic 01 the Goumiers. Photos
~ - ~
-.
show them with US webbing. or old French leather three-pouch
bell and brace equipment. This NCO carnes magwnes for his
M1A1 Thompson in one of many locally made leather pouches
seen before the Issue 01 M1950 webbing. Pre-World War II
musettes and canteens were common among native troops.
C1 Caporal-chef, Inlanlerie Colonialej hot weather local
combat dress, 1950-54 'La Co/oma/e' provided the most
battalions of any branch. so we have given this composite
figure a hooked-on pocket rank and branch display with the
Colonial anchor. In fact thiS is the generic hot season French
Infantryman of a post garrison on local patrol, the combination
of bushhat, Ml947 t\\IO-pocket 'lightened'fatigue shirtljacket.
khaki drill shorts and minimal equipment being wholly tyPical.
This NCO has an M1 carbine With clip pouches. and a US com-
pass pouch.
C2 Commandant, Tabor Marocain; northern Tonkin,
1950-51 A composite from photos 01 Cdts. Delcros of lle and
saulay of He Tabors. That of saulay shows khaki drill shirt and
slacks, British web anklets. leather boots. and the calct 01 the
Goumiers (dark blue with light blue top lold) worn with a cheche
Sketch of a Moroccan Goumlet" In
northern Tonkin. From .Iune 1949 three
Tabors were usually seNtng there at any
one time, administratively brigaded as
the Groupement de Tabor.;; Maroc:alns
d'EItT6me Orient {GTMEO). Durin9 the
disaster on RCA the 1er Tabor {58e,
5ge & 80e Goums} and 11e Tabor (38,
5e & 8e Goums}lought with the Le Page
column. The 11e were finally overrun at
Na Kheo; survivors totalled five officers
(0114).20 NCOs (0150), and 344
Goumlers {of 860). See commentary
Plale 83; and note that the sleeve patch
was otllclallv worn on the left. (Courtesv
Howard R. Simpson)

wrapped around nead and neck. cap and shoulder straps bear
go6d lace majOI"S ranking - one plus tlvee. The lob badge. a
SIlver li.oumt3 dagger. was a general bfanch Insignia; few
ndMdual Tabof or Goum badges have beerlldentrlied. French
officers often camed thldI. bamboo walkll'lg sucks.
C3 Soldat, Regiment de Coree; south Vietnam, December
1953 The French UN baltahon in Korea disttnguished itself
under command of US 2nd Infantry DIvISIon, Transferred to
Vietnam in 1953. It was lr'\Creased to two battalions
by local recruitment. providing - wlth the battle-hardened
mixed-race BM/43e RIC - the motonsed Infantry of Groupe
Mobile 100. PholOS show that US clottung supplied In Korea
was replaced by French Issue. Ihough this off-duty soldier
wears a US T-shirt In1er hls two-pcdIet M1947 faugues; but
the battallorfs black beret and badge. yeIow and black 'Coree'
shoulder lrtle, and 2nd DIll. palch were aI re1atned. ThIs former
para wears the UN and French campaJgn nbbons fa Kofea.
01 Sous·fieutenant, 5e Regiment de Cuirassiers 'Royale
Pologne'; south Vietnam, 1950-54 AnMng., FebnJarY 19016.
this regriTlE!f1fs dispersed squadrons fought aD oyer southern
Indochma: IIV5e RC's Stuart tanks and halflracks fought With
GM 100 in the Central Highlands dUring that brigade's long
ordeal In sprrng 1954. this young second Ireutenant wears the
MY crews' habitual hot weather dress: khaki dnll shrrt. shorts,
and beret (usually unbadged, but here With one of several
known 5e RC vana\JOnSl, pataugas and rllII'"IImal eqUlpmefll. A
US Army belt supports Pistol clrp pouches and a holstered
Walther P.38. a popular Item of WOOd War II booty, He displays
the regment's enameled breast badge; I'Ils shoulder straP rri
lace IS ., cavalry
02 Sokiat. 10e Bataillon Parachutiste de Chasseurs a Pled;
Vinh Yen, January 1951 In Tonkrn S/flce 5eptember 1950. thrs
unrt recnJlted Muongs. Thars and Nungs into ilS 2nd Company.
At Vlnh Yen on 16 January 1951 It retook Hili 210 from 308 Dlv..
and held it against fierce counter-attacks. US Marine (usually)
and Army camouflage clothing of various types was wrdely
ISSued to paras from t95O: Ihls complete USMC second pat-
tern surt -the so-called 'Ralder' unrfOfTTl - IS worn With French
M1950 brown JUrT1P boots. HIS US helmet IS strapped to hrs US
M1943 camoullaged jungle pack: M webbng compnses US
pistol bet! and braces, modrlred Bntlsh M1937 umversal
pouches for I'Ils SMG dips. and BntlSh M19J4 waterbottle. The
excellent 9mm MATA9 SMG was now bec()lTllng standard, the
paras enjOyIng some pnonty of rssue. (In 1De BPCP
wore a black beret WIth the $lIver TAP badge.)
03 Soldat, 2e Balaillon de Parachulistes Coloniau.:;; Hoa
Binh, November 1951 While waiting for French-made lump
uniforms the CEfEO acqurred rn 1949-50 a locally made green
drab 1&'IUe de saut d'&/reme Onent. h seems mosIly 10 have
been kepi for use OUI of the line. though this para wears the
trousers. HIS smock IS from the French-made Ml947 tenue de
A8OY£ Freneh cay""'"
lieutenant-colonel and
Vietnamese w;.....nl office<'
wearing khaki drill, the
forme. with a
acquired bushhat In US
eamO\lnage material (as seen
In. number 01 photOS), the
latter with the khaki drill
beret wldety worn by vehicle
and AKV units. (ECPA)
RIGHT P.....troop eompan,
headqvarter$ during ... oper.
alion In the Dela, 1053; I'IOte
US SCR,300 and SCR.536
radios, M1A1 carbine, and
British windproof camOllllage
fatigues. See commentllry
Plate E2.
Detail of typical camouflage pattern printed on French jump
uniforms. The ground <;olour was drab khaki Or light green; the
primary pattern (dark tone) and secondary (mid-tone) were
green and brown or vice versa, and many variations were seen.
RIGHT Rea. view of ..ede de $/Jut eamoufle M1947/53.
Differing from the 152 only In mInor details, this model was
rarely soon In Indochina before the ceasafire; bul the poolO
allows a useful eomparison with the camouflage pattern
drawing. (Courtesy Wayne Braby)
saul /falll {once, which reached Indochina In early 1951: it had
two slanted fear skirt pock:ets, a 'beaver tail'. and a very
broad collar. Short of US M1Al paratrooper's helmets. the
French modified M1 hners with this cloth chin harness. The
M1A1 folding-stock carbine was preferred over the French
CR.39 rifle.
E1 Solda!, 6e Sataillon de Parachutistes ColoniauK; Tu Le,
October 1952 In 1950-S3 this combination 01 USMC and
British M1942 ('windproof') camouflage was the most
common para combat dress. This young Cambodian - to
judge by his dark complexion - proudly wears his red beret.
ordered into use by all Colonial and Metropolitan paras in
March 1951: his helmet is slung on his rucksack. The
M19S0 TAP webbing was stili seen miKed with US items-
here. French braces and doubled rifle pouches with US
pistol belt and canteen. The shortened. folding-butt
CR.39 version 01 the MAS.36 nile - Inaccurate and hard to
maintain - was still standard Issue lor paratroopers,
E2 Radio operator, 1l/1er Regiment de Chasseurs
Parachutistes; Operation 'Camargue', Annam, August 1953
The US SCR.300 manpack radio was standard Issue at com-
pany level. Vanous field headgear was worn by paras: some
units made bulk purchases. like this 'fisherman's hat' made
from US camouflage cloth lor IV1er RCP. The complete suit of
British M1942 camouflage was sometimes seen. modified or
unmodified. This belt order Includes the M19S0 TAP bel!.
44
EFtDJ
\
Schematic
drawings of
paratrooper's
green drab
M1947 tenue de
saul bid f0nc4.
of which Plate
03 wea,.., the
smock. (Drawings
Christa Hook)
• •
: I
. ~
~
Ml951 canteen. M1950 'commando'first aid pouch. and early
panern M1950 pistol ~ s t e f
E3 French NCO, ler Compagnie, 5e Balaillon Parachut-
iste Vietnamien; Olen Bien Phu, April 1954 On 18 Apol
capt. 8Izartlled stnrYOrSollsl Co.. 5e BPVN andolll2e REt
., a desperate breakout down the lIlrStnp from 'Huguelle 6",
USM"Ig mostly grenades as they leapt over the surroundtng \1M
trenches. Witnesses descnbed them weaflng pairS 01
part- led sandbags slung as imprcMSed splinter arn'lOIS. By
Iale 1953 most para unIts were recetvlng the new French
camouflaged jump uniforms (here lenue de saul M1947/52)
and M1950 TAP webbing; note the live-pocket pouch for
MATAS magazines. US camouflaged parachute material was
popular for scarves.
Fl Sergent porte-fanion, 1er Bataillon Muong; Tonkin,
spring 1952 RaISed by 6e RTM In March 1950. these tough
Montagnards !ought., ll.Col \lanuxem's GM 3: In March 1952
the.r defeat of two VM battalions at Bdl Du in the Delta
(Op.'Mercure1 brought a second Army CItatIon and the
frJumJgere Ifl !he cob..n of the Crout de Guene TOE. The IJM
fanKJfllllCludes l:xllh the anchor of the CoIoruaI troops 10 whtch
they were attached, and the Sllvef" op8f1 star ('Solomon's seal1
of the Moroccan Tlratlleurs who raised them - also worn on a
beret in the Muongs' green national colour, A photo shows thiS
sleeve ecusson: others, the use of British M1937 webbil\Q and
French weapons. The boots are convnerclal VerSIonS of Issue
pataugas.
F2 Nung irregular. Phung To, August 1953 CompoSIte from
photo of the maQUlS led by Sergent-chel Chalel of the GCMA
agamst VM Rgt. 88, 316 Ow. In the Ma River valley, Thai
Highlands. The cultUres and costumes of the dozens 01 'Mol'
(montagnafd) tribes of Thal. 5100-Tibetan. Austro-ASlatIC and
Malayo-PoIyneSIan language groups would fdl an entire book.
Their appearance in French service ranged from naked apart
from a lomcloth and a bamboo quiver for crossbow dans.
through traditional dress with daZZlingly colourful woven
decoration and massIve silver Jewellery, to standard French
fatigues. The Nungs wore black or white headdoths wrapped
in the Dyak style, and black crOSS'OVef" lackets with tape
blndlOQ and SIlver buttons sel lfl cord loops (the colours here
Schematic
drawings,
MI947152
tenue de aaul
camoutle illS
worn by Plate
E3. (Drawings
Christa Hook}
are guesswork), British SMLE rifles were olten ISSUed to
Irregulars: and for support fire, thiS French M1937 50mm
grenade launcher.
F3 Viet Minh guefTilia. Cochinchina, late 19405 Typical of
eMer a wei-armed Popular force mhaman, or a member of a
small, early Regional uOlt on a bnef local operation - the
dlstlnClJOn was notJOnaIln 1947-48. The peasant blouse i:ao
itO} and trouser'S lea quan) vaned '" smaI details - p1a1tl black
IS typICal of the south. 8S IS the checkered cloth LISed here as a
scarf: SlIver buttons were fa\lOl.ll'ed Itl the north, sometimes on
a cross-over blouse: and darit brown CIoThltlg was common in
the TonkIn Dena. His sandals are cut from old motor lyres; and
he carries a Japanese Type: 99 nfle.
G1 Officer, Viet Minh Independent Regular unit; Co-
chinchina, 1949-50 CompoSIte largely lrom photos of 'So DOl
303' - a ReglOl'lal battaloo raISed to Regular status lfl spong
1949 and based near Bmh My nOl1h of Tan Uyeno Led by
Nguyen Van Quang (appotnted to replace the brave but
UndiSCiplined Hoang Tho on whose guerrilla band It was
based), It had several dlS3ppOlflUrlg dashes thai ......,Ier WIth 2e
BMI3e AlA. Group photos show a nux of khaki drill. peasant
black, and other nondescflpt drab shades: long hooded
ralncapes: many French bushhats, several of these ciVilian
fedoras, some light drill cloth catofs, and the very occaSlOOal
US or Japanese helmet; and mixed French, Japanese and
Allied small arms - thiS olticer's status IS Immediately marked
by hIS revolver (French M1892 In Bntlsl'l holster) and MAS.38
machine pISTol. Note the typlCaI cloth 'sausage' holding hIS nee
I(lbOfl$ lorSeveraJ days.
G2 VIet Minh Regular, assault equipment. Tonkin 1951-54
Photos show the bo dot (the term used lor both the lOCIMduaI
solc:Iier and a unrt) weanng a wide ITIX of French, Chmese and
locally made clothing in vanous shades 01 khaki and green
drab: there are even reports 01 French airborne camouflage
uniforms lrom misdirected air drops. This vOlunteer IS about 10
lead an assault With a satchel charge - note the stick grenade
Ignlter set In the lOP central edge: some reports speak 01
distinct platoons of 'deaTh volunteers: in each Regular banaloo.
The d'laraclenSllC flat bamboo and fibre woven helmet 01 the
Oluc Luc IS covered wrth hessran sewn WIth scraps of scnm. 45
re-assembled capt Andre flew IntoTu Vu In thick mist
and under I,re: trlaged the casualties; operated on
some. and dressed Others; then made several round
tops to Hal'lOl caf'lYlng the most urgent liner cases two
by two
French female personnel enjoyed considerable
freedom In dress: here Capt Andre parades to
receive the CroUI de Guerre TOE, wearing the red
beret presented to her In gratllude by Colomal
paratroopers Jump-quahlied, she wears on her
blouse pocket her para Wlfl9S and - presumably for
lack of any more appropnate mSlgnla - lhe badge of
the Convoyeuses de rAw or 81fCreW nurses. for whICh
she was rather Gold rank gaJons are
worn on lhe shoulder straps (10 1976 she would
become France's first woman general offICer). A left
sleeve 6eusson of raspberry-coloured velvet. Without
edgIng for non-combatanl branches, bore a gold
caduceus centred between upnght, In-CUI'Vlng laurel
and oak branches.
.6
Bien PhIl. 211 November 11l53: IIfte-- an _an:! parade two
paras are pholOliJ"ilPhed WHring popular types of
hNdge.- _ II bMeball-style cap and • beret. bottl 01 US
camovf\age mater\lll. The WMnnt offlcef' (right) disIJ'ays chest
ranking and his _ Cn:Ib de Guerre TOE, on an M1941152
c:amouflaged Jump smoell as newIW' Issued for Op.-castot'. (ECPI'J
Reports speak of Regulars carTyI'1g a WIre mesh panel on thelI'
backs when on the march; al each halt the soldier changed the
foliage camouflage 01 the man In lront to match the locality
eltoctly. There seem to have been two sorts of ChInese-style
quilted cold weather jacket. one a sleeveIe'Ss. coIlariess yest:
this othel" type WIth a qUIlted torso. deep lal collar. and lined.
unqUilted sleeves is seen In photos from Olen Bien Phu. He
carnes ChInese Slick grenades In a labnc pouch set. and the
Ctunese Type 50 sub-machine gun.
G3 Viet Minh Regular, 308 Oil/ision: Hanoi, October 1954
Photos, some reproduced In Ihis book. show men 01 Glap's
original diVISion notably smar1 and well-eQuipped for the
I'Iandover of the capital atler the ceasefire. Nearly all wear the
woven helmet with cloth and net covers and pinned-on VM
badge. Uniforms are usually descnbed as khaki dnll. but at least
some seem to have been a very pale grey-green. Note the
French belt pouches, Chmese canteen and Mauser rifle: and
the fully stowed knapsack, probably Chmese - photos show
these both worn, and camed on bamboo poles between two
men, as were ammo boxes and other heavy items.
H1 Medecin-capitaine Valerie Andre, Atmee de l'Air; parade
dress, saigon, 1951 capt. Andre was. with Capt. santini 01 the
Army, one 01 the prlvately-tramed pilots for the only two
helicopters then in Indochina - Hiller 360s purchased for the
pubbc health department. A qualified phy5lCtaO, surgeon. and
(Since the age of 16) PIlot. she often flew 11 conditions for whICh
the Hiller was very underpowered. to evacuate senous
casualties - or to parachute to their aid II evacuation was
Impractical A tYPICal miSSIOn (from her total of 496) was to
Tu Vu on the Black RIver on 11 December 1951, The only
semceable machl'le was Icw south in c:octllnchma; It was partly
dismantled. stowed 10 a Bnstol Fretghter. flown to HanOI. and
H2 Ouartier maitre de 1et'e classe, Division Navala
d'Assaul 3, Marine Nationale; walking-out dress, Nam
Dinh, 1953 Dwlassaut 3 was heaVIly engaged Itwoughout the
war In TonkIn; e.g.. In the Day RJV8( ligtmng of May 1951 its
CorTmando 63 suffered 75" casua/IJes while hokflflQ Btnh
church. ThIS Ieadll"lg seaman wears French khaki driI M1949
sI'ur1 and Ml948 slacks. hls 'bachf cap beanng the tally 'Flotile
Amphibte'. Three red SlOpes on the shoulder strapS mark his
rank; a non-regulatJon red-on-blue lJtIe 'ExtI'eme-Onent'. and
the crossed ancnors patch ollleet personnel. are worn on the
left sleeve only: the green-fleckS(! yeDow foorragere marking
DNA. 3's fourth CItation In Apnl1952 has a pnled-on enamellecl
badge 01 Red River forces. PhoIOS of embarked Vl8tnamese
corrwnandos show rnxed French and Bnllsh small arms. black
local costume and green drab fatigues: black berets were
common - that of Cdo.63 (from August 1953. 3e CLA)
somelJmes bore a Sliver copy 01 the French Naval Commandos'
shield-ever-scroll badge,
H3 Lieutenant-colonel, Foreign Legion infantry; daytime
walking-out dress, 1948 A composite figure, partly after
Lt.Col. Alain de Sa,ngne 01138 DBlE (k.i.a,1948), partly after an
officer of 3e REI. Officers who had served With the British in
World War II or who stopped over In Ceylon en route to
Indochina ohen lavoured British styles, like this four-pocket
khaki dflll bush Jackel worn With shQl1s, long socks and low
shoes. legion buttons in infantry gold have been added: a
regimental badge IS lobbed 10 the fight pocket: and the lelt
sleeve ecusson - as olten in thiS period, In all branches -
resembles an officer's pre-war collar palch, With double gold
piping to the upper edges only, and the legion's gold grenade.
Regimental numbers were often embrOidered in the grenade's
open 'bomb', here and on the kepi. The latter has live rank
gaJons, in the Infantry sequence gold! silverI gold! silverI gOld
(reversed lor cavalry units): the knot on the top surface and the
vertICal quarter-pipings are of trlpre gold lace. On his lel1
shoulder Is the commemoratIve 'RhlO et Danube' patch
markIng a vet8fan of the 151 French Army In the 1944-45
European campaign.
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l\lo1l<Iicau. tlI'/:"nm¥- F'''III(fIIV:
Im/or/IIII" Tom,./. Cop('rnic
Bois'i;lII. R;1\11l0nd. '1.(' n,'llaitlnll 3O'l'. /lJ'I'IU'
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\\c:'\.. 'I GIll""l' d'!nc!uchilll:. \(11' \ i.,i,
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Simoll, I'i"/I/(//II '/illrh Ospn.:) (I
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(19K!)
1.:1,,-'\1'•• Dl'nb.. ·I.... .. 19-1'--H;2",
.\lil/IlI.-;" III.,WI/inc :'\c".:\. I. 1).-10 indo
I,,'\\i... :\'Uflllan. .4. J)mgoll .INJflll"lIl.JOIl,uh,1Il

O'I\al1.IIl{"(', Eclgar. n", lmlrx/lllUl I\{II" IW)-54.
F.lht:.. &: Ellx'r ( I flt»)
l'in:Il.I, P.llrln.', & Ilaul:\Ilcl. IJidk'r. "(:1'0,,·1'1:111.
Dill:I,-';Il11 :r. .\1ili/((r;(/ lll:lJ.fol/illl:
Ilcm.ll"d IL Oi"11 /1iI'II1'1I1I.
(191),' )
Sitl11N1I1. R. o Ti/.'I'I·;II IJmvnl 11/1"1'.
lkIS't'\"- (I!l!ltl
IloIIIIIU' ,If' (;III'n'I' magazine. p:I,:-im
Kif); m,,,,nnag:l/illc.
ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THIS TEXT
AN\' Vil..'lll;lIIll..'.l«' :'\;Ilional Ann\'
B(:C <:Oloni,,1 (:oltllll:lItdo P:l1:tehlllc Iblralinll
BPCP l'arachll1l' l.ighl Infalllf\' l3almliOlI
BEl' Foreign (I.t':giOll) P;u'';IChlllt.' I\:utali(lll
I\lL\ .\f,ic:Ul Ughl Inf.UlIt' Ibll:llioll (penall
(\:\1 .\Iardl Il,lilalioll: nr. Ball;:lliotl
1\:\11 IndochilWSc... I!;ulalion
[We Coloni:lll"aI';IChlll"-' !!;m:llioll: or. P.lI,KIIlI1t'
.·hs..l111t &malion
1lI)\"::\" \ 'il'mar"L..;{· Il:maliutl
I\T Th:li B."lnalion
GEFEO French Far E:HI E."pc.'diliollar\ OJI'p'
C':IP Pal,;\chllll' ColllP:Ul\
C5:\1 :\lilit:lfy.\llxili:ll) (:Otllpall>
D::\". \ A'iS;1l11t Di\'i.l<iull
nl lighl machine gllll
cn. sen A11110lll"L'11 (;rOllp. Sub·Group
GJ::. \ .\lI1pllibioll.l< Group
GER R,,-,<"Qllllai'·.;lncc CrOlII)
( •.\1 Group
R\ .\11ilkl"\ Regiuwlll
R.\( C.olunial AnillL'1"\ RL'gimenl
RB(:E() Far E,ISl Annlllln'd R<'gilll('lli
RC ,": ROllll' Coloni,l1..•
RCC I CI\';111"\ Rq.;-inIl'1I1
ReI. (F..c 'R), 'I"<.'t"oilk..., tilk' -ligltl inf."l\lll"\ J:::1l1l
Rep Paradltll('Ught Inf.lllll"\ Regime'nl
REf: Fordgll (l.cgioll) <":;\\.111"\ RL'gillll..'t1l
REI Fordgn (I.q:,rion) 1111:11111' Regimt:m
RJ :\Ictropolitan Inranll"\ Rq,'inwlII
RIC C.OIUlli.lllnf;11ll1"\ Rt'},";llleill
ColOlli,lllllf.llIln Rt--gillll'lli
('IfIII1111 rL'cI)
R..';A .\lgc....ian Rq:;:illll..'l1I
.\Inl"occan C:1\,lh) Rq,rillll'lll
RT:\, Ifr,A Alg-criall Rilks Rc.:gilllL'lll. Ball:llioll
IU;\I, ;\Iot"!)('can RirlL" RL'gitnclll. I\;"llialion
RTS. U1'5 Sc:."lL'g<\ks(' Rilll" Rl..'gillll'nt, 1\;1l1.llioll
R"IT 'lillli,i,Ul Rilks R('h";1l1l'1I1
,u!>'Ill<lchinL' f{llll
1:\1' .\irhol1w Troop!>
T:\I TJlxlI (1m. III (oUtlinicl',j
TD ll.:lIl.llinn (\lelll:lml'.....')
nl \Iel :\Iinh
47
INDEX
48
;u\JUWll. Kn <k (.he... A2 It;,_
til,."' 1'l..:,'O, III H')
""h,,", "''''1'' "" ./'" ..,'.... h"u>I..I.)
...,"'" p;i....o"'M1fh
\1«....." T,r.,l1..."", 10. 14. 81 (t.... III
;unb",h, \..,. \h"h .'1
;aml,hi"""... ,,,,no .."d , ..h........ 17 I; 18
\mh. C...",,_ \ ..k...., III !,::, l!:ol
\",,;un ;, 7
\no..... d.... 'If III • 11'1
.lnnourrd {.-An ...... 11>. 16
;In'I..... 13
liu:ullut, ur..",:"", do" r..':orll,,""'..... IREI'I. I....
..
IbI.;'IIIIon \l .......jE I fl {jO. 1'"
B.o""llut, r...-.ochuu>l U""""un.i.l';cd
flU'( PI. 11'-" D! 1:''10. 1'1
fl..."""..... dO' ....r....iI"t"'... (..olon...." I RJ'f I
0' 1211.l).-HI. [I ':!9. HI.'" S8.40
&.........11\. P.....orh"""...... (:hoc RP<:I U. A!
It", 411
lbu,Il<... I''''r.ochuu..... \ 1M,""tlurT,.IIW\"\)
19. ts l:!Ol HI
b.onlri;"kl 'J--l,
R'.:n,d. Cd, U
bIocUIOIN', 1)00 l,;ttl,r",,,, ..·'" S6
..........Ifl..!t<' Id U1ufunn .......1
...' ......khd.l"r.."' C:..!<",i;olr CI (:1i. It.
(Ol>.lg/,..,.. 40
chrullOloj:> of",..,.,..
(;orh",rh",,,, to, 7
(.A>Il"•• ( ...".II....,.. 16
«""b;1I ""'l•. "'f•..-h
C2 (::I:i.
·'om",:.uKIo.· S. Ii, Iii
cr..!C'.lm.l"o'o"" (·,04"".... '8. 9
('''"''-''1<"'' .... DI 411
l:lr 1""'lIr d"l;.s,.illm. ('...".],,:.., Ii. 9. 1:S.

0,,,,, R"'n I'h" !l-IO. 39. 3'J-IO.
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tOl'r'l(n I....il'..." U.3' ,,1'" ""'a,ll."..
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11.12
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.·,,·nch L'"i""l"" .., 11_13
(;,ou"u"•. \I01'llCClIl 83 l:!ti. 12\,-Il!
l;.<Jt1pr- \Iobol.·. 16--17
g"..rrilLa. \;"1 'IInlt f'S 151
luIf....:.d.. \13: 'i
IWI". hdicopl"" %0
110 n" \h"h '.lI
,,,b.nln· 36
..nloJu..J III.CII:!7.12\
ru,,,,,,,, -I. 9. '" II).
liS l:t:!.. 11>1.'7 -II
.......t>pUltc;an 1-1
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1.£ ....
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boon,,,,,,,m eolunr" H' lijl.-IS
\(;om... I"'NOI' ,,,,..Ie d' ..........
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tnedcco......p"I:AJ III
ntoQl..ldc-m. <..own \I..,uc;u"" B, -121
\I... FI 151
"<>«>Can (.<...n' ...... B' (26. 121,-It
'1......l«:Ul T..bof. a I'ti. -12-4'''-12
Mor<lCCl" Ti..-..dlc"... Ii. 8! 12\
1.,.,.8;ou,11on FE HI
'\'C();. E3 t2'l. HI. "0
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-I. II, I:? 1-1.22. 2-1.
The uniforms, equipment, history ana
of the world's military forces, past anu pre,elll.
Indochina War
1946-54
Full colour artwork
Schematic drawings
OSPREY
PUBLISHING
www.ospreypublishing.com
Photographs
Unrivalled detail
The states of Indochina had been
French colonies or protectorates
since the 19th century. However,
in March 1945 the Japanese
interned all French troops
and officials, and turned over
all civil government to local
authorities. The power vacuum
caused by the Japanese surrender
allowed the Viet Minh, a strong
revolutionary organisation, to be
established throughout Vietnam.
When the French returned to the
north, incidents between French
and VM troops were inevitable,
negotiations collapsed and
the French opted for a military
solution. This book examines
the history of the conflict and
the forces of both sides.
ISBN 1-85532-789-9
1111111 II II
9 781855 327894