Show tells story of Dien Bien Phu 

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Show tells story of Dien Bien Phu

An exhibition focusing on the logistics work that led to the Dien Bien Phu Victory opened at the Vietnam Revolution Museum on May 5.


The map of battle in Dien Bien Phu 1954

We focuses on talking about the logistic work during the campaign at the exhibit because its one of the important elements that contributed to that great success on May 7, 1954,

Inhabitants throughout the country were ready to contribute everything they had, including- food and medicine, to serve the soldiers on the front and answer the call of President Ho Chi Minh. All for the battlefront, all for the victory, said the director. Event after nine years of arduous resistance, the Dien Bien Phu campaign remained the countrys most famous mobilization effort.

Visitors to the show can view original documents like a map of the Dien Bien Phu Valley and the order signed by General Vo Nguyen Giap sent to the Vietnam Peoples Army during the campaign. The show also has a wide range of objects and images on display featuring logistics work for the campaign like bicycles used to transport supplies for Vietnamese forces to fight French troops.

Books written by General Giap about this great victory are also on display. Images of modern Dien Bien Phu City show the location as an attractive historic destination for both domestic and foreign visitors.

Dien Bien Phu Battle in 1954

Between December 6th, 1953 and January 24th, 1954, five Vietminh divisions will converge towards Ðiên Biên Phú and take position on the heights dominating the center of resistance. The 316 will arrive first on December 6th. Divisions 308, 351 and 312 will settle there between December 24 and 28th, 1953.

Division 304 will arrive there on January 24th, 1954.

The French in charge were advised on several occasions, at the end of December 1953, of the imminence of a Vietminh attack.

Colonel de CASTRIES ordered to increase offensive recognitions around Ðiên Biên Phú. The parachutists were the spearhead. They all encountered very compact Vietminh units.

Since a few days a vietminh gun of Japanese origin presumably, harasses the fortified camp, firing here and there, day after day, one shell, one only seeming to fall randomly, its impacts surrounding the airfield most of the time. In order to try to locate and to neutralize it, an operation is decided on February 6th towards hill 781, its supposed location. In vain!

A new offensive recognition north-east, started on February 12th with the lst BEP, the 8th BPC, the 3rd RTA, the 3rd REI with the support of " SCHAFFEE " tanks will result in a very serious engagement which will impose a retreat.

That offensive recognition will be done again on February 15th and 16th with the reinforced 8th BPC, the lst BEP and the 3/3 RTA still.

It will be half a success only: the French will hustle the Vietminh encountered, will occupy the ground (hills 561 and 674) at the cost of significant losses (15 killed and wounded among the Riflemen) but will not discover the famous Japanese gun which harasses the camp.

On February 20th, north of Gabrielle, the lst BEP and the 8th BPC had discovered Vietminh artillery sites which proved that the invest was becoming more precise and being reinforced.

On March 11th, a new and last recognition will be attempted towards hill 553, hardly 3 kms from the fortified camp . The French losses will be severe once again.

On the whole, the losses recorded during the first three months of this offensive phase of occupation from November 20th, 1953 to March 12th , 1954 (the day before the Vietminh attack) will be very serious: 151 killed, 798 wounded and 88 missing, among the parachutists troops essentially, which were highly solicited for long distance sorties, recognition patrols of the valley accesses and ambushes.

The 1st BEP, 5th BPVN, 6th BPC, lst BPC and 8th BPC will be hitted the most .

An increased Chinese assistance is confirmed also. Equipment and ammunition deliveries from China are reported in Tonkin. In the High Region, a strength of 75 000 coolies repares 200 km of roads for the vehicle traffic and builds 100 km more from scratch. Thus, the Vietminh has a 350 km road from the Chinese border to Tuan Ciao (55 kms North-East of Ðiên Biên Phú via RP 41) where it establishes its big logistic base intended to supply and support the units laying the siege


Dien Bien Phu former battlefield

The French Air Force endeavours to disorganize these communication routes, attacks the convoys, bombards the roads.

But the cuts are repaired as quickly as made; the Vietminh trucks, the bicycles convoys, the carrier coolies circulate at night only or when the weather grounds our aviation.

In Paris, the situation report from General NAVARRE is described as a " black novel ". He asks for reinforcements which he will not obtain and the few additional aircraft planes that he is granted

will be too late to be efficient. Indeed, other actions are taking place which mobilize the whole of the available units (Operation Atlante and others...).

Beginning of March 1954, a few days before the attack, the fortified camp is at the " top level ": 12.000 men, tanks, artillery, enormous ammunition reserves, are divided amongst the centers of resistance (Anne-Marie, Béatrice, Claudine, Dominique, Éliane...) judiciously laid out to cover the valley entries north (Gabrielle) and north-east (Béatrice), defend the north-western access (Anne Marie), protect the airfield by the North (Huguette) and prevent an attack from the mountainous eastern face (Dominique and Éliane installed on the hills dominating the valley).

The stronghold Isabelle, 6 km south, with its alternative airfield, is occupied by 1.809 men and has tanks and artillery also, able to intervene in support of the central portion.

General NAVARRE considers Ðiên Biên Phú as the fortified unit by far the most powerful ever realised in Indo-China. One did not imagine that the enemy could install heavy calibre guns within range of the camp in the neighbouring mountainous zone, totally inaccessible. And if it were the case, our artillery and aviation would soon destroy them. That was the specialists’ opinion.

The Vietminh, itself, had 33 battalions, including 27 assieging the fortified camp and 6 on the rears to bar the road to an external intervention. As heavy armament, it had 20 105 mm guns, 20 75 mm guns and a very large number of mortars and recoilless guns.


- 100 - 12,7 mm machine-guns (antiaircraft)

- 16 - 37 mm guns (antiaircraft) which were reinforced at the beginning of the battle by a 4 battalions regiment, armed with 37 mm modern russian guns (64 pieces of ordnance) arrived from China.

The Vietminh all calibres shell reserves approached the 100.000 (reserves able to be renewed and increased by convoys from China). In fact, the number of artillery projectiles fired by the Vietminh during the battle (57 days) will exceed 200.000.

Between November 1953 and the beginning of March 1954, Ðiên Biên Phú received a great number of VIP visitors, high Office incumbents:

- Mr. PLEVEN, Minister for National Defence

- Mr. de CHEVIGNÉ, Secretary of State for War

- Mr. Marc JACQUET, Secretary of State for the Associated States

- General ÉLY, Chief of Staff Armed Forces

- General BLANC, Chief of Staff Land Forces

- General FAY, Chief of Staff Air Force

- General HINH, Chief of Staff Vietnamese Armed Forces

- Sir O' DANIEL, Head of the American Military Assistance Mission,


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