Dien Bien Phu: The Epic Battle America Forgot (History of War) eBook: Howard R . Simpson: echecs16.info: Kindle Store. Dien Bien Phu is the definitive account of the great, climactic battle in French Indochina that led to the American commitment to Vietnam. Defense analyst. Dien Bien Phu is recognized as one of history's great battles. It began in November , when French paratroopers seized a small airstrip in.
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Dien Bien Phu is the definitive account of the great, climactic battle in French Indochina that Dien Bien Phu: The Epic Battle America Forgot and millions of other books are .. Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. The battle of Dien Bien Phu ( ), stresses the author, was one of the modern era's most decisive. Available in the National Library of Australia collection. Author: Simpson, Howard R., ; Format: Book; xxv, p.,  p. of plates: ill., maps ; 25 cm.
Summary The fighting began in November , when French paratroopers seized a small airstrip in northwestern Vietnam. It ended in May with tens of thousands of Vietminh troops overrunning the besieged garrison. A third of the 15, defenders died in combat; fewer than a hundred escaped into the jungle. Thousands more died in captivity. Dien Bien Phu is recognized as one of history's great battles and as a turning point for American policy: the French defeat led to the fateful U. Ironically, the U. American Howard R.
A challenge of the future in Vietnam will be to broaden the understanding of citizenship to include taking greater control over one's own life and local environment. They differ significantly from their Western coun- terparts. Vietnamese people respect and commemorate heroes, ances- tors and important historical incidents, including victories over ene- mies, and there is a strong feeling of obligation towards the fatherland.
It works well in relation to natural objects traditionally held sacred, like a tree or stone, in which case there should be no human intervention to change the object's condition or location.
It shows disrespect to the gods, heroes and ancestors to allow shrines to remain unimproved They prefer to forget the conflict and pain of the past and focus more on current problems. Whilst it is true that the movie adopts the perspective of french soldiers, it does not antagonize the Vietminh, barely showing Vietnamese fighters at all until the last act.
When it does deliver a message, the film addresses the loss of french soldiers, many of which came from the colonies. Even in doing so, the loss is imputed on war itself rather than on 'the enemy'.
This being said this movie is neither anti-war nor pro-war although it reveals a somehow troubling fascination with the military. In traditional military fashion, it makes no statement of opinion and is not interested in the classic opposition between right or wrong or good and evil. Rather this movie is about an absence. Absence of traditional narrative, of action, of the enemy. This absence is in contrast with movies like Platoon, Apocalypse now or Rambo where there is often a clear narrative supported by a moral message whether it is pro or anti-war.
This can be partly explained by the fact that french colonisation and the European military presence in colonised territories was much harder to justify from a moral stand point.
Harder to justify in a traditional movie narrative with a bad guy and a hero and a cathartic ending. Take for instance the character interpreted by Charlie Sheen in Platoon: his character arc is based on the fact that he is an idealistic young man who becomes disillusioned when confronted to the reality of war. This sort of character would not work in Schoendoerffer's movie, because there is no room at all for idealism in colonisation, not at the time of the conflict when public opinion in France was already shifting and certainly not in when the film was made.
Hence there is no room for 'disillusion narrative' because independence conflicts are hardly justifiable at all from the occupant's perspective. Yet, the movie does not go in the opposite direction: it does not condemn the action of the french army either.
It is relevant here to observe that the movie was shot in Vietnam and had to be approved by this government.
This is where its documentary style comes into play. The artillery had been dug in by single pieces They were installed in shellproof dugouts, and fire point-blank from portholes This way of using artillery and AA guns was possible only with the expansive ant holes at the disposal of the Vietminh and was to make shambles of all the estimates of our own artillerymen.
The airstrip, already closed since the day before due to a light bombardment, was now put permanently out of commission. The attack began with a concentrated artillery barrage at This was very effective and stunned the defenders.
Two regiments from the crack th Division attacked starting at At the following morning, an artillery shell hit the battalion headquarters, severely wounding the battalion commander and most of his staff. However, Colonel Pierre Langlais , in forming the counterattack, chose to rely on the 5th Vietnamese Parachute Battalion, which had jumped in the day before and was exhausted.
At the next day, the Algerian battalion fell back, abandoning Gabrielle to the Viet Minh. The French lost around 1, men defending Gabrielle, and the Viet Minh between 1, and 2, attacking the strongpoint.
The fall of Beatrice and Gabrielle had demoralized them. On the morning of 17 March, under the cover of fog, the bulk of the Tais left or defected. The French and the few remaining Tais on Anne-Marie were then forced to withdraw. The Viet Minh further tightened the noose around the French central area formed by the strong points Huguette, Dominique, Claudine, and Eliane , effectively cutting off Isabelle and its 1, personnel to the south. Even more critical, after the fall of the northern outposts, he isolated himself in his bunker so that he had, in effect, relinquished his command authority".
Cogny considered parachuting into the encircled garrison, but his staff talked him out of it. On 24 March, an event took place which later became a matter of historical debate. The historian Bernard Fall records, based on Langlais' memoirs, that Colonel Langlais and his fellow paratroop commanders, all fully armed, confronted de Castries in his bunker on 24 March. They told him he would retain the appearance of command, but that Langlais would exercise it.
Phillip Davidson stated that the "truth would seem to be that Langlais did take over effective command of Dien Bien Phu, and that Castries became 'commander emeritus' who transmitted messages to Hanoi and offered advice about matters in Dien Bien Phu".
Both historians record that Langlais and Marcel Bigeard were known to be on good terms with their commanding officer. Remarkably, the attack was a complete success, with Viet Minh soldiers killed and seventeen AA machine guns destroyed French estimate , while the French lost 20 killed and 97 wounded.
The positions in Eliane saw some of the most intense combat of the entire battle.
Those two areas were held by five understrength battalions, composed of Frenchmen, Legionnaires, Vietnamese, North Africans, and Tais. At on 30 March, the Viet Minh th Division captured Dominique 1 and 2, making Dominique 3 the final outpost between the Viet Minh and the French general headquarters, as well as outflanking all positions east of the river. Another group of French soldiers, near the airfield, opened fire on the Viet Minh with anti-aircraft machine guns, forcing the Viet Minh to retreat.
The th Division captured Eliane 1 from its Moroccan defenders, and half of Eliane 2 by midnight. Langlais ordered another counterattack the following afternoon against Dominique 2 and Eliane 1, using virtually "everybody left in the garrison who could be trusted to fight". The French, who were exhausted and without reserves, fell back from both positions late in the afternoon.
The French deployed a small number of M24 Chaffee light tanks US supplied during the battle which they nicknamed " Bisons ". With the exception of using heavy artillery and rocket-propelled grenade launchers RPGs , the Viet Minh could not effectively fight back against the French armour, ensuring their use throughout the battle.