It takes 474km from Hanoi following National Highway No. 6 to Tuan Giao and then the Provincial Road No 279 to Dien Bien Phu. Beside that, there is Muong Thanh Airport in Dien Bien Phu, connecting Ha Noi - Dien Bien Phu. Dien Bien is mountainous tropical area. Dien Bien possesses charming natural scenery, also proud of many historic sites. There is Muong Thanh Airport in Dien Bien Phu, connecting Ha Noi - Dien Bien Phu, it takes 1 hour by plane. Dien Bien is mountainous tropical area. There are the dry and the rainy seasons. The average temperature is about 21°C - 23°C. Dien Bien has its place in the minds of the Vietnamese as the battle ground that changed the course of history of the country. In May 1954, the Dien Bien Phu victory of the Vietnamese over the French forces created a ripple throughout the world. The city has retained some of the remnants of the war like the Doc Lap Hill, the airport, and the command tunnel of General de Castries. Though it still draws tourists as the site of the famous war, Dien Bien Phu is also a town of exotic natural beauty with Muong Thanh valley surrounded by mountains. Across the valley flows the Nam Rom River making the land fertile. This city is the home of different minority people, another reason for visiting the place when you are sightseeing in Vietnam
Located in and around the 20km-long valley of Dien Bien Phu. After the victorious battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, almost all historical sites of this battle lying to the east of the Muong Thanh Field have been preserved intact. The valley of Dien Bien Phu was 18km long and 6-8 km wide when the Dien Bien Phu campaign began. To date, the valley spreads over 20km long. On November 20th, 1953, French paratroopers occupied the valley and built 49 strongholds in three sub-sections. Among these sites include artillery emplacements, remains of airplanes, Muong Thanh Bridge, the command bunker of De Castries, Hill A1 and the cemetery. Some 35km from the center of Dien Bien Phu City, in Muong Phang Commune lays the Command Post of General Vo Nguyen Giap.
The museum houses a great deal of documents and objects relating to the 55-day arduous battle of Vietnamese soldiers and people to make the glorious victory of the whole nation in spring 1954. The museum exhibits its objects both indoors and outdoors.
The cemeteries in Hill A1 (644 tombs) and Doc Lap Hill (2432 tombs)
This is the resting place of Vietnamese soldiers who sacrificed heroically in the Dien Bien Phu Campaign. In Hill A1 lie the tombs of heroic martyrs such as To Vinh Dien, Be Van Dan, Phan DinhGioandTranCan. This height stands block the way to the northeast sub-section. It has a significant role, controlling the whole battle of Dien Bien Phu. During 36 nights and days, the fierce battle claimed the lives of 2516 Vietnamese soldiers. Only until the night of May 6th, 1954 did Vietnamese soldiers win this decisive battle
Muong Thanh Airfield
This was the stronghold 206 and the central airport of the entrenched camp of Dien Bien Phu. Currently this airport is renamed Dien Bien Phu and becomes one of the destinations in the flight system of the Vietnam Civil Aviation. The Command bunker of the Dien Bien Phu entrenched camp De Castries worked inside the bunker. The original shape and size, structure and arrangement of the bunker are kept intact.
Him Lam Hill
On March 13th, 1954, Vietnamese troops fought the first battle in Him Lam Hill, which is situated to the northwest of the valley.
Doc Lap Hill
Vietnamese troops liberated the hill on March 15th, 1954.
Hills C, D and E
From afar, one can easily recognize the name of these hills. Atop D1 Hill stands the newly-erected Statue of Dien Bien Phu Victory.
Muong Phang Commune
The Command post of the Vietnamese soldiers from January 21st to May 8th, 1954: It is situated in a primitive forest in Muong Phang Commune. Here one will find the hut where General Vo Nguyen Giap worked and other huts for information and military operation discussion. The victory was the most decisive factor, while the revolutionary movement in the south brought about the successful liberation of the south and the reunification of the country.
Therefore, the victory at Dien Bien Phu and the resistance war against the French gave our army and people the basis, theory, experience and confidence to defeat the American aggressors and bring the 30-year-long liberation war to a victorious end.
In the international sphere, the Dien Bien Phu victory signalled the collapse of colonialism and ushered in a new era for oppressed peoples around the world.
As everybody knows, by the turn of the 20th century almost all small, weak countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America had been subjugated by imperialist powers.
Hundreds of peoples lived a life of slavery under the colonialist and imperialist yoke with no way out.
The Dien Bien Phu victory was the first time in the history of the anti-colonialist movement that a nation, small in size and in population and subject to colonial and semi-feudal rule, could rise up and defeat the modern, aggressive army of a Western capitalist power. The victory was a turning point for our people and of the anti-colonialist movement in the 20th century, as it destroyed and captured a great number of officers and men from a powerful expeditionary corps.
In my visits to some Asian and African countries after Dien Bien Phu, I was told again and again by their leaders and people: "The Dien Bien Phu victory was also our victory, and thanks to it we could raise our head high."
They loudly chanted "Viet Nam, Ho Chi Minh, Dien Bien Phu." Dien Bien Phu became a source of pride and confidence for oppressed peoples and a source of encouragement and inspiration for the anti-colonialist movement around the world.
After Dien Bien Phu, hundreds of peoples raised up to fight for national independence, in many different ways. All over the world, colonialism was eliminated forever.
Through the sound and clear-sighted leadership of our Party and President Ho Chi Minh.
We drew many lessons from the Dien Bien Phu campaign, but I will only mention some of the most important ones.
We must always have a pragmatic point of view, and the first lesson is to look at the reality of a situation. The practicalities of a situation are constantly changing.
During the winter and spring of 1953-54, we followed the situation closely, were aware of the enemy's intentions and analyzed the contradictions in the French war of aggression and the Navarre plan.
In this way, Uncle Ho and the Politburo could put forward an exact, creative and sharp plan of operations, compelling the enemy to disperse its forces and luring them to Dien Bien Phu where we could wipe them out.
At Dien Bien Phu, the campaign's Party Organization and Command closely followed the developments on the battlefield day and night, and thoroughly analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of either side.
When we detected a swing in the pendulum of power, we would change our tactics and methods to meet the situation. We went from a plan of "fighting fast and winning fast" in three days and two nights to "fighting surely and advancing surely" over a period of 55 days and nights achieve our final victory.
The second lesson was to rely on the strength of the whole country. The enemy claimed its fortifications at Dien Bien Phu were impenetrable, but in reality they were a great obstacle for our soldiers and civilians.
To create the momentum needed to defeat the French at Dien Bien Phu, under the clear-sighted leadership of Uncle Ho and the Party, we successfully mobilized the strength of soldiers and civilians across the country, from north to south, from the liberated areas to occupied zones.
We also gained the sympathy and support of our Lao and Cambodian neighbors, as well as China, the Soviet Union, other socialist countries and progressive people all over the world, including the French people.
When we talk about the political and military significance of the Dien Bien Phu victory, its cultural significance has already been implied.
As a matter of fact, the victory at Dien Bien Phu eloquently symbolized justice winning over injustice and civilization winning over savagery.
It is the victory of patriotism, of the spirit of indomitable struggle and of the intelligence of the Vietnamese people. It is, over all, the victory of Vietnamese culture in the Ho Chi Minh era over colonialist culture.
The Dien Bien Phu victory not only delivered half of Viet Nam back to our people and eliminated the wretched state of slavery, it has also been an important source of encouragement and inspiration for oppressed nations to raise up and wipe out colonialism, a filthy stain in the history of humanity.
In short, the Dien Bien Phu victory played an important role in the struggle to bring to the Vietnamese people, to all oppressed peoples and to progressive people, the right to live humanely and the right to pursue peace and happiness.
We are extremely proud of the Dien Bien Phu victory because it reinforced the age-old cultural traditions of the Vietnamese nation, which were again were taken to new heights during the war of resistance against US aggression.
We firmly believe that under the leadership of our Party, the fine cultural traditions of our people will continue to be preserved and developed through the process of doi moi (social and economic reform) to build and protect the socialist Vietnamese homeland.
The Battle of Dien Bien Phu(French: Bataille de Diên Biên Phu; Vietnamese: Chi?n d?ch Ði?n Biên Ph?) was the climactic confrontation of the First Indochina War between the French Union's French Far East Expeditionary Corps and Viet Minh communist revolutionaries. The battle occurred between March and May 1954 and culminated in a comprehensive French defeat that influenced negotiations over the future of Indochina at Geneva. Military historian Martin Windrow wrote that Ði?n Biên Ph? was "the first time that a non-European colonial independence movement had evolved through all the stages from guerrilla bands to a conventionally organized and equipped army able to defeat a modern Western occupier in pitched battle."
As a result of blunders by the French , the French began an operation to cut off the soldiers at Ði?n Biên Ph?, deep in the hills of northwestern Vietnam. Its purpose was to cut off Viet Minh supply lines into the neighboring Kingdom of Laos, a French ally, and tactically draw the Viet Minh into a major confrontation that would cripple them. Instead, the Viet Minh, under Senior General Võ Nguyên Giáp, surrounded and besieged the French, who were unaware of the Viet Minh's possession of heavy artillery (including anti-aircraft guns) and, more importantly, their ability to move such weapons through extremely difficult terrain to the mountain crests overlooking the French encampment. The Viet Minh occupied the highlands around Ði?n Biên Ph? and were able to accurately bombard French positions at will. Tenacious fighting on the ground ensued, reminiscent of the trench warfare of World War I. The French repeatedly repulsed Viet Minh assaults on their positions. Supplies and reinforcements were delivered by air, though as the French positions were overrun and the anti-aircraft fire took its toll, fewer and fewer of those supplies reached them. After a two-month siege, the garrison was overrun and most French forces surrendered, only a few successfully escaping to Laos.
Shortly after the battle, the war ended with the 1954 Geneva Accords, under which France agreed to withdraw from its former Indochinese colonies. The accords partitioned Vietnam in two; fighting later broke out among rival Vietnamese forces in 1959 resulting the Vietnam (Second Indochina) War.
By 1953, the First Indochina War was not going well for France. A succession of commanders-Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, Jean-Étienne Valluy, Roger Blaizot, Marcel Carpentier, Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, and Raoul Salan-had proven incapable of suppressing the Viet Minh insurrection. During their 1952-53 campaign, the Viet Minh had overrun vast swaths of Laos, a French ally and Vietnam's western neighbor, advancing as far as Luang Prabang and the Plain of Jars. The French were unable to slow the Viet Minh advance, and the Viet Minh fell back only after outrunning their always-tenuous supply lines. In 1953, the French had begun to strengthen their defenses in the Hanoi delta region to prepare for a series of offensives against Viet Minh staging areas in northwest Vietnam. They had set up fortified towns and outposts in the area, including Lai Chau near the Chinese border to the north, Na San to the west of Hanoi, and the Plain of Jars in northern Laos.
In May 1953, French Premier Rene Mayer appointed Henri Navarre, a trusted colleague, to take command of French Union Forces in Indochina. Mayer had given Navarre a single order-to create military conditions that would lead to an "honorable political solution." On arrival, Navarre was shocked by what he found. There had been no long-range plan since de Latter's departure. Everything was conducted on a day-to-day, reactive basis. Combat operations were undertaken only in response to enemy moves or threats. There was no comprehensive plan to develop the organization and build up the equipment of the Expeditionary force. Finally, Navarre, the intellectual, the cold and professional soldier, was shocked by the 'school's out' attitude of Salam and his senior commanders and staff officers. They were going home, not as victors or heroes, but then, not as clear losers either. To them the important thing was that they were getting out of Indochina with their reputations frayed, but intact. They gave little thought to, or concern for, the problems of their successors."
Defense of Laos
The most controversial issue surrounding the battle is whether Navarre was also obligated to defend Laos, which was far from the French seat of military power in Hanoi. Although Navarre assumed it was his responsibility, defending it would require his army to operate far from its home base. During meetings with France's National Defense Committee on July 17 and July 24, Navarre asked if he was responsible for defending northern Laos. These meetings produced a misunderstanding that became the most disputed fact of the controversy surrounding the battle. For years afterwards, Navarre insisted the committee had reached no consensus; French Premier Joseph Laniel insisted that, at that meeting, the Committee had instructed Navarre to abandon Laos if necessary. "On this key issue, the evidence supports Navarre's claim that on July 24, he was given no clear-cut decision regarding his responsibility for Laos. Over the years, when challenged by Navarre, Laniel has never been able to present any written evidence to support his contention that Navarre was instructed to abandon Laos if necessary." The committee was reluctant to give Navarre a definitive answer because its proceedings were constantly leaked to the press, and the politicians on the committee did not want to take a politically damaging position on the issue.
Na San and the hedgehog concept
For more details on this topic, see Battle of Na San.
Simultaneously, Navarre had been searching for a way to stop the Viet Minh threat to Laos. Colonel Louis Berteil, commander of Mobile Group 7 and Navarre's main planner, formulated the "hérisson" (hedgehog) concept. The French army would establish a fortified airhead by air-lifting soldiers adjacent to a key Viet Minh supply line to Laos. This would effectively cut off Viet Minh soldiers fighting in Laos and force them to withdraw. "It was an attempt to interdict the enemy's rear area, to stop the flow of supplies and reinforcements, to establish a redoubt in the enemy's rear and disrupt his lines"
The hedgehog concept was based on French experiences at the Battle of Na San. In late November and early December 1952, Giap attacked the French outpost at Na San. Na San was essentially an "air-land base", a fortified camp supplied only by air. Giap's forces were beaten back repeatedly with very heavy losses. The French hoped that by repeating the strategy on a much larger scale, they would be able to lure Giap into committing the bulk of his forces in a massed assault. This would enable superior French artillery, armor, and air support to decimate the exposed Viet Minh forces. The experience at Na San convinced Navarre of the viability of the fortified airhead concept.
French staff officers disastrously failed to treat seriously several crucial differences between Ði?n Biên Ph? and Na San. First, at Na San, the French commanded most of the high ground with overwhelming artillery support. At Ði?n Biên Ph?, however, the Viet Minh controlled much of the high ground around the valley, their artillery far exceeded French expectations and they outnumbered the French four-to-one. Giap compared Ði?n Biên Ph? to a "rice bowl", where his troops occupied the edge and the French the bottom. Second, Giap made a mistake in Na San by committing his forces into reckless frontal attacks before being fully prepared. At Ði?n Biên Ph?, Giap would spend months meticulously stockpiling ammunition and emplacing heavy artillery and anti-aircraft guns before making his move. Teams of Viet Minh volunteers were sent into the French camp to scout the disposition of the French artillery. Wooden artillery pieces were built as decoys and the real guns were rotated every few salvos to confuse French counterbattery fire. As a result, when the battle finally began, the Viet Minh knew exactly where the French artillery was, while the French were not even aware of how many guns Giap possessed. Third, the aerial resupply lines at Na San were never severed despite Viet Minh anti-aircraft fire. At Ði?n Biên Ph?, Giap amassed anti-aircraft batteries that quickly shut down the runway and made it extremely difficult and costly for the French to bring in reinforcements.
Lead up to Castor
In June , Major General René Cogny, commander of the Tonkin Delta, proposed Ði?n Biên Ph?, which had an old airstrip built by the Japanese during World War II, as a "mooring point". In another misunderstanding, Cogny had envisioned a lightly defended point from which to launch raids; however, to Navarre, this meant a heavily fortified base capable of withstanding a siege. Navarre selected Ði?n Biên Ph? for the location of Berteil's "hedgehog". When presented with the plan, every major subordinate officer protested-Colonel Jean-Louis Nicot, (commander of the French Air transport fleet), Corny, and generals Jean Gilles and Jean Dachau (the ground and air commanders for Operation Castor, the initial airborne assault on Dien Bien Phu). Cogny pointed out, presciently, that "we are running the risk of a new Na San under worse conditions" Navarre rejected the criticisms of his proposal, and concluded a November 17 conference by declaring the operation would commence three days later, on November 20, 1953.
Navarre decided to go ahead with the operation, despite operational difficulties which would later become painfully obvious (but at the time may have been less apparent) because he had been repeatedly assured by his intelligence officers that the operation had very little risk of involvement by a strong enemy force. Navarre had previously considered three other ways to defend Laos: mobile warfare, which was impossible given the terrain in Vietnam; a static defense line stretching to Laos, which was not executable given the number of troops at Navarre's disposal; or placing troops in the Laotian capitals and supplying them by air, which was unworkable due to the distance from Hanoi to Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Thus, the only option left to Navarre was the hedgehog option, which he characterized as "a mediocre solution."
In a twist of fate, the French National Defense Committee ultimately did agree that Navarre's responsibility did not include defending Laos. However, their decision (which was drawn up on November 13) was not delivered to him until December 4, two weeks after the Ði?n Biên Ph? operation began.
Establishment of the airhead
Operations at Ði?n Biên Ph? began at 10:35 on the morning of November 20, 1953. In Operation Castor, the French dropped or flew 9,000 troops into the area over three days. They were landed at three drop zones: Natasha, northwest of Ði?n Biên Ph?; Octavie, southwest of Ði?n Biên Ph?; and Simone, southeast of Ði?n Biên Ph?.
The Viet Minh elite 148th Independent Infantry Regiment, headquartered at Ði?n Biên Ph?, reacted "instantly and effectively"; three of their four battalions, however, were absent that day. Initial operations proceeded well for the French. By the end of November, six parachute battalions had been landed and the French were consolidating their positions.
It was at this time that Giap began his counter-moves. Giap had expected an attack, but could not foresee when or where it would occur. Giap realized that, if pressed, the French would abandon Lai Chau Province and fight a pitched battle at Ði?n Biên Ph?. On November 24, Giap ordered the 148th Infantry Regiment and the 316th division to attack Lai Chau, while the 308th, 312th, and 351st divisions assault Ði?n Biên Ph? from Viet Bac .
Starting in December, the French, under the command of Colonel Christian de Castries, began transforming their anchoring point into a fortress by setting up seven positions, each allegedly named after a former mistress of de Castries, although the allegation is probably unfounded, as the names simply begin with the first eight letters of the alphabet. The fortified headquarters was centrally located, with positions "Huguette" to the west, "Claudine" to the south, and "Dominique" to the northeast. Other positions were "Anne-Marie" to the northwest, "Beatrice" to the northeast, "Gabrielle" to the north and "Isabelle" four miles (6 km) to the south, covering the reserve airstrip. The choice of de Castries as the on-scene commander at Dien Bien Phu was, in retrospect, a bad one. Navarre had picked de Castries, a cavalryman in the 18th century tradition, because Navarre envisioned Ði?n Biên Ph? as a mobile battle. In reality, Ði?n Biên Ph? required someone adept at World War I-style trench warfare, something for which de Castries was not suited.
The arrival of the 316th Viet Minh division prompted Cogny to order the evacuation of the Lai Chau garrison to Ði?n Biên Ph?, exactly as Giap had anticipated. En route, they were virtually annihilated by the Viet Minh. "Of the 2,100 men who left Lai Chau on December 9, only 185 made it to Ði?n Biên Ph? on December 22. The rest had been killed or captured or deserted." The Viet Minh troops now converged on Ði?n Biên Ph?.
The French had committed 10,800 troops, with more reinforcements totaling nearly 16,000 men, to the defense of a monsoon-affected valley surrounded by heavily wooded hills that had not been secured. Artillery as well as ten M24 Chaffee light tanks and numerous aircraft were committed to the garrison. The garrison comprised French regular troops (notably elite paratroop units plus artillery), Foreign Legionnaires, Algerian and Moroccan tirailleurs, and locally recruited Indochinese infantry.
All told, the Viet Minh had moved 50,000 regular troops into the hills surrounding the valley, totaling five divisions including the 351st Heavy Division which was made up entirely of heavy artillery. Artillery and AA guns, which outnumbered the French artillery by about four to one, were moved into camouflaged positions overlooking the valley. The French came under sporadic Viet Minh artillery fire for the first time on January 31, 1954, and patrols encountered the Viet Minh in all directions. The battle had been joined, and the French were now surrounded.
Disposition in the French at Dien Bien Phu, as of March 1954. The French took up positions on a series of fortified hills. The southernmost, Isabelle, was dangerously isolated. The Viet Minh positioned their 5 divisions (the 304th, 308th, 312th, 316th, and 351st) in the surrounding areas to the north and east. From these areas, the Viet Minh had a clear line of sight on the French fortifications and were able to accurately rain down artillery on the French positions.
The fighting began at 5:00 PM on March 13 when the Viet Minh launched a massive surprise artillery barrage. The time and date were carefully chosen-the hour allowed the artillery to fire in daylight, and the date was chosen because it was a new moon, allowing a nighttime infantry attack. The attack concentrated on position Beatrice, defended by the 3rd battalion of the 13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade.
Unknown to the French, the Viet Minh had made a minutely detailed study of Beatrice, and had rehearsed assaulting it using scaled models. According to one Viet Minh major: "Every evening, we came up and took the opportunity to cut barbed wire and remove of Beatrice, and to our surprise [French] artillery didn't know where we were".
The French command on Beatrice was decimated at 6:15 PM when a shell hit the French command post, killing Legionnaire commander Major Paul Pegot and his entire staff. A few minutes later, Colonel Jules Gaucher, commander of the entire northern sector, was also killed by Viet Minh artillery.
French resistance on Beatrice collapsed shortly after midnight following a fierce battle. Roughly 500 legionnaires were killed, along with 600 Viet Minh killed and 1,200 wounded from the 312th division. The French launched a counter-attack against Beatrice the following morning, but it was quickly beaten back by Viet Minh artillery. Despite their losses, the victory at Beatrice "galvanized the morale" of the Viet Minh troops.
Much to French disbelief, the Viet Minh had employed direct artillery fire, in which each gun crew does its own artillery spotting (as opposed to indirect fire, in which guns are massed farther away from the target, out of direct line of sight, and rely on a forward artillery spotter). Indirect artillery, generally held as being far superior to direct fire, requires experienced, well-trained crews and good communications which the Viet Minh lacked. Navarre wrote that "Under the influence of Chinese advisers, the Viet Minh commanders had used processes quite different from the classic methods. The artillery had been dug in by single pieces... They were installed in shell-proof 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 French artillery commander, Colonel Charles Perth, distraught at his inability to bring counter fire on the well-camouflaged Viet Minh batteries, went into his dugout and killed himself with a hand grenade. He was buried there in great secrecy to prevent loss of morale among the French troops.
Following a four hour cease fire on the morning of March 14, Viet Minh artillery resumed pounding French positions. The air strip was put out of commission, forcing the French to deliver all supplies by parachute. That night, the Viet Minh launched an attack on Gabrielle, held by an elite Algerian battalion. The attack began with a concentrated artillery barrage at 5:00 PM. Two regiments from the crack 308th division attacked starting at 8:00 PM. At 4:00 AM the following morning, a Viet Minh artillery shell hit the battalion headquarters, severely wounding the battalion commander and most of his staff.
De Castries ordered a counterattack to relieve Gabrielle. 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. Although some elements of the counterattack reached Gabrielle, most were paralyzed by the Viet Minh artillery and took heavy losses. At 8:00 AM the next day, the Algerian battalion fell back, abandoning Gabrielle to the Viet Minh. The French lost around 1,000 men defending Gabrielle, and the Viet Minh between 1,000 and 2,000.
Anne-Marie was defended by T'ai troops, members of a Vietnamese ethnic minority loyal to the French. For weeks, Giap had distributed subversive propaganda leaflets, telling the T'ais that this was not their fight. The fall of Beatrice and Gabrielle had severely demoralized them. On the morning of March 17, under the cover of a fog, the bulk of the T'ais left or defected. The French and the few remaining T'ais on Anne-Marie were then forced to withdraw.
March 17 through March 30 saw a lull in fighting. The Viet Minh further tightened the noose around the French central area (formed by the strongpoint's Huguette, Dominique, Claudine, and Eliane), effectively cutting off Isabelle and its 1,809 personnel. During this lull, the French suffered from a serious crisis of command. "It had become painfully evident to the senior officers within the encircled garrison-and even to Cogny at Hanoi-that de Castries was incompetent to conduct the defense of Dien Bien Phu. 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." On March 17, Cogny attempted to fly into Dien Bien Phu and take command, but his plane was driven off by anti-aircraft fire. Cogny considered parachuting into the encircled garrison, but his staff talked him out of it.
De Castries' seclusion in his bunker, combined with his superiors' inability to replace him, created a leadership vacuum within the French command. On March 24, Colonel Langlais and his fellow paratroop commanders, all fully armed, confronted de Castries. They told de Castries that he would retain the appearance of command, but that Langlais would exercise it. De Castries accepted the arrangement without protest, although he did exercise some command functions thereafter.
The French aerial resupply was taking heavy losses from Viet Minh machine guns near the landing strip. On March 27, Hanoi air transport commander Nicot ordered that all supply deliveries be made from 6,500feet (2,000m) or higher; losses were expected to remain heavy. De Castries ordered an attack against the Viet Minh machine guns two miles (3 km) west of Dien Bien Phu. Remarkably, the attack was a complete success, with 350 Viet Minh soldiers killed and seventeen AA machine guns destroyed. French losses were only twenty soldiers.
March 30- April 5 assaults
The positions in Elaine saw some of the most intense combat of the entire battle
The next phase of the battle saw more massed Viet Minh assaults against French positions in the central Dien Bien Phu area- at Elaine and Dominique in particular. Those two areas were held by five under strength battalions, composed of a mixture of Frenchmen, Legionnaires, Vietnamese, Africans, and Thais. Giap planned to use the tactics from the Beatrice and Gabrielle skirmishes.
At 7:00 PM on March 30, the Viet Minh 312th 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. At this point, the French 4th colonial artillery regiment entered the fight, setting its 105 mm howitzers to zero elevation and firing directly on the Viet Minh attackers, blasting huge holes in their ranks. Another group of French, near the airfield, opened fire on the Viet Minh with anti-aircraft machine guns, forcing the Viet Minh to retreat.
The Viet Minh were more successful in their simultaneous attacks elsewhere. The 316th division captured Elaine 1 from its Moroccan defenders and half of Elaine 2 by midnight. On the other side of Dien Bien Phu, the 308th attacked Huguette 7, and nearly succeeded in breaking through, but a French sergeant took charge of the defenders and sealed the breach.
Just after midnight on the 31st, the French launched a fierce counterattack against Elaine 2, and recaptured half of it. Langlauf ordered another counterattack the following afternoon against Dominique 2 and Elaine 1, using virtually "everybody left in the garrison who could be trusted to fight." The counterattacks allowed the French to retake Dominique 2 and Eliane 1, but the Viet Minh launched their own renewed assault. The French, who were exhausted and without reserves, fell back from both positions late in the afternoon. Reinforcements were sent north from Isabelle, but were attacked en route and fell back to Isabelle.
Shortly after dark on the 31st, Langlauf told Major Marcel Begird, who was leading the defense at Elaine, to fall back across the river. Bighead refused, saying "As long as I have one man alive I won't let go of Elaine 4. Otherwise, Dien Bien Phu is done for." The night of the 31st, the 316th division attacked Elaine 2. Just as it appeared the French were about to be overrun, a few French tanks arrived, and helped push the Viet Minh back. Smaller attacks on Elaine 4 were also pushed back. The Viet Minh briefly captured Huguette 7, only to be pushed back by a French counterattack at dawn on the 1st.
Fighting continued in this manner over the next several nights. The Viet Minh repeatedly attacked Eliane 2, only to be beaten back. Repeated attempts to reinforce the French garrison by parachute drops were made, but had to be carried out by lone planes at irregular times to avoid excessive casualties from Viet Minh anti-aircraft fire. Some reinforcements did arrive, but not nearly enough to replace French casualties.
On April 5, after a long night of battle, French fighter-bombers and artillery inflicted particularly devastating losses on one Viet Minh regiment which was caught on open ground. At that point, Giap decided to change tactics. Although Giap still had the same objective- to overrun French defenses east of the river- he decided to employ entrenchment and sapping to try to achieve it.
April 10 saw the French attempt to retake Eliane 1. The loss of Eliane 1 eleven days earlier had posed a significant threat to Eliane 4, and the French wanted to eliminate that threat. The dawn attack, which Bigeard devised, was preceded by a short, massive artillery barrage, followed by small unit infiltration attacks, followed by mopping-up operations. Without realizing it, Bigeard had re-invented the infiltration tactics used with great success by Oskar von Hutier in World War I. Eliane 1 changed hands several times that day, but by the next morning the French had control of the strongpoint. The Viet Minh attempted to retake it on the evening of April 12, but were pushed back.
"At this point, the morale of the Viet Minh soldiers broke. The French intercepted radio messages which told of units refusing orders, and Communist prisoners said that they were told to advance or be shot by the officers and noncommissioned officers behind them." The extreme casualties they had suffered (6,000 killed, 8,000 to 10,000 wounded, and 2,500 captured) had taken a toll; worse, the Viet Minh lacked any effective medical service. "Nothing strikes at combat morale like the knowledge that if wounded, the soldier will go uncared for." To avert the crisis, Giap called in fresh reinforcements from Laos.
During the fighting at Elaine 1, on the other side of camp, the Viet Minh entrenchments had almost entirely surrounded Huguette 1 and 6. On April 11, the garrison of Huguette 1 attacked, and was joined by artillery from the garrison of Claudine. The goal was to resupply Huguette 6 with water and ammunition. The attacks were repeated on the night of the 14-15th and 16-17th. While they did succeed in getting some supplies through, the heavy casualties convinced Langlauf to abandon Huguette 6. Following a failed attempt to link up, on April 18, the defenders at Huguette 6 made a daring break out, but only a few made it back to French lines. The Viet Minh repeated the isolation and probing attacks against Huguette 1, and overran it on the morning of April 22. With the fall of Huguette 1, the Viet Minh took control of more than 90% of the airfield, making accurate parachute drops impossible. This caused the landing zone to become perilously small, and effectively choked off much needed supplies. A French attack against Huguette 1 later that day was repulsed.
Isabelle saw only desultory action until March 30, when the Viet Minh succeeded in isolating it and beating back the attempt to send reinforcements north. Following a massive artillery barrage against Isabelle on March 30, the Viet Minh began employing the same trench warfare tactics against Isabelle that they were using against the central camp. By the end of April, Isabelle had exhausted its water supply and was nearly out of ammunition.
The Viet Minh launched a massed assault against the exhausted defenders on the night of May 1, overrunning Elaine 1, Dominique 3, and Huguette 5, although the French managed to beat back attacks on Elaine 2. On May 6, the Viet Minh launched another massed attack against Elaine 2. The attack included, for the first time, Katyusha rockets. The French also used an innovation. The French artillery fired with a "TOT" (Time On Target) attack, so that artillery rounds fired from different positions would strike on target at the same time. The barrage wiped out the assault wave. A few hours later that night, the Viet Minh detonated a mine shaft, blowing Elaine 2 up. The Viet Minh attacked again, and within a few hours had overrun the defenders.
On May 7, Giap ordered an all out attack against the remaining French units. At 5:00 PM, de Castries radioed French headquarters in Hanoi and talked with Corny.
De Castries: "The Viets are everywhere. The situation is very grave. The combat is confused and goes on all about. I feel the end is approaching, but we will fight to the finish."
Corny: "Well understood. You will fight to the end. It is out of the question to run up the white flag after your heroic resistance."
By nightfall, all French central positions had been captured. That night, the garrison at Isabelle made a breakout attempt. While the main body did not even escape the valley, about 70 troops out of 1,700 men in the garrison did escape to Laos.
On May 8, the Viet Minh counted 11,721 prisoners, of whom 4,436 were wounded. This was the greatest number the Viet Minh had ever captured: one-third of the total captured during the entire war. The prisoners were divided into groups. Able bodied soldiers were force-marched over 250miles (400km) to prison camps to the north and east, where they were intermingled with Viet Minh soldiers to discourage French bombing runs. Hundreds died of disease on the way. The wounded were given basic first aid until the Red Cross arrived, removed 858, and provided better aid to the remainder. Those wounded who were not evacuated by the Red Cross were sent into detention.
The prisoners, French survivors of the battle at Dien Bien Phu, were starved, beaten, and heaped with abuse, and many died. Of 10,863 survivors held as prisoners, only 3,290 were officially repatriated four months later. However, the losses figure may include the 3,013 prisoners of Indochinese origin whose eventual fate is unknown.
The garrison constituted roughly a tenth of the total French Union manpower in Indochina,. The defeat seriously weakened the position and prestige of the French as previously planned negotiations over the future of Indochina began.
The Geneva Conference (1954) opened on May 8, the day after the surrender of the garrison. Ho Chi Minh entered the conference on the opening day with the news of his troops' victory in the headlines. The resulting agreement temporarily partitioned Vietnam into two zones: the North was administered by the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam while the South was administered by the French-supported State of Vietnam. The last units of the French Union forces withdrew from Indo-China in 1956. This partition was supposed to be temporary, and the two zones were meant to be reunited through national elections in 1956. After the French withdrawal, the United States supported the southern government, under Emperor Bao Dai and Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem, which opposed the Geneva agreement, and which claimed that Ho Chi Minh's forces from the North had been killing Northern patriots and terrorizing people both in the North and the South. The North was supported by both communist China and the Soviet Union. This dispute would eventually escalate into the Vietnam War (Second Indochina War).
France's defeat in Indochina seriously damaged its prestige elsewhere in their colonial empire, notably the North African territories from which many of the troops who fought at Dien Bien Phu had been recruited. In 1954, six months after the battle at Dien Bien Phu ended, the Algerian War started, and by 1956 both Moroccan and Tunisian protectorates had gained independence. A French board of inquiry, the Cat roux Commission, would later investigated the defeat.
The battle was depicted in Dien Bien Phu, a 1992 docudrama film- with several autobiographical parts- in conjunction with the Vietnamese army by Dien Bien Phu veteran French director Pierre Schoendoerffer.
According to the Mutual Defense Assistance Act the United States provided the French with material aid during the battle- aircraft (supplied by the USS Saipan), weapons, mechanics, twenty-four CIA/CAT pilots, and U.S. Air Force maintenance crews. The United States, however, intentionally avoided overt direct intervention. In February 1954, following French occupation of Dien Bien Phu but prior to the battle, Democratic senator Mike Mansfield asked United States Defense Secretary Charles Erwin Wilson whether the United States would send naval or air units if the French were subjected to greater pressure there, but Wilson replied that "for the moment there is no justification for raising United States aid above its present level". President Dwight D. Eisenhower also stated, "Nobody is more opposed to intervention than I am". On March 31, following the fall of Beatrice, Gabrielle, and Anne-Marie, a panel of U.S. Senators and House Representatives questioned the American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Arthur W. Radford, about the possibility of American involvement. Radford concluded that it was too late for the U.S. Air Force to save the French garrison. A proposal for direct intervention was unanimously voted down by the panel, which "concluded that intervention was a positive act of war".
The United States did covertly participate in the battle. Following a request for help from Henri Navarre, Radford provided two squadrons of B-26 Invader bomber aircraft to support the French. Subsequently, 37 American pilots flew 682 sorties over the course of the battle. Earlier, in order to succeed the pre-Dien Bien Phu Operation Castor of November 1953, General Chester McCarty made available 12 additional C-119 Flying Boxcars flown by French crews. Two of the American pilots, Wallace Buford and James McGovern, Jr., were killed in action during the siege of Dien Bien Phu
In February 25, 2005, the seven still living American pilots were awarded the French Legion of Honor by Jean-David Levitte, the French ambassador to the United States. The role that the American pilots played in this battle had remained little known until 2004. The "American historian Erik Kissinger researched: the case for more than a year to establish the facts." The French author Jules Roy also suggests that Admiral Radford discussed with the French the possibility of using nuclear weapons in support of the French garrison. Moreover, John Foster Dulles was reported to have mentioned the possibility of lending atomic bombs to the French for use at Dien Bien Phu, and a similar source claims that British Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden was aware of the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons in that region.
Main article: Battle of Khe Sanh
In January 1968, during the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army (still under Giap's command) made an apparent attempt to repeat their success at Dien Bien Phu, by a siege and artillery bombardment on the U.S. Marine Corps infantry and artillery base at Khe Sanh, South Vietnam. Historians are divided on whether this was a genuine attempt to force the surrender of that Marine base, or else a diversion from the rest of the Tet Offensive, or an example of the North Vietnamese Army keeping its options open.
At Khe Sanh, a number of factors were significantly different from the siege of Dien Bien Phu. Khe Sanh was much closer to its supply base (45km/28mi versus 200km/120mi at Dien Bien Phu);
At Khe Sanh, the U.S. Marines held the high ground, and their artillery forced the North Vietnamese to use their own artillery from a much greater distance. On the other hand, at Dien Bien Phu, the French artillery (six 105 mm batteries and one battery of four 155 mm howitzers and mortars) were only sporadically effective; Khe Sanh received 18,000 tons in aerial resupplies during the 30-day battle, whereas during 167 days that the French forces at Dien Bien Phu held out, they received only 4,000 tons. By the end of the battle of Khe Sanh, U.S. Air Force warplanes had flown 9,691 tactical sorties and dropped 14,223 tons of munitions on targets within the Khe Sanh area. U.S. Marine Corps warplanes had flown 7,098 missions and dropped 17,015 tons of munitions. U.S. Navy warplanes, many of which had been redirected from the Operation Rolling Thunder bombing campaign against North Vietnam, flew 5,337 sorties and dropped 7,941 tons of ordnance on the enemy.
Women at Dien Bien Phu
Many of the flights operated by the French Air force to evacuate casualties had female flight nurses on board. A total of 15 women served on flights to Dien Bien Phu. One of them, Geneviève de Galard, was stranded at Dien Bien Phu when her plane was destroyed by shellfire while being repaired on the airfield. She remained on the ground providing medical services in the field hospital until the surrender. She was later referred to as the "Angel of Dien Bien Phu". However historians disagree regarding this moniker, with Martin Windrow maintaining that Galard was referred to by this name by the garrison itself, but Michael Kenney maintaining that it was added by outside press agencies.
The French forces came to Dien Bien Phu accompanied by two "Bordels Mobiles de Campagne," (mobile field brothels), served by Algerian and Vietnamese women. All apparently subsequently volunteered and served as nurse's aides during the siege. When the siege ended, the Vietminh sent the surviving Vietnamese women for "re-education."
Remembering Dien Bien Phu
General Vo Nguyen Giap.
THE 50th anniversary of one of the greatest battles of the 20th century is being commemorated in Vietnam and other countries. The battle of Dien Bien Phu, which saw the defeat of France at the hands of the Vietnamese, is a milestone in the decolonisation struggle worldwide. In the battle, which lasted 55 days (from March 13 to May 7, 1954), the Vietnamese were led by the legendary General Vo Nguyen Giap. Giap was later to play a crucial role in the war against U.S. occupation in South Vietnam.
Indo-China, comprising Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, was the jewel in the crown of imperial France. When the Japanese invaded Indo-China in 1940, most of the French colonial administrators and settlers chose to cooperate with the occupiers. The Japanese had shown to the people of South-East Asia that the white colonisers were not invincible. The political vacuum created in South-East Asia by the defeat of the Japanese in the Second World War was soon filled by nationalists who demanded freedom from colonial rule and exploitation. The French, like the Dutch in Indonesia, however, thought that they could re-establish their empire. They were encouraged in the re-colonisation endeavours by the United States. Ho Chi Minh, an avowed communist who led the Vietnamese, was viewed by the West as an agent of Moscow and Beijing. In those days, Washington firmly adhered to the "domino" theory in international politics. The argument was that if Vietnam was to be taken over by the communists, the neighbouring countries would fall like dominos to the advancing tide of socialism.
French soldiers in their trenches around Dien Bien Phu during the siege 50 years ago.
The People's Army of Vietnam (Viet Minh), formed after the Second World War, began giving the French a tough time. Its guerilla tactics coupled with the political sagacity of Ho Chi Minh forced the French to start negotiations. By 1953, the French had agreed to hold talks with the Vietnamese at Geneva. The French leadership calculated that a decisive military victory over the Viet Minh would give the French a stronger bargaining position at the talks, which were scheduled to start in April 1954. The French military commanders picked Dien Bien Phu, a picturesque village located in a river valley about 18-km long in northwestern Vietnam, near the border with Laos and China. It was also located along the access routes to Laos.
The French military leaders thought that if they succeeded in drawing the guerillas into a conventional battle, they could be easily defeated. There was also the intention to stop the flow of supplies and reinforcement by interdicting the Viet Minh's rear area. The bulk of the French troops and equipment were supplied by air. The main French garrison at Dien Bien Phu was supported by strong artillery positions on surrounding hilltops. The French forces, under the command of Gen. Christian de Castries, were confident that guns on the hilltops would neutralise any mass assault by the Viet Minh. By March 1954, the French troop strength at Dien Bien Phu had risen to 16,000. The architect of the new strategy was Gen. Henri Navarre, who had taken over as the commander-in-chief of the French Expeditionary Corps in Indo-China. Navarre's brief from Paris was to show to the Viet Minh that a military victory against his forces was impossible.
"The valley of Dien Bien Phu was fairly large but completely surrounded by high mountains. Our troops are already grouped around the valley. The enemy could no longer pull out without incurring major losses. They were entirely isolated as far as roads and airborne communications and supplies were concerned," wrote Gen. Giap in a book on the war published this year. Two U.S. airmen helping in the re-supply effort for the French were killed by anti-aircraft fire. They became the first Americans killed in combat in Vietnam. Washington had shouldered around 80 per cent of the cost of the French military effort in Indo-China.
French parachutists being airlifted to the war zone by a U.S. Air Force aircraft from the Oroly airfield in Paris.
Giap was given full control over the conduct of the war by Ho Chi Minh. "As field commander you have full authority on everything. This battle is vital and must be won at all costs. Fight only when you are sure of victory," Ho Chi Minh instructed Giap. Giap has also acknowledged that the "invaluable" experience of allies like China stood the Vietnamese in good stead. Much of the equipment, especially artillery pieces, were provided by the Chinese. The equipment was captured by the Chinese in the Korean War between 1950 and 1952.
The initial plan of the Vietnamese was to launch a full-scale frontal assault - "Swift attack, swift victory" was the strategy to be employed. But after studying the situation more closely, Giap devised the new strategy of "steady attack, steady advance". The general had concluded that the enemy was no longer in a state of "provisional defence" but had converted its base into "a fortified entrenched camp". Giap had decided to attack only if victory was guaranteed. "This battle will be very important, we must attack to win. Attack only when sure of victory, if not, don't attack," Ho Chi Minh had told Giap.
Refugees fleeing the war zone.
Giap recounted that new preparations were made in accordance with the changed strategy. New systems of fortifications were made, completely surrounding the French base with hundreds of kilometers of trenches "so that our fighters could wage combat both day and night under enemy bombardment". The French Expeditionary Corps had expected the Vietnamese troops to engage in all-out lightning clashes. Instead Giap preferred to destroy French pockets of resistance one at a time, choosing the timing as well as the location. The Vietnamese strategy was so successful that the French supply line to the base in Dien Bien Phu was strangled by early March. Giap wrote that when his troops opened fire on March 13, 1954, on Dien Bien Phu, the French deputy commander of the base, who was responsible for artillery, killed himself because he was powerless in stopping the heavy Vietnamese barrage.
The French watched helplessly as the mightiest points of the base fell in the face of assaults by bare-footed Vietnamese shock units. "Our system of trenches ran from the high mountains down to the plains, further sealing the fate of the base with each passing day," writes Giap. On May 7, 1954, the flag of victory was raised over the bunker of the French commander. About 10,000 enemy troops surrendered to the triumphant Vietnamese Army. At least 2,200 French soldiers were killed during the 55 days of siege. About 11,000 French soldiers were taken prisoner by the Vietnamese. There was an eleventh-hour appeal from the French for U.S. intervention. The plea was rejected by the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration. John Foster Dulles, the hawkish U.S. Secretary of State, is said to have offered two atomic bombs to the French government to stave of a military defeat. The French government politely refused that offer.
THE battle of Dien Bien Phu was a decisive moment for the Vietnamese. The French were forced to cede control of North Vietnam at the Geneva Conference that followed. The Geneva Agreement recognised the principles of independence, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Vietnam. Although the country was temporarily divided along the 17th Parallel, a vote on unification was promised in 1956.
Giap who is now more than 90 years old, said: recently that Dien Bien Phu, besides being the biggest victory over a French expeditionary force, also foiled the U.S. plan to intervene in Vietnam at that time. "It later helped liberate the capital city of Hanoi and northern Vietnam. Northern Vietnam served as a firm and decisive guerilla base for southern Vietnam in its resistance war against the American aggressors, thereafter liberating the whole country," said Giap. The period from 1945 to1954 is described in Vietnamese history books as the "first resistance". The heroic struggle of the Vietnamese people against the Americans from 1954-75 is known as the "second resistance". The lessons drawn from the struggle against the French enriched the theory and practice of Vietnamese military combat. It was put to good use during the war waged against the Vietnamese people by the U.S. The French defeat at Dien Bien Phu provided a tremendous impetus to liberation movements the world over. A small Asian country had defeated a powerful European colonial power.
Immediately after the climactic battle, the Algerian people rose in revolt against French colonial rule. It took six years for the Algerian revolution to succeed. The French colonies in West Africa also became independent by 1960. The wars in Vietnam and Algeria had exhausted the French state. In the eight years of war, France spent over two billion francs and had committed more than 450,000 troops in Indo-China.
Location: The statue of Dien Bien Phu Victory is situated atop Hill D1, Dien Bien Phu City. Characteristics: It is inaugurated in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dien Bien Phu Victory
The statue of Dien Bien Phu Victory represents the images of three Dien Bien soldiers, standing atop De Castries's bunker, looking at three directions. One of them holds a rifle, one a flag and one holding a child with a bunch of flower. The words "Resolutely fight to win" are put in the flag under the suggestion of General Vo Nguyen Giap.
The statue is made out of bronze by the Doan Ket Bronze Casting Company (Y Yen District, Nam Dinh Province). Nguyen Trong Hanh is the direct supervisor. The casting process of the 12 parts of the statue lasted 153 days until February 19th, 2004. The statue is 12.6m high (excluding the concrete pedestal, which is 3.6m high, 8m wide and 10m long). Its biggest part weighs 40 tons, the lightest 6 tons. The flag itself weighs 12 tons. The weight of bronze is 180 tons, which is equivalent to 220 tons of raw bronze material. All together, the statue weighs 360 tons.
In the morning of February 23rd, 2004, the convoy including 12 trucks of the Transport Service Company No. 2, the Heroic Unit of the Ministry of Transport, took the statue to Dien Bien Phu City. The transport faced numerous difficulties through the 600km road from Nam Dinh to Dien Bien. At noon of March 12th, 2004, the statue safely reached Dien Bien Phu. In the afternoon of April 12th, 2004, the staff of the Central Fine Arts Company finished the installation of the statue after 45 days of hard working.
Leaders remember heroes of Dien Bien Phu Victory:
VietNamNet Bridge - On the 55th anniversary of Dien Bien Phu Victory May 7, Truong Tan Sang, Politburo Member and Standing Member of the Secretariat of the Vietnam Communist Party Central Committee, led a delegation to the Dien Bien Phu Martyrs' Cemetery May 6.
Party and State leaders laid wreaths and offered incense at the memorial to commemorate the great sacrifice of those Mr. Sang, together with Party and State leaders, then paid a visit to the Dien Bien Phu Victory Monument on Hill D1 and a cluster of Dien Bien Phu historical sites, including the dugout of Christian Marie Ferdinand de la Croix de Castries, French commander at the Dien Bien Phu battle in 1954. Mr. Sang also met with the workers of the Dien Bien Cement Plant and Thanh Nua Rubber In 1954, the Dien Bien Phu campaign lasted two months and ended successfully on May 7, resulting in the Geneva Accord on restoring peace in Indochina.
In related news, a VND14 million stone monument, representing Vietnamese troops dragging heavy artillery, was erected at Xa Nhan Commune, Dien Bien District , Dien Bien Province, March . The statue is 21 meters in length, 13.5 meters in height and weighs 1,200 tons. It is the largest stone
The monument depicts 29 artillerymen dragging heavy artillery gun up a mountain trail through a forest.
The height of Dien Bien Phu victory
From perspectives of a historian, the writer analyzed and compared the victory of Dien Bien Phu with other historic events of the nation as well as of the world in the historical course, thus reaffirming the historical significance and great spiritual value of the victory (1954); at the same time, contributing to clarifying what had not been clear or misunderstood of the victory of Dien Bien Phu in the then international and regional context.
Dien Bien Phu is surrounded by mountains and lies in the Muong Thanh valley, a 20-km long and 6-km wide heart-shaped basin. The Nam Rom River runs across the valley, which is why the Dien Bien Phu valley is so fertile. After 1953, French expeditionary corps occupied Dien Bien Phu and set up a group of fortresses equipped with many state-of-the-art weapons.
The Dien Bien Phu victory created a great.