Monday, February 1, 2016
Some extracts and commentary from the book: "HUBRIS THE TRAGEDY OF WAR IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY" by Alistair Horne.
1. The French defeat at Dien Bien Phu.
* De Castries, commanding the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu [DBP] was no stranger to battle. The man did have a distinguished World War Two combat record.
* "It is not correct to speak only of 'French' defenders. Many in fact were foreign legionnaires of whom the majority were Germans escaping from the debacle of the previous war at home. In addition, there were substantial numbers of colonial Algerian tirailleurs, who fought with varying degrees of determination in what was for them an unpopular war."
That predominant number of personnel defending DBP not Frenchmen as that word Frenchmen normally, ordinarily and commonly understood. The DBP garrison, those combat contingents consisting primarily of French Foreign Legion soldiers, colonial troops and friendly Indo-Chinese. A French conscript during that period could NOT HAVE BEEN COMPELLED to serve in Indo-China.
* No mention of Na San. From one year earlier also a deliberate siege, the French emerging victorious from what was for them a strictly defensive battle, the Viet Minh sustaining heavy casualties. Taken in a vacuum DBP makes little sense. Taken within the context of Na San DBP makes perfect sense.
* As noted by Mr. Horne: ("that whereas during the 167 day of siege at Dien Bien Phu the total number of air sorties was 10,400, in 1966, during the Second Vietnam War, the weekly American total alone often exceeded 25,000.")
Air defense assets of the Viet Minh at DBP also quite formidable. Even if more air sorties of all types available, aircraft on missions having to fly higher and faster, their ability to deliver with accuracy on target ordnance of supplies that much more limited!
* "Instead of the 25,000 shells that French intelligence had assessed were all Giap's transport could bring up, 350,000 had fallen on the garrison."
NOT ONLY many more shells but rounds fired of larger caliber too. That number of artillery as employed by the Viet Minh at DBP to include Soviet mortars of 120 mm or larger.
Regarding the topic of Dien Bien Phu see previous blog entries: