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[1,999,004] M24 Chaffee French army in Vietnam [1,999,006]

Vietnam in the twentieth century was part of French Indochina. The first French tanks were still there in December 1919. These were two platoons of light Renault FT-17, to place in Saigon and Hanoi. Because the machines faced a long service in a tropical climate, wooden rails were replaced with steel wheels to them.

The Second World. In the 41 th year, when France was already defeated, the Japanese drove the remnants of colonial pieces, and Vietnam was in their hands. Good life of the new “owners” did not work: they had to fight against the Vietminh – the League of Independence of Vietnam, led by the famous Ho Chi Minh City. After Japan crashed during the Second World War, the Viet Minh was able to release most of northern Vietnam.

In the fall of ’45 the French troops came from the mother to return everything to normal. But the Vietnamese had already conquered a taste of independence and comply with the former overseas masters did not want to.

Seek the wind in the jungle

The discord between the Viet Minh and the French in the past, it would have been an advantage. Something which, while they lacked technique. French tanks “Gochkiss” Japanese trophy “Ha-Go” and “Yi Kuo” lend-lease “Chaffee” and “Sherman”. Plus, armored personnel carriers, self-propelled guns and amphibious machines, essential in fighting in the rice fields and marshes. Also widely used armored vehicles burst artisanal – the French are not lazy armor cover up trucks and jeeps.

According to specialists, the use of tanks in Vietnam was a continuous headache

Tanks perfectly proved to be in the jungle against the Japanese. They have successfully crushed their defense from Burma to New Guinea. However, in the opinion of American experts, the use of French Indochina was a continuous headache. Because the Japanese were strangers in the jungle, their garrisons in the Pacific Islands has been relatively easy to cut, and then just flatten superior forces. But the Vietnamese were fighting a lot more, and for them the jungle was a native home. French and American regular units that could not boast.

No matter how trying the French cut by the Vietminh supply them almost never succeed. No wonder, when you consider that within some operations they had to throw power at a distance equal to the way from Seoul to Tokyo. This is only one platoon of infantry armored personnel carriers require a lot more resources than the same amount of walking Vietnamese bearing the supply of rice for four days and weighed while half the average European.

The French had no one bulldozer on a tank chassis to wade through the jungle. The usual “civilian” bulldozer was vulnerable even sniper bullets. While the French mechanized columns were dragged by the few blurry and winding roads, hiking Vietnamese, following the principle of “normal heroes always go around”, cut short cut through the jungle. And often on foot managed to overtake the French. But the Vietnamese rear was strong not only porters. Up to three hundred kilograms of cargo can be transported bikes. Gradually appeared and Soviet-made trucks – by the end of the war they are used about 800

No tanks or amphibious or airborne assault did not help the French troops to encircle and destroy the Viet Minh. Most often, they have time to leave early or slip through the gaps in the encirclement. Some units sacrificed themselves, covering the retreat of others. Losing is many times more people than the French, Vietnam gradually winning the war.

full-scale rout

The position of the French became a strategic stalemate in 1949, when the Chinese army withdrew to the borders with Vietnam. Now Vietnamese soldiers were able to rest and to train in the Chinese territory. In 1953 ended the war in Korea, so that the Soviet Union and China could still pay attention to Vietnam, helping him fight the “colonial oppression”.

China and Vietnam generously shared their trophies: 105-mm howitzers, recoilless rifles, mortars and bazookas. USSR also did not lag behind in deliveries, sent to Vietnam, even rocket launchers. In addition, the Vietnamese themselves learned to make weapons, until the rockets and heavy mortars.

Как Франция потеряла Вьетнам
ACS M8 in Vietnam, 1951 [1,999,006]

The French troops were scattered hundreds of forts. In the evening, December 9, 1951 the fort garrison Tu-Vu – three hundred Moroccans and five tanks – was attacked by a large force Vietminh. In theory, the position of the French were well fortified and would keep the enemy. The trouble was that they shared half sleeve of the river, which also prevented the sending of reinforcements.

After a forty-minute artillery barrage Vietnamese, shouting “Tien flax!” (“Forward!”), Rushed to the wire. French tanks to a minimum lowered the barrels of guns, meeting with fire and attacked by caterpillars. On a tiny patch of open countryside near the checkpoint tanks were like chained elephants. Vietnamese, losing dozens of people, literally climbed on the tanks tried to thrust in the trunk of incendiary grenades and fired at the sight slots. In the end, the tanks have been shot at close range from bazookas. All the crew were killed, along with their machines.

On the narrow roads mined French convoys again and again came under fire at close range – the attackers were hiding just off the road in the dense thickets of elephant grass up to several meters in height. Armored vehicles knocked out of bazookas and using bottles with gasoline, infantry pinned to the ground by fire. And then the attackers systematically destroyed trapped trucks. So in 1954, it was defeated by the French mobile group 100. Despite the heroism of the drivers who were already before the end of the burning trucks to block the road are not comrades, the band lost all their artillery, 85% of the equipment, including armored vehicles and several hundred people were killed.

Как Франция потеряла Вьетнам
Vietnamese raise the flag over Dien Bien Phu

The symbol of the war, especially its finale, the battle of Dien Bien Phu was. The French wanted to create a fortified base from which to keep the surrounding areas under attack. The idea was logical, but it is not flexible. The result was exactly the opposite. The base was under attack disguised in the caves of heavy guns and rocket launchers. The situation repeated itself with fortifications, attacked earlier. Only now the Vietnamese forces were even more, and the place of the battle – even more remote.

The Vietnamese are well prepared, they paved road through the jungle and the mountains, they are perfectly camouflaged. Any attempt to establish a supply of Dien Bien Phu in the air ran across the shelling 37-mm anti-aircraft guns. The French on the whole of Indochina had a hundred transport aircraft C-47, so that any loss was painful. And in any case, to transport the necessary amounts of goods with the help of so meager number of vehicles was difficult. Somehow I managed to bring through the air and collect on the spot a little bit of light tanks and armored personnel carriers. But they just did not have enough fuel. May 7, 1954 the fort fell, “Isabel”, the last point of resistance in Dien Bien Phu.

July 21, 1954 in Geneva, an agreement was signed on the complete withdrawal of the French from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The dominance of the French in Indochina over, but peace in the region will not occur. A new war began just a few years.

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