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Very interesting site. I've researched the battle/siege some in the past. They need to make a movie.
 

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I should have worded that differently. I'm sure, there have been many movies based, or loosely based on that battle. I meant American movie. Is the French movie any good? Is it subtitled? I'd rather read subtitles, than listen to people speaking English, with French accents. I read somewhere, that over half of the Foreign Legion troops that were there, were ex Wehrmacht.
 

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Never mind about the movie. I googled it, and watched some of it. The sound track alone is enough make you puke.
 

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The director was actually at Dien Bien Phu and captured. Most foriegn legion were not ex-wermacht but younger germans. I've been to Hanoi and the battle sites and the music is fitting. Its a French battle and culture not an American.

Sent from my SGH-T999 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
I should have worded that differently. I'm sure, there have been many movies based, or loosely based on that battle. I meant American movie. Is the French movie any good? Is it subtitled? I'd rather read subtitles, than listen to people speaking English, with French accents. I read somewhere, that over half of the Foreign Legion troops that were there, were ex Wehrmacht.
- The movie made by Pierre Schoendoerffer is not a Hollywood movie, granted , it was made on a "shoe string" budget, although the Vietnamese government supplied 5000 soldiers to act as Vietminh troops and the French Government supplied a company of paratroopers from the 11eDP to act and do the jump shots. The Director, Schoendoerffer, was a Dien Bien Phu veterant, as Army photographer he was there in 1954.


- Regarding the myth about the prevalence of ex Nazis in the French Foreign Legion, here is the opinion of an expert on the subject (Bernard Fall was a recognized authority on the history of the Indochina War and its French Foreign Legion involvment):

Excerpt from Bernard Fall's book "Hell in a Very Small Place : the Siege of Dien Bien Phu" published in 1966 a year before he was killed in Vietnam.

P 439 :
...../Contrary to the accepted myth that the Foreign Legion was made up largely of "former SS troopers," many of the Foreign Legionnaires came from the East European countries overrun by the Soviet armies in 1945. (since the average age of the Foreign Legionnaire was about 23 in 1954, most of them had been small boys in 1945.)

P 451 :
...../Lastly, there is the myth of Dien Bien Phu as a "German battle," in which the Germans were said to "indeed made up nearly half of the French forces."
...../On March 12, 1954 - the day before the battle began in earnest - there were a total of 2,969 Foreign Legionnaires in the fortress, out of a garrison of 10,814. Of the almost 4,300 parachuted reinforcements, a total of 962 belonged to the Foreign Legion. Even if one wrongly assumes (there were important Spanish and Eastern European elements among the Legionnaires at Dien Bien Phu) that 50% of the Legionnaires were German, then only 1,900 men out of more than 15,000 who participated in the battle could have been of German origin. But old myths, particularly when reinforced by prejudice, die hard.

kelt
 

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Picked up a book on The FFL ,titled, "The Damned Die Hard", about the history of the FFL. Also picked up these flags, years ago, from a guy who got them in VN. The book is a good read and one I kept for future re-reading. Dien Bien Phu, is a classic case of The US promising the world to someone and abandoning them when it seemed to be politically expedient. Ike had seen too much war , I guess, to want to step in and save someone. He had a change of heart by 1958 and was actively supporting SVN ,with "advisors" .The whole VN thing was screwed from the beginning after WW2 by Truman and his advisors, who saw a "Commie" behind every rock. What we have today is someone who seems to be afraid of his own shadow and we are abandoning our friends around the globe , to tinpot dictators who we will eventually have to deal with, only on a stronger scale. Just MHO, BB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Very unusual flags, perhaps a local South Vietnam re-fabrication from memory.

- On the 1st flag, the colours are vertically inversed the green being on the flagpole side usually (not always), the airborn insigna is out of place there since there were no airborn units in the 13e DBLE and only 2 batalions of Paratrooper from the Foreign legion, 1st BEP and 2nd BEP they sported a paratrooper brevet insigna on their flag, not the béret insigna.

- On the2nd flag, colours are vertically correct but horizontally wrong, full green side should be on the pole side (not always), the flaming grenade looks funny the real flaming grenade has "panaches of flammes".

Don't feel bad about US politicians, the French politicians had given up on Indochina as early as the end of 1952 leaving the Army there with conflicting instructions and unsufficient support, They needed a good reason to disengage, they got Dien Bien Phu.

In July of 1954, 2 month after the fall of Dien Bien Phu, the CEFEO was at its ever strongest, all the DBP losses human and material had been replaced by units coming from France but it was only a show of strength to get the négociations going on a better footing, the French government had no will to fight there anymore.

kelt
 

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Poorly written books account for many mistruths on this battle. Some of those posting suffer accordingly due to this.

Kelt was kind: the flags are not mistakes nor flawed , they fakes and right out of War Market in Saigon. Every Tourist a sucker and every sucker a Tourist: the market loves Tourists.

If you read and comprehend English , the definitive book on the battle in this language is " The Last Valley". I would suggest you find the book, its quite thick and well done. It sets to record what happened and it kills off a ton of BS.

If you go to the valley, take this book. If you take Bernard Falls book...the sketches are hopelessly flawed of battle
positions. I have 14 days on the ground there, Bernards book is near useless.

By the way Kelt, what is this about a tunnel at Strongpoint Beatrice? If you can indeed confirm that, I will hunt for it
on my next and last trip to DBU.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Poorly written books account for many mistruths on this battle. Some of those posting suffer accordingly due to this.

Kelt was kind: the flags are not mistakes nor flawed , they fakes and right out of War Market in Saigon. Every Tourist a sucker and every sucker a Tourist: the market loves Tourists.

If you read and comprehend English , the definitive book on the battle in this language is " The Last Valley". I would suggest you find the book, its quite thick and well done. It sets to record what happened and it kills off a ton of BS.

If you go to the valley, take this book. If you take Bernard Falls book...the sketches are hopelessly flawed of battle
positions. I have 14 days on the ground there, Bernards book is near useless.

By the way Kelt, what is this about a tunnel at Strongpoint Beatrice? If you can indeed confirm that, I will hunt for it
on my next and last trip to DBU.
The only offensive tunnel I heard off is under Eliane 2 where a 1,5 Ton TNT mine was detonated ont the night of May 5th, the defenders had heard the digging noises of the tunnelling but lacked manpower to counter act.

In 1955, one year and two moosoon after the battle, French Officers, vétérans of DBP with their field memory and all the available field maps were sent to mark the graves of French soldiers for exhumation, they already had a hard time locating a few mass graves the fast growing vegetation and crumbling trenches made the task very difficult and the mission was aborted (although an agreement of the peace agreement), the recovery of French casualties was not carried out then thanks to the bureaucratic nightmare of the Vietminh organisation.
 

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One of the interesting battles I have studied. I was a history major and wrote my senior thesis on the battle. I will always admire those paratroopers that decided to drop late in the battle knowing the odds to help out their brothers-in-arms.
 

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With all the Time and Effort the Vietminh spent moving cannon and ammo into the surrounding hills....I have always wondered what the outcome would have been had the French Abandoned DBP ....leaving the Vietminh with nothing to shoot at...and all that effort wasted

The French moving to another location

 

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Buddy, you'd gain from this book The Last Valley.

De Castries could have done that in December and it would have merely been another Na San.
The decision to stay as intelligence mounted that 4 Divisions were closing in has to be one of
the most flawed in modern military history.

One only has to stand on the reconstructed command bunker (now a tourist site) of De Castries,
do a 360 degree sweep of the situation, reflect you only have 12 battalions and are soon to be
hit with 4 Divisions and the overwhelming reality hits you. Any Colonel would have concluded this
can't be defended and would have fallen on his sword to make that point clear to Hanoi & Saigon.
That De Castries did not, is criminal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
With all the Time and Effort the Vietminh spent moving cannon and ammo into the surrounding hills....I have always wondered what the outcome would have been had the French Abandoned DBP ....leaving the Vietminh with nothing to shoot at...and all that effort wasted

The French moving to another location



In November/December 1952, the French built in a month a strong hold at Na San to cut off the Vietminh access to Laos and its rice crop, the Vietminh using human waves infantry without sufficient artillery backup failed suffering heavy losses inflicted by the French artillery and air support.

The Na San stronghold was evacuated by air in less than a week in the summer of 1953, taking the surrounding Vietminh forces by surprise, their preparation for a 2nd attempt to overtake Na San were wasted indeed, but they learned a lesson there, next time around at DBP they came prepaired, with a large and efficient artillery (howizers, heavy mortars and katiusha) and heavy (37mm guns) anti-aircraft coverage.

kelt
 

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Kelt: Absolutely the case. The Lessons Learned on Na San got pushed aside by Navarre and the rest is
history ... enter Dien Bien Phu.

Just a parting shot here: If one takes the time and effort to meticulously walk every strong point, then walking the
terrain as the Viet Minh attacked those strong points, you will be amazed at the defensive positions of the French.
Defending a valley floor....go try looking that up in any military's doctrine...don't exist. Go to Dien Bien Phu , take a hard look on the ground. If you have any military background and know Infantry tactics and the weaponry of the era: the French did a helluva job defending ! I did this, I have deep Infantry background and I was impressed at the Infantry defense the French put in place.

To overcome a defense the enemy needs a 3: 1 ratio. The Viet Minh had 4: 1 . You really have to have your stuff together in an Infantry defense to deny a 4:1 force ratio as the French did. Outstanding NCO leadership makes such a difference.
 

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A Very Brief rundown of the battle....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Dien_Bien_Phu


American participation

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 transport 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, James McGovern, Jr. and Wallace Buford, were killed in action during the siege of Dien Bien Phu. On 25 February 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 Kirsinger researched the case for more than a year to establish the facts." French author Jules Roy suggests Admiral Radford discussed with the French the possibility of using nuclear weapons in support of the French garrison. Moreover, John Foster Dulles reportedly mentioned the possibility of lending atomic bombs to the French for use at Dien Bien Phu,[84] and a similar source claims then British Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden was aware of the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons in that region.



 

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A poor position. Also, like Stalingrad, it became a battle for the airfields, once they were lost, resupply became nearly impossible. My reading of military history has convinced me that to withstand a siege you cannot depend on outside resupply and the supply depots have to built up a long time before. Also makes me think of the Boer War/2nd South African War. Once the British seized the strategic initiative and were able to force the Boers to defend, they deprived them of their greatest asset, their mobility.
 
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