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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #23 · (Edited)
X2 the recommendation for Martin Windrow's "The Last Valley". Having read the works of Fall, Simpson, and others, I found Windrow's to be far and above the rest, both in detail and insight.
The most complete book in French on the subject is "Pourquoi Dien bien Phu" written by Colonel Pierre Rocolle in 1968, he beneficiated from access to the then locked military archives and had direct discussions with most of the "junior decision makers" who led the battle when the actual top commanders had (way to late) relented control of the battle to the batallion commanders who fought it.

Martin Windrow's book "The last valley" (2004) is a good work of historian, it beneficiated from the numerous sources already published on the subject including the military archives.
The cover of Windrow's book is a picture taken by SCA photographer Jean Peraud, in march 1954 during the battle, here is another picture from the same event showing the walking fire tactic evolved from the CSRG 15.

kelt
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Kelt,

By this time in the battle, my guess that this photo is of 6th BCP or 8th Assault > they appear to be the only ones
wearing the Sausage Skin aka Brit Windproof 1944 camo uniforms , everyone else having gone over to Model 1947/52 camo uniforms. If pressed to put money on it, I say this is 6th BCP in the attack.
It is indeed the 3rd company (Lientenant Trapp) of the the 6th BCCP on March 23nd, during a liaison trip to Isabelle.
 
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