Some excellent points are being made in this thread -
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.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.
It is indeed the 3rd company (Lientenant Trapp) of the the 6th BCCP on March 23nd, during a liaison trip to Isabelle.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.
Where can I find a copy of this movie?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.
e USAF and USN in Indochina, 1953-1955
Despite initial reluctance to aid the French in reclaiming their former colony, the US soon came to become heavily involved in supporting the war. Although overt American participation would not occur until the early '60s, a significant role was played in the waning days of French Indochina.
Aside from overt support in the form of large quantities of arms and aircraft (Bearcats and Invaders, for example), and small quantities of aircraft maintenance technicians, the first major form of American involvement in combat operations was a (somewhat) covert one. Civil Air Transport (CAT), the Nationalist China-based airline formed by Gen. Claire Chenault provided a number of American pilots to fly C-119s in support of the French forces at Dien Bien Phu. Such pilots were of course civilians, with no ties to the US government (despite the connections between the CIA and CAT).
Subsequently, the USAF became involved in providing transport for French soldiers from France to Indochina. France's limited air transport assets were stretched to the limit in Indochina, and the large numbers of new troops required to bolster the flagging effort on the ground simply could not be quickly transferred to the theatre. The answer came in the form of American C-124 Globemaster IIs, flying the long haul from France. Flights in support of the French continued until 1955.
Dien Bien Phu nearly provided the spark for initiating full American involvement in the war. Numerous planning sessions were held in Washington for a possible airstrike on the Viet Minh positions in the hills surrounding DBP, or the lines of support beyond the valley. Options went as far as a possible atomic bomb strike on the Viet Minh command, and possible into China. A massive conventional strike using B-29s of BombCom, the Pacific based Bomber Command, incorporating elements of the 19th, 98th and 307th BW and the 91st SRS was seriously considered. Cover for the strike was to have been provided by Navy jets flying of carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin. Such cover was necessary in light of the possibility of intervention by Chinese MiGs. Eventually these plans, known collectively as operation Vulture (Vautour) came to nothing, as the US demanded international cooperation as a condition of its involvement, and the British in particular felt that such a strike would have little effect on the final outcome of the war. It appears that rumours of B-29s with French roundels in the Pacific bases are unfounded.
Although the airstrike never came to fruition, USN aircraft did fly reconnaissance missions in support of the possible strike, and forces on the ground at DBP reported sighting jet contrails high in the sky. From March to April 1954, the USS Essex and Wasp flew numerous sorties in the Gulf of Tonkin. In May, the USS Phillipine Sea took up position in what was to later become Yankee Station, while the USS Boxer took part in operations from March to June 1954.
The operations of CAT are well detailed in William Leary's Perilous Missions. Christopher Robbins' Air America also provides a chapter on CAT operations, though with nowhere near the thoroughness of Leary. The best reference on Operation Vulture that I have found is John Prados' The Sky Would Fall.