These Vietnam War extracts are all taken from Rock’n’Roll Unravelled and tell the story of the Vietnam War.
7 May 1954: Dien Bien Phu … goodbye France and hello America
Vietnam became a French Colony in the late 19th century. In 1940 France lost control to Japan, after surrendering to Germany in the Second World War. In 1941 the communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh organised the Viet Minh as a nationalist force to fight the Japanese for Vietnam’s independence. After Japan and Germany were defeated in 1945, France tried to re-establish its colonial control of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh simply saw the French as the new army of occupation and continued his struggle. Thus began nearly a decade of conflict between French troops and the revolutionary forces of the Viet Minh.
This struggle culminated in the final battle at Dien Bien Phu. The Vietnamese attack on the French position started on 13 March. Fierce fighting continued, until the French were forced to surrender on 7 May.
Shortly after Ho Chi Minh’s victory, the Geneva Agreement divided Vietnam at the 17th Parallel, creating North and South Vietnam as two separate entities.
At the time of Dien Bien Phu, America was bankrolling France’s attempt to subdue the forces of Ho Chi Minh. When France withdrew from Vietnam, America stepped up its involvement by sending in military advisers and funding South Vietnam’s war against the North. America’s motivation was its fear of the “domino effect”. This was the belief that if Vietnam fell to communism, then the rest of South East Asia would surely follow suit.
To be continued…