Dien Bien Phu war cemetary, northern Vietnam 

For those with an interest in the history of Vietnam’s struggle for independence, Dien Bien Phu is the site of an historic major battle in 1954 between the freedom fighters of Vietnam, under the leadership of Vietnamese hero General Giap, and the French occupiers of Indochina.

With this hard won and costly victory over the French, the Vietnamese succeeded in setting in motion the events which led to the longed for withdrawal of French forces from Indochina just ten months later, securing the revival of nationhood for the Vietnamese people, after over a century long bitter struggle with the forces of colonialism.

Rejoicing over the victory at Dien Bien Phu would be short-lived however, and following the negotiated peace settlement in Geneva, the country found itself divided both physically and politically between the communist north and anti-communist south, an inadequate solution that would lead inexorably to civil war.  

The resultant ever-increasing involvement of the USA in its continuing interventionist insistence in defining ‘acceptable’ political structures, through providing military aid to the south, would lead to the one of the world’s most famous wars, the useless futility of which would cause enormous loss of life to both sides and disgraceful environmental damage, as America unleashed its vast arsenal of conventional and chemical weaponry upon a largely agrarian population. 

The battle of Dien Bien Phu is ably described in the town’s museum, with its eclectic collection of weaponry from the time, and provides a fascinating insight into the battle.

The adjacent Viet Minh cemetery commemorates the fallen, and Hill A1 hosts a reconstructed bunker from the era, supplemented with views over the battlefield, where the rusting remains of tanks and other weapons still lie as a testament to one of the most historically poignant battles of the twentieth century.

French war treches, Dien Bien Phu, northern Vietnam
 

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