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BATTLE OF INDO-CHINA: Reinforcements from the Sky

2 minute read


The rain clouds which have hung low over the mountains of north Indo-China during the last three months lifted last week, and the Communist-led Viet Minh attacked. The Communist objective was to cut off the small federation of Thai states near the border of China’s Yunnan province. The Thais are loyal to the French, and 7,000 of their sturdy mountaineers make up the Northwest Tonkin Frontier Guard, one of the French Union’s crack guerrilla outfits. But the Thai states are connected with the strongly defended Red River delta country only by overland trails and water routes.

The Communists struck towards the Thai capital, Laichau, with a force of three battalions, but the Thais, supported by Algerians, drove them back. Meanwhile, the main Communist force of ten battalions was snaking through the winding river valleys to the southeast toward the town of Nghia Lo. At dawn French-manned B-26 bombers and Hellcat and Bearcat fighters were roaring off the airfields of Hanoi and Haiphong, a few minutes later were diving between the mist-shrouded peaks surrounding the Nghia Lo basin to plaster the Viet Minh troops with bombs and napalm. Over the town of Nghia Lo, C-47s and three-motored Junkers transports dropped French and Foreign Legion paratroopers, who quickly set up new defenses athwart the mountain passes. At week’s end the severely mauled Viet Minh columns pulled back.The Thais breathed easier. The big attack of the Viet Minh on the main French lines is still to come. The weather is now right for it.

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