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INDO-CHINA: Massacre at Cap

3 minute read
TIME

INDOCHINA

Cap St. Jacques is the Atlantic City of Indo-China, a city of palms and black sandy beach, at the mouth of the Saigon River. There, a group of French officers on sick leave were dining one evening last week with their families. A war was going on 800 miles to the north, but none of the officers was armed, nor were their sentries. At the entrance to the dining hall, Elysabeth, Nicole, Christian and Michel, children of M. Jean Perrin, vice president of Air Viet Nam, played hide & seek.

While white-clad Vietnamese waiters served the course, a column of native soldiers in the green French Union battle-dress emerged from the jungle-covered mountain which overlooks the Cap and marched up to the lighted dining hall in columns of two. They were armed with regulation grenades and Sten guns and carried machetes. The first grenade, thrown from the kitchen, killed Bartender Tuyen instantly. Vietnamese Cook Nguyen Van Loc played dead, but a green-clad soldier poured boiling water on him, and when he squirmed, shot him. In the hallway other green-clad soldiers shot down the Perrin children, caught little Michel running away, hacked him to death with machetes. They hurled grenades and emptied Sten guns into the crowded dining room. Then they waded into the shambles, machetes swinging. After robbing the dead, they disappeared as quietly as they had come.

The killers were Communists. Wearing stolen uniforms, they were carrying out orders issued by the Central Committee of the South Viet Nam Communist Party from its secret headquarters in the swamps. The order: indiscriminate terrorism. The Communists’ aim: to frighten people from supporting the new Nguyen Van Tarn government. In the eight weeks since the government was formed, they have committed 67 murders, 87 attempted murders, and nine kidnapings. But no outrage yet matched that at the Cap St. Jacques. When French soldiers reached the dining room, they found eight officers, six children, two women and four Vietnamese servants dead and 23 wounded men, women & children. Only a lieutenant who had rolled into the blood of a dead woman to simulate death and a small boy who had hidden behind a chair remained uninjured.

Next day, before the coffins of the Cap St. Jacques victims, a French army chaplain, clenching his fists, warned the onlooking soldiery that Christian charity forbade that their vengeance be turned against innocent people. The French grimly noted that no such restraints bound their efforts to run down the guilty.

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