For many people,
Dien Bien Phu is always in the mind of the Vietnamese as well as many other
worldwide, a great marking point of Vietnam in 1954, broke the French efforts
in sieging Vietnam and Indochina.
At the start of April there was a lull in the fighting during which Navarre parachuted in some of his crack troops adding to his garrison now totalling about 16,000. Giap also brought in his reserves, edging his forces up towards the 50,000 mark. The French were desperate and they appealed to the US for assistance, preferring bomber strikes from their bases in the Philippines. By this stage the US was funding 78% of the French war effort, so they hardly had unstained hands. They came back with a proposal for limited tactical nuclear strikes on the Vietnamese positions along with a series of strikes on China, fearing ‘another Korea’, all of which would be performed on French behalf. Thankfully this insanity was avoided by the British giving the idea a big no and congress getting cold feet. In the end there was nothing forthcoming from the US.
For the French, the end was near. On 4 May following a series of attacks, the Viet Minh attacked with a force previously unwitnessed and by 8 May the garrison finally surrended. By this stage the conditions within were unimaginable, with maggots in the wounds of the injured and an incredibly demoralised fighting force. It was estimated that during the battle 7,000 French and close to 20,000 Vietnamese had lost their lives. This loss finally caused the French to withdraw from Vietnam.
Dien Bien Phu now bears few scars except for the occasional scattered tank to bear witness to its horrendous past, though it is still one of the remotest areas you could visit. The hilltribes living around the area of Dien Bien Phu make up 70% of the regions population, and the ethnic minority groups include the Black Thai, Nung, Meo, Loa and other