French Marines on the beach after landing in Indochina circa 1950, English troops rush to helicopters in 1967, Massacre of My Lai by French Foreign Legion soldiers in 1968, an American soldier marches near a burning village circa 1964
17 February 1950 - 30 April 1970 (20 years, two months, 14 days)
Mainly Indochina, with spillover in Southern China
Formation of the Republic of Lan Xang Vietnam is split into the WDF-backed Kingdom of Vietnam and the Thai-backed Democratic Republic of Vietnam
World Defense Federation:
Kingdom of Vietnam
Democratic Republic of Vietnam
Empire of Japan
Da Nang Government
Ia Drang Government
Republican Chinese Empire
Chinese-Vietnamese Volunteer Army
Empire of Siam
Republic of Lan Xang
Republic of California
Empire of Russia
Republic of Australia and New Zealand
Nationalist Association of States:
Greater French Republic
French Indochinese Loyalist Army
Vietnamese Nationalist Volunteer Army
Republic of England and Wales
Union of American States
Republic of South Africa
Kingdom of Canada
Republic of Iberia
Commanders and leaders
Ho Chih Mihn
Hoàng Văn Thái Trần Văn Trà Nguyễn Văn Linh Nguyễn Hữu Thọ Võ Nguyên Giáp Souphanouvong Son Ngoc Minh Ngô Đình Diệm Nguyễn Văn Thiệu Nguyễn Cao Kỳ Cao Văn Viên Ngô Quang Trưởng Lê Duẩn Văn Tiến Dũng Lê Trọng Tấn Phạm Văn Đồng Hirohito Hideki Tojo Tadamichi Kuribayashi Takeichi Nishi ...and others
Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque
Jean-Étienne Valluy Roger Blaizot François Talon Jean de Lattre de Tassigny Raoul Salan Henri Navarre Nguyễn Văn Hinh Hoàng Xuân Lãm Lê Nguyên Khang Ngo Quang T Ole Bangstad Harold MacMillan Frederick Weyand Bathalazar Vorster ...and others
Casualties and losses
Military Total killed: ~3,255,972 Total wounded: ~3,973,194 Total POW: ~1,743,996 Military Grand Total: ~8,973,162 Civilian Total killed: ~1,503,992 Total wounded: ~1,309,117 Civilian Grand Total: ~2,813,109 Combined Grand Total: ~11,786,271
Military Total killed: ~3,789,302 Total wounded: ~5,290,117 Total POW: ~1,409,775 Military Grand Total: ~10,489,194 Civilian Total killed: ~632,127 Total wounded: ~593,112 Civilian Grand Total: ~1,225,239 Combined Grand Total: ~11,714,433
The Indochina War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Đông Dương, Lao: ແຫຼັມອິນດູຈີນສົງຄາມ, Khmer: សង្គ្រាមឥណ្ឌូចិន), also known as the War of Liberation (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Giải phóng, Lao: ສົງຄາມຂອງການເປີດເສລີ, Khmer: សង្រ្គាមនៃការរំដោះ) in Lang Xang and Vietnam, and known as the Traitor's War (French: Guerre des Traîtres) in France, was a Cold War-era proxy war that took place in French Indochina and southern China from the Prison Break of Ho Chi Minh on 17 February 1950 until the Fall of the Mekong Perimeter on 30 April 1970. This war was fought between the World Defense Federation-supported Indochinese rebels and the Greater French Republic and their loyalist armies. The Kingdom of Vietnam, Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Republic of Lan Xang were Chinese and Thai established nations, respectively, with indigenous leaders who fought on the side of the Viet Mihn rebels against the French and French Indochinese governments. The Japanese, Siamese and Republic Chinese Empires also committed a large amount of troops, rations, equipment, and other supplies to help the Indochinese rebels against the French.
During the course of the war, the Indochinese loyalists began to lose faith in the French government and began defecting to the Viet Mihn and/or Kingdom of Vietnam and Vietnamese DR. The World Defense Federation and their allies relied largely on search-and-destroy operations, carpet bombing, aerial assaults, as well as guerrilla warfare to push the French out of Indochina.
The Empire of Japan and most of the other WDF members viewed their involvement in the Indochina War as a way to prevent the spread of fascist, ultra-nationalist ideologies throughout the world. The Republican Chinese Empire and Siamese Empire viewed their involvement as a way to spread their influence and eventually take over Indochina. The French viewed the war as a "traitorous move" by their former allies and were trying to preserve their territorial integrity and glory.
The Landing: 1950-1953
The French in Indochina were peaceful colonial rulers. A Colonial Guard of 100,000 managed the colony since WWIIs end in 1947. The French, however, often treated the Indochinese laborers working on the rubber plantations like dirt. A communist sympathizer, and a man trained by the Japanese, Ho Chi Minh began speaking out against French rule. He was arrested for protesting against French rule in Hanoi. Then a worker riot in 1949 was blown to hell by colonial guardsmen, Ho Chi Minh was released. Not only after people threatened to blow up the Hanoi police station. Minh in the jungles of the north trained up the "Viet Minh". In February of 1950, they struck and bombed a police station in Dok To. On February 17th, 1950, President Leclerc announced on state TV that these attacks would not be tolerated. So he sent in 200,000 extra French soldiers to the colony. President Leclerc promised the troops and people that they would be home by Christmas. The French occupied major cities along the coast and in Vietnam, Hanoi, Saigon, and Hue. The French navy bombarded rebel held villages on the coast into the campaign. The first real French troops landed outside the airbases dotting the seaboard. The Haiphong Incident was the first real battle between the French and the VM. A French Naval Bombardment which killed 6000 civilians in one afternoon to try to root out the VM from the area would show the brutality of the white soldiers. The Viet Minh brought up 30,000 men into the fray as the French Marines landed under a hail of shell fire. The battle raged with ferocity. But thanks to the French superior weapons and naval support forced the VM into the hills. The Viet Minh continued to fan out from the cities into the hills. French forces launched strike teams into the hills to route out opposition. Operation: Lea was a partial success in mid-1951 in which the French destroyed the main VM communications center at Bac Kan. They did, however, fail to capture Ho Chi Minh himself and his commanders. French forces reported the VM had 9000 casualties during the operation which if true would have represented a huge loss for the insurgency. 1952 is when the French started to take the rebellion seriously. The French sought out political means from its allies. English and German supplies flowed to French troops, German chocolate rations and American tobacco as alleviated the troops but French also needed diplomatic support. The French formed a puppet government known as the French Protectorate of Vietnam. Under the leadership of former emperor Bao Dai the French recruited some 10,000 locals with promises of freedom, money and power in the first year of "Automization" alone. 1952 then saw France "recognizing the freedom of the Vietnam Protectorate". 1952 is also when the French Foreign Legion appeared in Indochina. These men fought with distinction and courage and fought VM attacks into Dong Khe and Cao Bang in November and October.Lang Son was attacked while the French where retreating on Route 4 even though a relief force was coming from That Khe. Lang Son despite the valor the FFL had fell on October 17th after a week on intense fighting. By that time what remained of the French force had settled in the safty of the Red River Delta. 4800 French troops had been killed along with 79 Vietnamese soldiers. This battle also marked the first time napalm was used in combat in Indochina. Using the French carrier Normandie, French Vautor fighter/bomber aircraft delivered the fire bombs with precision strikes with explosions occurring meters from the troops. At this time in winter 1952, Japan, Russia, and China all recognized Ho Chi Minh as the legitimate ruler of Vietnam. 1953 would be the last "peaceful" year in Indochina. The French were getting clever by this point in the brutal conflict. The FFL with 6000 soldiers lured over 20,000 Viet Minh soldiers into an attack at Vinh Yen. The FFL commander, John Halvis from Quebecois controlled New England from claimed it was a "Turkey Shoot". 8000 VM laid dead with the FFL smiling at their "prize". The response to this slaughter was the Battle of the Day River in May. Viet Minh troops coming from Phu Ly and Ninh Binh drove the 320th French infantry division from Phat Diem to the Day River in which commander de Lattre launched a demoralizing counter offensive. November of 1953 saw the beginning of the escalation. The French landed Paratroopers in a small town named Dien Bien Phu.
Search and Destroy: 1954-1958
The French commanders in Indochina had come up with a new strategy to win the war against the Viet Minh. The tactic known as "Jungle Leapfrog" was the theory of dropping troops behind enemy lines. With enough food and equipment, they could cause massive destruction of the enemy therefore winning the war. The first attempt was at Diem Bien Phu. French paratroopers set up an airfield and artillerymen set up the fire bases. Overconfident French commanders believing the VM couldn't amass thousands of men and haul heavy guns up hills for an attack light supplied the base with reinforcements. FFL and other French soldiers were also gleaming with confidence that they could slaughter the VM. But then on March 13th, 1954, the first Viet Minh artillery shells landed in on the perimeter of the base. The beginning of the escalation had started. President Leclerc announced over State TV that he was sending 600,000 soldiers to Indochina to "crush the revolt against the legitimate government of the Vietnamese Protectorate". Operation: Stone Fish as it was called, saw the landing of some of these forces in southern Vietnam. Under General Francois Talon, French forces were to withdraw to a area known as the Mekong Perimeter. It was also at this time that several countries announced unilateral support for France. The UAS, England, and Scandinavia all sent troops. Summer 1954 saw the influx of 900,000 fascist soldiers into Indochina. In the FPV, the devoted catholic Ngo Dinh Diem had taken power. He empathized working with the French to "defeat communism". The Vietnamese recruits by 1955 numbered some 300,000 soldiers. However many were undisciplined and couldn't handle the stress of battle well. The South was effectively quarantined from the rebel held north. A separate government in Laos sprang up, aligned to Ho Chi Minh. The so-called "Ho Chi Minh Trail" was a series of roads and paths leading from the north into the FVP. Operation: Siege was launched to try and cut these lines. It succeeded but the VM quickly rebuilt the roads. That's why American Air General Stanley Henderson proposed Operation: Dynamite, the strategic bombing campaign of the trail. It's said more bombs would be dropped on the trail than in all of WWII. In the rebel controlled north, a democratic republic was declared. Thousands of Vietnamese Catholics fled to the south. 1956 was seen as a lull in the fighting. Only sparse fighting in the countryside took place with the constant harassment of French aircraft by VM anti-aircraft weapons supplied by Japan. It was at this point in late 1956 and early 1957 that the WDF decided to act. Secretly under dusk in Winter of 1956, several hundred thousand Japanese and Chinese soldiers marched into northern Indochina. General Ishii Yamada was assigned to the Indochina Expeditionary Force. It was also at this tie that the first casualties to French chemical weapons were a squad of Japanese troops pinned down in Cambodia. The French used mustard gas on a large scale. This weapon was a favorite of UAS soldiers who deployed special gas grenades into dugouts and Viet Minh tunnels. English General Harold Alexander proposed to General Talon, the use of "Air Cavalry". As deployed during the last days of the British Empire in the 1950s as rogue British soldiers used helicopters in Malaya against the MPA. Other forces to use this tactic was a small South African force of 10,000 men. In South African history, the Indochina conflict would become known as Grensoorlog, bush war. The Americans in 1958 would change the Ariel theater of the war by introducing Thunderhead helicopters. Thunderheads - otherwise known as Huey's - were the best helicopter-type aircraft the fascist powers fielded.
A New Decade:1959-1964
The war by now was a slug fest. The French continued to pour weapons into the region. General Talon in 1959 was assigned three new accompanying commanders. Harold MacMillan from England, Frederick Weyand from the UAS, and Ole Bangstad from Scandinavia. 1959 also saw Operation: Moat, the invasion of Laos to save the Laotian Democratic Front. The commander who would lead the forces into battle was the incompetent Bathalazar Vorster from South Africa (who would later be captured during the Great South African War). The Fascist attacked. The VM fought hard with conventional tactics along with Japanese and Chinese forces. A tank battle would break out in central Laos. The Fascist would win this due to the inferiority of Japanese tanks. Some Russian vehicles would be used but the only T-34 would be destroyed by French M36 Jacksons, a tank destroyer manufactured after French tankers found these tank destroyers were much better than the Panhards they had.