Monument in memory of the victory of Dien Bien Phu Campaign
Hill A1 is located in Muong Thanh ward, Dien Bien Phu city, Dien Bien province. Though the war is over, there remain a number of historical vestiges that provide visitors with vivid evidence of the sacrifice and courage of Vietnamese troops who devoted their youth and even their lives to the national independence and freedom and of Vietnamese’ undaunted combat spirit.


Back to 1954, Hill A1, lying in the east of the Command Post of the Dien Bien Phu Strongholds, had two peaks: the Northwest and the Southeast at their heights of over 493m and 490m, respectively. From the hill tops, one could have an overall view of the Dien Bien hollow. Therefore, in terms of military, Hill A1 was the most important entrenched fortification of hills in the east. It was tasked to guard the Command Post. Together with other hills, it formed a shield to defend the central part of Muong Thanh.

French troops’ defensive communication trench 
Stele in memory of the battle on Hill A1 


Hill A1 was so important that it decided the survival of the Dien Bien Phu Strongholds. It was the reason why French General De Castries selected it to house a special elite force consisting of the 1st Battalion of the 4th Foreign Regiment, the 1st Battalion of the 13th Demi-Brigade of Foreign Legion, the 6th Vietnamese Parachute Battalion and the 1st Vietnamese Parachute Battalion. The force was greatly supported by aircraft, tanks and cannons under the direct leadership of the Command Post of the Dien Bien Phu Strongholds.

There were three defensive lines to protect the Hill A1 stronghold. The first one was tasked to defend, the second was to prevent penetration of other troops, the third was to hold the ground. All of the lines were covered with communication trenches, blockhouses, gun emplacements, and linked together to facilitate reinforcement and assistance. French troops placed five-layer barbed wire with various kinds of mines across an 100m wide area in front of the outer line.

A destroyed French tank on display on Hill A1 


Hill A1 was turned into the strongest fortification in Dien Bien Phu by French invaders.

So, destroying the Hill A1 stronghold was the especially crucial mission in the Dien Bien Phu Campaign. Regiment 174 of Brigade 316 and Regiment 102 of Brigade 308 were tasked to attack and occupy this fortification.

The two regiments took turn and coordinated with each other to bravely attack the fortification in 39 consecutive days and nights. They launched three offensive and an active defensive on the fortification.

French enemy’s strongest command post 


On last days of the attacks, Vietnamese troops secretly created a tunnel and placed 960kg of explosive there. They ignited the explosive on May 6 evening, shaking the enemy’s defensive line on Hill A1.

On May 7 morning, Vietnamese troops completely occupied Hill A1 stronghold, disabled four elite battalions of the enemy, badly decimated three mobile battalions, annihilated and destroyed a number of tanks and motorized vehicles, captured alive 825 enemy troops. May 7, 1954 marked the end of French troops in Dien Bien Phu.

 A crater on Hill A1


With its special significance in the historical Dien Bien Phu Campaign, Hill A1 has become a special relic in the Dien Bien Phu Historical Relic Complex. The relic has been preserved and upgraded. Some structures have been restored to recapture part of the Dien Bien Phu Campaign in 1954, including the command post, machine gun post on the top of the hill, 11 out of 37 enemy blockhouses; two command posts of Vietnamese troops, trench for explosive charges, 1,030 outdoor ditches, 52m of Vietnamese troops’ combat ditches, 7,155sq.m of fence and 400m of the enemy counter-attack way.

At present, the Hill A1 relic is an important attraction for both domestic and international visitors, contributing to local tourism development.

Translated by Mai Huong