A vast valley in northwestern Vietnam, Dien Bien Phu was a military base of exceptional strategic importance for the French colonialists.

In the 1953-54 Winter-Spring Campaign, the French forces included 21 battalions with 16,200 troops, supported by three artillery battalions, one engineering battalion, one tank company and one air squadron.

All the French paratroopers and 40 percent of their crack mobile force were stationed there.

These forces were positioned in three sub-regions – North, Centre and South, with 49 fortified camps.

Thus Dien Bien Phu was turned into the most powerful complex of entrenched fortifications in Indochina then.

The Dien Bien Phu victory ends the nine-year war against French colonists.


After 56 days and nights of piercing the mountains to clear the way and dig tunnels, enduring hardships and making sacrifices with unwavering determination, the Vietnamese Army, led by General Vo Nguyen Giap, recorded a historic victory.

On January 26, 1954, General Vo Nguyen Giap changed the strategy of the campaign from "Fast Strike, Fast Victory" to "Steady Attack, Steady Advance" following approval from President Ho Chi Minh and the Politburo.

On March 13 campaign starts and has three phases:

March 13th-17th: Stage 1 Attack: Infantry Divisions 312 and 308 attacked the Him Lam Hill (Beatrice), Doc Lap Hill (Gabrielle) and Ban Keo (Anne-Marie 1 and 2) in the northern stretch of the French Dien Bien Phu Entrenchment.

March 30th-April 30th: Stage 2 Attack: Infantry Divisions 316, 308 and 312 attacked the eastern strongholds namely C1 (Eliane 1), E (Dominique 1), D and A1 (Eliane 2). Vietnamese army surrounded the strongholds, while keeping digging up new trenches to get closer to the central command headquarters as well as stops the aerial support lines of the French.

The hardest battle to win was on A1, where Vietnamese army launched three waves of attack and won over only after set exploding a 1000-kg bomb dug into the hill.

May 1st-7th: Stage 3 Attack: Divisions 308, 312 and 306 attacked the rest of eastern strongholds and launched final attack to capture General De Castries and his entire staff.

Source: VNA