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Dien Bien Phu: Trenches in the Tropics» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Dispatches From Commander, French Forces. rss

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Jeffery Hatmaker
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Turn I

The Vietminh open with a savage artillery barrage that obliterates the airfield, continuing for far longer than is necessary to accomplish that end. It is obviously a high priority for general Vo Nguyen Giap. One would assume that adversely affecting our level of resupply is precursor to a major attack. Elements of the 88th Battalion, 298th Division attacked stronghold Gabrielle hot on the heels of another artillery strike. The relatively small force of Algerians there were annihilated. Legion paras were sent to drive them back; the counter-attack went well, but even though the the enemy sustained heavy losses, each man lost to the Legion paras can ill be afforded. Supplies low (level 6).

Turn II

Twice now we have prevented the Vietminh from putting trenches next to strongholds just prior to their attacks. Anne-Marie was shelled by artillery; her small garrison of Thais didn’t stand a chance when the ground assault came. They were lost to a man. Attempted to counter-attack with 8th BPC (Parachute Assault Battalion), it was repulsed with heavy losses; a quarter of it’s fighting strength was destroyed. Reinforcements parachuted in; 5th BPVN (Vietnamese Parachute Battalion) and the 6th BPC (Colonial Parachute Battalion). Re-supply was adequate, but after such intense fighting, stores are even lower than before.

Turn III

Elements of the 36th Battalion stormed Gabrielle after an artillery bombardment. Legion paras fought extremely well, but were destroyed. Vietminh dug trenches right up to the wire, thus reducing their casualties and in doing so, were able to take Gabrielle. Counter-attack led by 8 BPC supported by Shaffee tanks repulsed. 8th BPC now down to half strength. Received 2/1st RCP as reinforcements. Re-supply will be more difficult now that the northern approach to the valley, (which is referred to by the men as "the toilet"), is held by the enemy.

Turn IV

Vietminh dug trenches to Isabelle. Elements of 209th Battalion attacked after artillery barrage, completely destroying 2/1st RTA and almost all of 3/3rd REI. Remnants of 3/3rd REI only just hold out. Casualties appalling. No reinforcements available. Must make do and hope to improve situation to one that is more defensible until more troops can arrive.

Turn V

Reinforced Isabelle with Shaffee tanks. Again the Vietminh emerged from the trenches, this time, with a fresh battalion, the 57th of the 304th Division. 3/3rd REI completely wiped out. Shaffee tanks devastated, but managed to hold Isabelle! Still no reinforcements available. 1/2nd REI reports sounds of trenches being dug at their position at Huguette. Re-supply has been excellent, but I need men.

Turn VI

Reinforced Shaffee's at Isabelle with 2/1st RCP and what remains of 8th BPC. On my orders, 8th BPC took further losses in a failed attempt to destroy the trenches at Isabelle. They’re still holding on, but for how much longer? Still no reinforcements available. Plenty of air-dropped supplies recovered... for now.

Turn VII

Reinforced Isabelle with 3/13th RTA but to no avail. This time, yet another fresh Battalion, the 141st of the 312th Division took Isabelle. All units lost. The shelling which precedes each assault is devastating. Finally received reinforcements by parachute drop, the 2nd BEP. Will it be enough? Supplies still holding, but with both approaches to the valley held by the enemy, re-supply is sure to suffer, and consequently, so shall we.

Turn VIII

Reinforced Beatrice with 5th BPVN. Surrounded by those damnable trenches. As predicted, re-supply barely adequate. Disaster! After hard, bloody fighting, Dominique fell. Lost 5th BPVN and 6th BPC to a man. 3/13th DBLE completely cut off on Beatrice. They are on their own. Launched counter-attack with 2nd BEP, but it failed, costing them a third of their fighting strength. Reinforced by 1st BPC in another night drop. Too little too late? Casualties high on both sides, even more so for the Vietminh, but still they come. If not re-supplied adequately, I may have to abandon Claudine to bolster more defensible positions.

Turn IX

3/13th fought valiantly, and were only forced to surrender Beatrice after running out of ammo. They suffered heavy losses during their retreat to HQ. We are out of ammo and food. Emergency air drop requested, hopefully enough gets through. No counter-attacks possible. We have no more reinforcements coming; they all ready give us up as lost. We still have some fight left in us. We shall see.

Turn X

We are lost. Only enough rations dropped to stave off starvation. Ammo depleted. Only remaining units are 1/4th RTM on Claudine, 1st BPC and 3/13th DBLE. Those of us remaining cannot fight on without ammunition, food or medicine. We are without the means to fight, surrounded, outnumbered and alone. Will radio General Vo Nguyen Giap and request cease-fire to negotiate surrender.


 
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