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Why did France lose the war?

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  • hobo9
    started a topic Why did France lose the war?

    Why did France lose the war?

    Interesting. Especially in regard to the man in the street in France.
    My apologies if this has been posted before.
    http://wordpress.aber.ac.uk/interpol...exander-frost/

  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post

    Khe San established that the US could do it.

    In the New Guinia campaign in '43 the US kept several sizable operations going purely of air supply.
    With the later the biggest was probably Nadzab

    https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cgi/v...dschool_theses

    At that one, the US parachuted in a regiment, followed by air landing a division on the airfield the regiment created. One should note, the first thing the US brought in after the initial crude airfield was created were gliders carrying small bulldozers and tractor lawnmowers to cut and clear the kunai grass and improve the field. Subsequent loads included partially disassembled dump trucks and jeeps to finish the job (they had to fit inside a C-47).
    Once they had a good airfield, the 7th Australian division was flown in and deployed to defend the airfield.

    That was the smart way to do an air supply. Create a good set of conditions at the receiving end to ensure supplies arrive in the quantities needed.

    Had the Luftwaffe at Stalingrad had good all-weather airfields at both ends of the chain and made sure these were kept fully operational by availability of some mechanized engineer equipment like a few vehicles with snowplows, and they had brought in poor weather navigation aids for the planes the airlift might well have worked.

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  • Arnold J Rimmer
    replied
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

    The Berlin air lift proves otherwise. You can totally supply an isolated base by air, but only if you have the infrastructure and equipment to do it.
    Khe San established that the US could do it.

    In the New Guinia campaign in '43 the US kept several sizable operations going purely of air supply.

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  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by asterix View Post

    Not an apt comparison.....the Berlin air lift was the result of a blockade, there was no shooting war. There is a big difference when you're able to fly in supplies through a narrow but open corridor, but free from enemy fire - as opposed to no corridor and a hail of bullets/shells.
    Bastogne. The Kholm pocket in 1942. Stalingrad failed on two counts: First, the weather was miserable so the aircraft often couldn't fly. Second, the airfields, navigation aids, etc., being used were execrable. The Germans failed to work quickly to improve the quality of the airfields at each end of the airlift so even when it was working properly, on the few days that it did, the loss of aircraft to poor airfields, inability to find the proper place to drop or land supplies, and lack of handling facilities at both ends doomed it. Flak and enemy fighter opposition was not the Luftwaffe's major problem there. Logistical and operational planning competence was.

    In the Berlin airlift, the process was continually streamlined making it possible to land, unload or load aircraft in a matter of minutes. This greatly increased the amount of material that was delivered on its own. At Bastogne, or in Market-Garden, the use of Rebecca / Eureka homing transmitters on the ground and gear on the aircraft to home on those signals meant that the vast majority of supplies landed just where needed. 1st Airborne at Arnhem had the bad luck to lose 5 of 6 drop sites and their Rebecca units through capture or the unit failing to work. The planes continued to accurately drop supplies on the working Rebecca sites though.

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  • asterix
    replied
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

    The Berlin air lift proves otherwise. You can totally supply an isolated base by air, but only if you have the infrastructure and equipment to do it.
    Not an apt comparison.....the Berlin air lift was the result of a blockade, there was no shooting war. There is a big difference when you're able to fly in supplies through a narrow but open corridor, but free from enemy fire - as opposed to no corridor and a hail of bullets/shells.

    Leave a comment:


  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
    They also fell victim to something that nailed the Germans at Stalingrad and the Americans in Viet Nam later - the myth that isolated bases can be totally supplied by air.
    The Berlin air lift proves otherwise. You can totally supply an isolated base by air, but only if you have the infrastructure and equipment to do it.

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  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    More importantly, they lost in good part because of the "European" colonial model. Rather than try and integrate the locals into a French-Vietnamese blended society, they tried to impose everything French on them. The language of government was French and nothing else. French citizens that lived in Indochina went to French speaking schools, often just for them, lived in cities built with European architecture, and imposed French values and culture on the country.
    Thus, there were in reality two different Vietnams. One for the French, and one for the Vietnamese. That was the factor that led to insurrection. Japan helped that along by taking the country for a short time and disrupting the French colonial administration. That the Allies supplied arms to the resistance only helped them in their cause. Ho Chi Min actually tried rather hard to get the US to back his revolution, and the US might well have had he not been basing it on Communism.
    The time for the French to win in Vietnam was before 1940, decades before. But, they didn't pay attention to that. They went with the standard European colonial model of European French being superior to the locals, rigid class structures, imposition of their values on society even where these caused serious social issues, and an economic model that was based on exploitation of the economy for France.

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  • Mountain Man
    replied
    They also fell victim to something that nailed the Germans at Stalingrad and the Americans in Viet Nam later - the myth that isolated bases can be totally supplied by air.

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  • lirelou
    replied
    Sebfrench76 Given the pressures and politics of the 4th Republic, it hard to see how the war could have ended otherwise. First, the French had made real contributions to Vietnam, economically, culturally, in public health, and public education. And over the course of four short years, their goals changed. They had given up the idea of re-establishing a colony, and were willing to settle for an independent but freely associated state. But in those four short years, it also became quite obvious that HCM intended to establish a communist state whose first priority would be to eliminate class enemies. (google: Alex Thai Nguyen Thi Nam and the land reform in North Vietnam) Thus Vietnam became a domino in the Cold War when France was still part of the NATO military coalition.

    After the failure of the 1947 Autumn Campaign, Indochina became a colonial war in the sense that draftees were no longer to serve there except as volunteers. So the war became a matter for the colonial infantry and artillery, the Legion, and the Army of (North) Africa, making it look far more like a colonial re-conquest that a crusade against communism, and this at a time when the French Communist Party enjoyed the support of a quarter of the population.

    The locals weren't working for you, they were fighting with you, because they had causes of their own. The Catholics had supported HCM up until the time the Pope issued an encyclical denouncing communism as incompatible with christianity. The Khmer Krom from the Vietnamese conquered Mekong Delta and Bassac regions, were opposing the DRVN because Prince Sisowath Monireth had denounced HCM's party as a threat to the survival of Cambodia. The Central Highlanders were enlisted in France's cause because they too viewed the DRVN as a greater threat to their future than the State of Vietnam, which was the lesser threat, And the religious minorities of the Mekong Region were with you because their cooperation with the Viet Minh had already cost them the lives of several leaders. As for the Legion, post 1945 there were a lot of Europeans whose home countries had been largely destroyed in WWII, and occupied by the Red Army. For some eastern Europeans, such as the Poles, fighting in the ranks of the Legion was their way of revenging themselves on the Red Army, as it was for some Ukrainians. For others, including former Vichy members, serving in the Legion was their way of rehabilitating themselves.

    And what did their sacrifices obtain? Two Vietnams, almost as had existed prior to 1802 (google Dang Trong and Dang Ngoai), except now with everything from Bien Hoa down to Ca Mau and over to Ha Tien added to it. Up until 1949, France had recognized Cambodia's claims to those regions, but finally recognized "Kinh" had outbred the Khmer Krom of the region, making it irreversibly Vietnam's third "Ky", one of the main reasons HCM had gone to war in the first place.

    France didn't "lose" the war. They laid the basis of its division, much as the Korean War had with that country. They left an independent Vietnamese state in their wake, turning the responsibility for assisting in its defense over to the Americans. And we know how that ended.
    Last edited by lirelou; 02 May 17, 20:42.

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  • sebfrench76
    replied
    Who cares for Indochina when hundreads of thousends of POWs came back 4 years before ,with a detestation of war that you may easily here understand.?
    Nobody was ready to fight longer than needed , except the expats,the locals working for us , and some guys from the FFL , with a shady past.
    My 2 cents ,but there are real specialists here.

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  • Kendrick
    replied
    The Vietnamese Communist were determined to fight as long as it took to achieve victory. For France, retention of Indo China was not as vital so when after a military setback they decided to pull out.

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  • Moulin
    replied
    Originally posted by lirelou View Post
    Good point. During WWI the French had seventy thousand Indochinese troops in the French Army outside of Indochina (Mostly in France, but also on the Eastern Front and in Siberia) and slightly over a thousand Indochinese War Workers. Those troops and workers expected to become French citizens and return to an Indochina that valued their service. Such was not the case. Moreover, their experience in France had awakened them to the reality of French life. It wasn't all Gay Paree. Out in the provinces, the average French farming family lived a life very much like the average Vietnamese peasant. And more to the point, the French in France respected them as equals, unlike the Colons back home.

    IF France had wanted to retain Indochina, their window of opportunity was 1919-1939. Your other posts have touched admirably on why this wasn't so.
    The sad truth appears to be, they didn't really want to keep it as much as they couldn't bring themselves to let it go.
    retain, for how long? if NVN kicked the US out, I don't see how France could've retained VN...as we see in many of these conflicts--the home country usually can never lose

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  • Redzen
    replied
    Originally posted by lirelou View Post
    Metryll: Pardon me if this is repetitive, but the French had all of Indochina to defend, while we had roughly half of Vietnam. When I ask the Vietnamese veterans of the French Army what the French were best at, the answer is the inevitably employment of personnel. As for the US Army, they rate it higher in logistics.
    [My bold: R.Z.]

    Exactly. The French were clearly undermanned for the task they had set themselves in Indochina. But were they under-gunned?

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  • Redzen
    replied
    La Sale Guerre was finally over for France, but it had been nothing short of a catastrophe. Indecision, infighting, instability and disinterest [sic] plagued both the French political community and its under-resourced military during the war.
    Just how did indecision, infighting, instability, and uninterest plague the French armed forces in Indochina? And how were the French armed forces in Indochina under-resourced with the U.S. bankrolling 80 percent of French war effort in Indochina and supplying the overwhelming bulk of heavy arms and other war materiel for France's Indochinese war?

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  • lirelou
    replied
    The French lost the Indochina War before the beginning of WW2. The Indochina War itself was damage-control.
    Good point. During WWI the French had seventy thousand Indochinese troops in the French Army outside of Indochina (Mostly in France, but also on the Eastern Front and in Siberia) and slightly over a thousand Indochinese War Workers. Those troops and workers expected to become French citizens and return to an Indochina that valued their service. Such was not the case. Moreover, their experience in France had awakened them to the reality of French life. It wasn't all Gay Paree. Out in the provinces, the average French farming family lived a life very much like the average Vietnamese peasant. And more to the point, the French in France respected them as equals, unlike the Colons back home.

    IF France had wanted to retain Indochina, their window of opportunity was 1919-1939. Your other posts have touched admirably on why this wasn't so.
    The sad truth appears to be, they didn't really want to keep it as much as they couldn't bring themselves to let it go.

    Leave a comment:

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