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  • #91
    Originally posted by Finn View Post
    So what exactly were the Viet Minh forces avialable in LK-V in June of 1954?

    [I have the following units present (with varying degrees of confidence in their designations or existence)

    803rd Regiment [Near An-Khe]
    19th Battalion
    39th Battalion
    59th Battalion

    108th Regiment [North around Kontum]
    89th Battalion
    90th Battalion

    96th Regiment [Part near Mang Yang, most near Bato (in Quang Nagi)]
    40th Battalion
    79th Battalion

    120th Regional Regiment [South of An-Khe]
    unknown subordinate units

    102nd Regional Regiment [I am wondering if this is a phantom unit, and merely a 'typo' for the 120th]

    84th Regional Regiment I am very uncertain about the size and existence of this unit. I have a gut-feeling it was a subordinate battalion to one of the other formations listed]

    29th Regional Battalion [Near Bong Son]
    108th Regional Battalion [Near Bong Son]
    30th Regional Battalion [Location unknown]

    As always any further information or corrections are most welcome. Thanks.
    AFAIK, in Jun 1954 VM's LKV had 6 regiments: 84th, 96th, 108th, 120th, 803rd and 812th. 108th and 803rd were mobile units, the rest were regional.

    Comment


    • #92
      Indochina 1945-1954

      If the following question is not off-topic, I hope that a member of this forum can shed light on an unusual question about the battle of Dien Bien Phu.

      Several years ago I met a United States Army veteran who claimed to have accompanied French paratroopers when they parachuted into Dien Bien Phu on 20 November 1953. He claimed that he departed Dien Bien Phu, on a C-119 aircraft, on 27 April 1954.

      He claimed that between 20 November 1953 and 27 April 1954, he was attached to the French unit that defended strong point Beatrice. He claimed that he was a sergeant serving with the US Army Rangers and that his mission was to observe French operations and draw lessons learned that might be incorporated into the US Army Rangers' training program

      If this gentleman's story is true, it seems that there should be some type of official record or at least a news story that could confirm that American military observers were posted with French forces at Dien Bien Phu. To date all efforts to find such a record have failed.

      I am not an expert on the battle at Dien Bien Phu, but I believe that the 1st Colonial Parachute Battalion, Commanded by Captaine Guy de Bazin de Bezon, took part in fighting near Strongpoint Beatrice as early as 4 December 1953, and that the 3rd Battalion of the 13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade defended Beatrice after the 1st BPC departed. Perhaps veterans of those units might be able to confirm whether any American military observers accompanied French forces during the first five months of that operation.

      Thanks in advance for any information that can clarify this story.

      Warm regards,
      RJD

      Comment


      • #93
        Hi RJD.

        There was indeed an American who accompanied the French Paratroopers when they parachuted into DBP.

        .....But he didn't jump.

        Gen William B Rosson has the best claim.


        Obviously there are a few problems with the dates.

        Beatrice fell in mid March

        First week of April was the last time anything landed on the airstrip, even then, it was a forced landing and it was immediately chewed to pieces by artillery.

        A C-119 landing in DBP and taking off again on the 27th is impossible.

        Welcome aboard, loved your stuff in the Senate hearings

        Cheers

        Mick






        Originally posted by RJD View Post
        If the following question is not off-topic, I hope that a member of this forum can shed light on an unusual question about the battle of Dien Bien Phu.

        Several years ago I met a United States Army veteran who claimed to have accompanied French paratroopers when they parachuted into Dien Bien Phu on 20 November 1953. He claimed that he departed Dien Bien Phu, on a C-119 aircraft, on 27 April 1954.

        He claimed that between 20 November 1953 and 27 April 1954, he was attached to the French unit that defended strong point Beatrice. He claimed that he was a sergeant serving with the US Army Rangers and that his mission was to observe French operations and draw lessons learned that might be incorporated into the US Army Rangers' training program

        If this gentleman's story is true, it seems that there should be some type of official record or at least a news story that could confirm that American military observers were posted with French forces at Dien Bien Phu. To date all efforts to find such a record have failed.

        I am not an expert on the battle at Dien Bien Phu, but I believe that the 1st Colonial Parachute Battalion, Commanded by Captaine Guy de Bazin de Bezon, took part in fighting near Strongpoint Beatrice as early as 4 December 1953, and that the 3rd Battalion of the 13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade defended Beatrice after the 1st BPC departed. Perhaps veterans of those units might be able to confirm whether any American military observers accompanied French forces during the first five months of that operation.

        Thanks in advance for any information that can clarify this story.

        Warm regards,
        RJD

        Comment


        • #94
          Originally posted by Chippymick View Post
          Hi RJD.

          There was indeed an American who accompanied the French Paratroopers when they parachuted into DBP.

          .....But he didn't jump.

          Gen William B Rosson has the best claim.


          Obviously there are a few problems with the dates.

          Beatrice fell in mid March

          First week of April was the last time anything landed on the airstrip, even then, it was a forced landing and it was immediately chewed to pieces by artillery.

          A C-119 landing in DBP and taking off again on the 27th is impossible.

          Welcome aboard, loved your stuff in the Senate hearings

          Cheers

          Mick
          Mick,

          Thanks. As you noted, there are several problems with this fellow's story.

          You are correct, it would have been impossible to fly out of DBP on the 27th of April. I believe the last medical evacuation flight took place on March the 23rd or 26th. A medevac plane landed in March 28th but was damaged and could not take off. The famous Air Force nurse, Genevieve de Galard, was on board that flight.

          When I first heard this fellow's claim some years ago, I managed to compile a list of approximately a half-dozen Americans who made brief liaison visits to Dien Bien Phu during the early period of the campaign. If I recall correctly, Life Magazine reported on one of those visits. None of those visiters were noncommissioned officers; and, as I recall, none of them stayed overnight. Unfortunately, I am having trouble locating the list today.

          Perhaps a member of this forum knows someone in the Foreign Legion Association who would be able to comment on the story. The Association did not respond to my e-mails and letters.

          Warm regards,
          RJD

          Comment


          • #95
            Originally posted by RJD View Post
            Mick,

            Thanks. As you noted, there are several problems with this fellow's story.

            You are correct, it would have been impossible to fly out of DBP on the 27th of April. I believe the last medical evacuation flight took place on March the 23rd or 26th. A medevac plane landed in March 28th but was damaged and could not take off. The famous Air Force nurse, Genevieve de Galard, was on board that flight.

            When I first heard this fellow's claim some years ago, I managed to compile a list of approximately a half-dozen Americans who made brief liaison visits to Dien Bien Phu during the early period of the campaign. If I recall correctly, Life Magazine reported on one of those visits. None of those visiters were noncommissioned officers; and, as I recall, none of them stayed overnight. Unfortunately, I am having trouble locating the list today.

            Perhaps a member of this forum knows someone in the Foreign Legion Association who would be able to comment on the story. The Association did not respond to my e-mails and letters.

            Warm regards,
            RJD

            Right you are.

            According to Martin Windrow

            General Trapnell visited two times on the 29 Nov and 19 Dec. (With accompanying Staff according to Fall)

            On 2 Feb, Trapnell’s MAAG replacement General O’Daniel led a large group of officers to the Valley.

            According to Bernard Fall even Graham Greene went for a visit!


            If you can shed any light on why a Malay paratrooper was killed in the same plane crash as Earthquake McGoon, I’d be obliged. I've never been able to figure that one out.

            Cheers

            Mick

            Comment


            • #96
              Originally posted by Chippymick View Post
              Right you are.

              [clipped for brevity]

              If you can shed any light on why a Malay paratrooper was killed in the same plane crash as Earthquake McGoon, I’d be obliged. I've never been able to figure that one out.

              Cheers

              Mick
              Mick,

              I am not an expert on this incident, but I have always understood that there were only five persons on board that plane: the American pilot James B. "Earthquake McGoon" McGovern III., his American co-pilot Wallace A. Buford, a French crew chief, and two cargo handlers (a Frenchman and a Thai). Several years ago, my colleagues and I searched for, but never found any American records that identified the two Frenchmen and the Thai crewmembers by name. Perhaps new information that I am not aware of has surfaced since I retired.

              For members of the forum who might not by familiar with this story, McGovern and two members of his crew were killed when their C-119 Flying Boxcar crashed in Laos after being hit by ground fire while parachuting supplies to the besieged French forces at Dien Bien Phu on 6 May 1954.

              McGovern, Buford, and the French crew chief were killed in the crash. I believe the two cargo handlers survived the crash. American and Lao specialists recovered McGovern's remains in 2002. To the best of my knowledge, the remains of Buford and the French crew chief have not yet been found.

              Mick, I do not recall having seen any record that mentioned a sixth person on board McGovern's aircraft. Although from my armchair in Temecula, California, I cannot confirm that the two cargo handlers survived, I believe that information to be correct.

              I hesitate to hazard any conjecture about a Malay paratrooper without knowing more information about this person.

              If you know, what was the Malay paratrooper's function during this flight? Is it possible that the person described in official reports as the French crew chief was a French citizen of Malay heritage? Is it possible that separate reports of a Malay paratrooper and a Thai cargo handler in fact were refering to the same person but were confused about that person's nationality, his function on McGovern's aircraft, and his fate?

              You have excited my curiosity. I will welcome any details you can provide that might lead to an explanation for the mysterious (to me) Malay paratrooper.

              Warm regards,
              RJD

              Comment


              • #97
                Hi RJD

                This account

                The Final Flight

                On the afternoon of May 6, 1954, six CAT C-119s departed Cat Bi airbase for Dien Bien Phu. One flown by McGovern and Buford carried desperately needed ammunition for paratroopers holding out at an encampment named Isabelle, the last of the five firebases in the valley still in French hands. The first aircraft in the CAT convoy safely dropped its load, but as McGovern approached the drop zone, the port engine sustained damage from a 37-mm anti-aircraft round. Soon after, a second hit damaged the horizontal stabilizer, severely impairing his ability to maintain flight.

                Guided by the pilots in the lead aircraft, McGovern and Buford struggled for 40 minutes to keep their aircraft aloft on one engine—long enough to attempt an emergency landing at a remote landing strip 75 miles to the southwest in Laos. Just a few hundred yards short of the landing strip, however, a wing tip clipped a tree. The aircraft cart wheeled, broke in half, and burned. McGovern and Buford died in the crash along with two French paratroopers. One Malay paratrooper and a French officer, Second Lieutenant Jean Arlaux, were injured and captured by Lao soldiers. The Malay paratrooper died from his injuries, leaving Arlaux as the sole survivor.

                The remaining French forces at Dien Bien Phu surrendered the next day after Viet Minh forces overran the Isabelle base.

                Comes from here

                The CIA - ultimately, can they be trusted?

                It's equally mysterious to me as well. I think it is an error. Was the Thai a Thai in the sense of a neighbour of Malaya or was he a T'ai as in Montagnard?

                Cheers

                Mick

                Comment


                • #98
                  Originally posted by Chippymick View Post
                  Hi RJD

                  This account

                  The Final Flight

                  On the afternoon of May 6, 1954, six CAT C-119s departed Cat Bi airbase for Dien Bien Phu. One flown by McGovern and Buford carried desperately needed ammunition for paratroopers holding out at an encampment named Isabelle, the last of the five firebases in the valley still in French hands. The first aircraft in the CAT convoy safely dropped its load, but as McGovern approached the drop zone, the port engine sustained damage from a 37-mm anti-aircraft round. Soon after, a second hit damaged the horizontal stabilizer, severely impairing his ability to maintain flight.

                  Guided by the pilots in the lead aircraft, McGovern and Buford struggled for 40 minutes to keep their aircraft aloft on one engine—long enough to attempt an emergency landing at a remote landing strip 75 miles to the southwest in Laos. Just a few hundred yards short of the landing strip, however, a wing tip clipped a tree. The aircraft cart wheeled, broke in half, and burned. McGovern and Buford died in the crash along with two French paratroopers. One Malay paratrooper and a French officer, Second Lieutenant Jean Arlaux, were injured and captured by Lao soldiers. The Malay paratrooper died from his injuries, leaving Arlaux as the sole survivor.

                  The remaining French forces at Dien Bien Phu surrendered the next day after Viet Minh forces overran the Isabelle base.

                  Comes from here

                  The CIA - ultimately, can they be trusted?

                  It's equally mysterious to me as well. I think it is an error. Was the Thai a Thai in the sense of a neighbour of Malaya or was he a T'ai as in Montagnard?

                  Cheers

                  Mick
                  Mick,

                  Excellent catch! I note that the CIA posted the article you cited on its website on 16 July 2009. When my colleagues and I were searching for records several years ago, the CIA office we contacted was not able to come up with any record that contained the identities of the persons other than McGovern and Buford who were on boad the aircraft.

                  Obviously, someone did additional research since then. It now appears that there were six persons on the aircraft, rather than five as I previously believed.

                  Let me do some digging and see if I can find information that will shed light on the identity of the mysterious Malay paratrooper.

                  Warm regards,
                  RJD

                  Comment


                  • #99
                    Hi RJD

                    I still think it is an error. But we Commonwealth types must look out for our own!


                    Cheers

                    Mick


                    Originally posted by RJD View Post
                    Mick,

                    Excellent catch! I note that the CIA posted the article you cited on its website on 16 July 2009. When my colleagues and I were searching for records several years ago, the CIA office we contacted was not able to come up with any record that contained the identities of the persons other than McGovern and Buford who were on boad the aircraft.

                    Obviously, someone did additional research since then. It now appears that there were six persons on the aircraft, rather than five as I previously believed.

                    Let me do some digging and see if I can find information that will shed light on the identity of the mysterious Malay paratrooper.

                    Warm regards,
                    RJD

                    Comment


                    • Hi, Mick and RJD,

                      Found this.

                      As recounted by Colonel Jean Arlaux

                      The 3 bailers on the C-119 are French servicemen. Bataille, Rescouriou and Moussa, well-trained paratroopers, wearing olive drab uniforms, red berets, boots. Myself, then second-lieutenant, accompany them as an adviser, or rather an observer. I have no jumping experience. It is my first war act.
                      After 40 minutes of incredibly difficult but successful flight, the plane's control is lost. The left wing hits a tree in its attempt to reach the airstrip a mere half-mile away. The plane crashes on the ground, cartwheels, breaks off into 2 parts and starts burning. The crash occurs at 17:54, near the village of Muong Het, a few yards away from the Nam Het river bank.

                      The 2 pilots are immediately killed on the spot, along with 2 kickers. Myself and Moussa loose consciousness. A few days after the crash, we recover and find ourselves in a canoe taken as prisoners by Lao soldiers. Moussa , severely wounded, will die a few days later. That day 196 tons of supplies, the largest drop in 8 days, have been bailed out, by 50 C119's and C-47's.
                      I pray with one of them, Moussa, a Muslim from Malaysia. He asked me to join me in my prayers, and both of us share in our hands the Holy Virgin medallion I always wear since I left France for Vietnam. It has been blessed during a Catholic mass performed in Paris, a few days before my departure for war. This medal is very precious for me and will help me all along the way.
                      Altus

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by altus View Post
                        Hi, Mick and RJD,

                        Found this.

                        As recounted by Colonel Jean Arlaux







                        Altus
                        Well I'll be!

                        Thanks Altus. It appears there is no error.

                        Why would a young man prefer to fight in Vietnam against Giap rather than at home against Chin Peng?

                        Why and how was he there?

                        It is still quite mysterious.

                        Cheers

                        Mick

                        Comment


                        • Indochina 1945-1954

                          Originally posted by altus View Post
                          Hi, Mick and RJD,

                          Found this.

                          As recounted by Colonel Jean Arlaux

                          Altus
                          Col. Altus,

                          Thanks. Ten years ago, neither the CIA, the Air America Association, or French officials were able to provide names for the French personnel aboard McGovern's aircraft. I have not revisited the history of the incident since I retired in 2001.

                          I am pleased to learn that others continued to search for information about the French soldiers on board the aircraft.

                          I am indebted to you for bringing Mick and me up-to-date on the history of the incident.

                          Warm regards,
                          RJD

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by RJD View Post
                            Col. Altus,
                            Wait a minute!! Did I miss something here? Is Altus really a Colonel?


                            Or is that just the silly ACG thing?
                            Last edited by Miss Saigon; 13 Dec 09, 11:08.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Miss Saigon View Post
                              Wait a minute!! Did I miss something here? Is Altus really a Colonel?


                              Or is that just the silly ACG thing?
                              Miss Saigon,

                              Anyone who is as well informed and articulate as Altus, should be at least a Colonel.

                              Warm regards,
                              RJD

                              Comment


                              • Hi RJD,

                                Originally posted by RJD View Post
                                Anyone who is as well informed and articulate as Altus, should be at least a Colonel.
                                Now I'm too flattered. I'm just glad I could help. Besides, it was nothing but some searching, based on the CIA article that Mick provided, on my part.

                                Miss Saigon does have a point, however. If only could you please call me simply Altus.

                                Respectfully yours,

                                Altus

                                Comment

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