Here are my unedited notes based on our local tour guide when we were staying in Dien Bien Phu, January 22-23, 2011 inclusive:
“... For the colonial French government, Dien Bien Phu was the Waterloo of France against the Vietnamese ppl. With their superior war machine and better trained soldiers, the French Govt chose Dien Bien Phu to be their command central to control colonial Indo-China. They set up their military HQ in the valley and figured that the Vietnamese with their poor artillery, will not be able to shell them from the surrounding mountains.
But the French general at DBP underestimated the number of peasants turned underground supporters and the sheer number of the latter (human-wave strategy) who were hauling their artillery and digging tunnels to within striking distance of the French. Further more, the Vietnamese took advantage of the rainy seasons which rendered the French air force enormous scheduling and navigational difficulties.
Against all odds, the Vietnamese surrounded the valley from all sides and eventually overran the strategic gun hills of the French. Dien Bien Phu fell and thousands of French soldiers were captured. Even with severe casualties on the side of the Vietnamese, the battle of DBP was both a moral and military victory for the people of Vietnam. ...”
I have taken quite a few pictures of the area, including those taken in the underground bunker of the French commanders. Stay turned and I will post some of them upon my return to Canada.
(in Hoi An, abt 25 min by car from the Da Nang Airport, Southern Vietnam)
Jan 24, 2011 18h50 local time