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Indochina War Timeline: 1945

Famine in northern Vietnam during the first half 1945 is estimated to claim the lives of more than a million people. Capitalizing on the indifferent response to the crisis by the Japanese, and their French puppet government, the Viet Minh urges citizens to raid rice warehouses and gains substantial popular support as a result.
March
9th Japanese stage a coup de force, attacking French garrisons and interning the administration
11th Japanese force Bao Dai, Emperor of Annam, to denounce the French protectorate and to proclaim the independence of his country
April
12th Vice President Harry Truman becomes President as a result of Franklin Roosevelt's sudden death.
July
17th (to Aug 2nd) Allied Chiefs of Staff at the Potsdam Conference decide to temporarily partition Vietnam at the 16th parallel (Da Nang) for the purposes of operational convenience.
It is agreed that British forces will take the surrender of Japanese forces in Saigon for the southern half of Indochina, whilst Japanese troops in the northern half will surrender to the Chinese
August
6th U.S. drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima
9th American forces drop an atomic bomb on Nagasaki
13th The Central Committee of the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) convenes in Tan Trao and decides to lead the population in a general uprising to capitalize on the power vacuum and seize political control of the country
15th Surrender of Japan (V-J Day)
16th The Viet Minh National Congress meets in Tan Trao and approves the Central Committee’s order for a general uprising. It also elects the National Liberation Committee of Vietnam to serve as a provisional government with Ho Chi Minh as president
20th Viet Minh forces seize power in Hanoi
22nd The Viet Minh organise a celebration of national independence in Saigon
25th Emperor Bao Dai abdicates under pressure from the Viet Minh. He accepts the position of Supreme Advisor to the provisional DRV government.
The Committee of the South is formed to govern Saigon. Six of the committee's nine members are Viet Minh
28th British General Douglas Gracey appointed Commander Allied Forces for the occupation of French Indochina, south of latitude 16 degrees north and head of the Army Control Commission for French Indochina.
Gracey is to command all French forces in his area until the Commander-in-Chief, Allied Land Forces, South East Asia, decides that the French can set up an independent command. His mission is to:
  • Disarm all Japanese forces
  • Maintain law and order
  • Protect and evacuate Allied prisoners of war
  • Liberate Allied territory
September
2nd Japanese officials sign an unconditional surrender in Tokyo Bay
Ho Chi Minh declares the independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) In Hanoi
Demonstrations take place on the streets of Saigon
French President General De Gaulle appoints Thierry d'Argenlieu as High-Commissioner in Indochina
9th Chinese troops enter Hanoi to disarm Japanese troops north of the 16th parallel
12th The first allied troops, Indian Gurkhas, arrive in Saigon from Rangoon
13th General Douglas Gracey, Commander Allied Land Forces and GOC 20th Indian Division, arrives in Saigon to begin disarming Japanese troops south of the 16th parallel and finds widespread anarchy
19th Gracey prohibits publication of Saigon newspapers, believing they were stirring up trouble
21st In an effort to restore public order Gracey issues the following proclamation:
  • Public meetings and the carrying of arms is prohibited
  • Looters will be summarily shot
  • A curfew will be imposed between 9:30pm and 5:30am
22nd British forces in Saigon release and rearm French troops that had been initially interned by the Japanese on March 9th
23rd In the early hours of the morning the newly freed French forces overthrow the local DRV government and declare French authority restored in Cochin-China
24th French troops ordered back to barracks, but Saigon power station is attacked in Annamite reprisals
25th Massacre in the Tan Dinh suburb of Saigon: Approximately 300 French men, women and children are abducted and half of them are killed.
26th American OSS chief, Major Peter Dewey, attacked and killed in Saigon after being mistaken for a Frenchman
October
2nd General Gracey persuades French Commissioner Cedile to negotiate a cease-fire with the Viet Minh
5th General Leclerc, Commander-in-Chief of the French Expeditionary Corps, arrives in Saigon
9th British recognize the French Civil Administration as the sole authority in Indochina south of the 16th parallel
November
2nd The ICP is dissolved by the Viet Minh leadership and replaced by Association for the study of Karl Marx

1946