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Indochina War Timeline: 1951 - 1952

1951
January
13th Communist forces attack the French fortified defensive line around the Red River Delta (De Lattre Line) at Vinh-Yen, in an attempt to reach Hanoi
17th After suffering repeated human wave and suicide attacks, napalm drops help the French to defeat Vo Nguyen Giap's troops and to hold the area around Vinh-Yen
20th Bao Dai orders Prime Minister Tran Van Huu to form a new and more representative government
February
18th Prime Minister Tran Van Huu announces his new cabinet
March
23rd Viet Minh infantry divisions stage a second attempt to destroy the French defensive line with a fierce attack on Mao Khe
29th Despite the near destruction of Mao Khe village, French Union Forces manage to overcome the Communist offensive
May
9th Jean Letourneau, Minister for the Associated States, confirms that the French Expeditionary Force in Indochina totals approximately 225,000 men consisting of:
  • 51,000 metropolitan Frenchman
  • 18,000 Legionnaires
  • 26,000 North Africans
  • 15,000 Africans
  • 56,000 Indochinese
  • 17,000 French Officers
  • 42,000 Native auxiliaries
The National armies of the three Associated States total 162,000 men
29th Viet Minh forces infiltrated behind the De Lattre Line combine with regular Communist Divisions to mount a surprise attack on French positions along the Day River, south of Hanoi
30th Lieutenant Bernard de Lattre (son of the General) is killed at Ninh-Binh during the first night of the Day River assaults
June
18th The Communist supply line is ravaged by French riverine (Dinassaut) and airborne elements, forcing the Viet Minh to abandon their third assault in the Red River delta
October
5th French forces manage to successfully stop repeated Viet Minh assaults against Nghia Lo in the mountainous T’ai area
November
14th De Lattre takes the fight to the Viet Minh with a military offensive on the town of Hao Binh on the Black River, a major supply route between Communist strongholds
15th French forces successfully occupy Hoa Binh after meeting surprisingly little resistance. General Giap responds by launching a huge Viet Minh counteroffensive
December
19th General de Lattre leaves Inchochina
1952
January
11th General de Lattre de Tassigny dies of cancer. He is replaced as Commander-in-Chief by General Raoul Salan
February
22nd Salan orders Frenco-Viet forces to withdraw from Hoa Binh after 3-months of ferocious and murderous fighting
Salan says his decision to withdraw is based on the fact that:
  • The Viet Minh have succeeded in developing a parallel supply route that bypasses the town
  • The number of troops pinned down in Hoa Binh jeopardizes control of the Red River Delta, which the Viet Minh have begun to infiltrate
June
6th Nguyen Van Tam succeeds Tran Van Huu as Prime Minister
July
31st Major General Thomas J. H. Trapnell succeeds General Brink as Chief of MAAG-Indochina
October
29th General Salan launches Operation Lorraine; a large-scale offensive on the Viet Minh's supply system along the Red River. The raid is designed to divert enemy troops from the T’ai hill country
November
5th General Dwight Eisenhower wins the U.S. Presidential election
14th After capturing sizeable quantities of Viet Minh equipment but failing to engage the enemy, General Salan orders the withdrawal of troops from Operation Lorraine
17th French forces are ambushed by the Viet Minh at Chan-Moung whilst withdrawing to the de Lattre Line.
23rd The 308th Viet Minh Division surrounds and attacks the fortified French airbase at Na San
December
1st French defenders repel the Viet Minh attack on Na San
18st Jean Letourneau, Minister for the Associated States, confirms that 90,000 French Legionnaires, African and North African troops are dead, missing or wounded for the period 1945 to October 1952

1950    1953