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View Full Version : Britain's war in Vietnam 1945-46



Sam Lord
22-09-2013, 09:13 AM
Operation Masterdom. :)

Not very well know about but set the stage for decades of further conflict.

Vietnam had been a French colony for some 50 years prior to its occupation by the Japanese during the Second World War. At the end of the war the Viet Minh (Vietnamese national liberation movement led by Ho Chi Minh) established a provisional government and declared independence. (Sept. 1945). The French wanted the place back but were in no condition to reassert their control. In stepped the Brits on their behalf. A force of about 20,000 British and troops of the British Indian Army were dispatched to assert control. They fought the Viet Minh for about 6 months until the French felt they were strong enough to handle the situation.

One astonishing aspect of the story is that the Japanese occupying forces from WW2 were not disarmed but were actually "deputisied" by the British Commander Maj. Gen. Douglas Gracey to fight alongside the British and French forces. (Though, I believe, a significant number of Japanese were recruited to the Vietnamese side).

The Vietnamese had some fighting experience but they were no match for the battle hardened forces they came up against and took a terrible mauling:



For their part, the British lost 40 troops. Japanese and French casualties were roughly equal to that. The Viet Minh had suffered more than 2,500 dead. [6] They would be the first the fall. Over the next 30 years, more than 2 million would die in the intractable and tragic war that engulfed all of Indo China.


More information here:

http://militaryhistorynow.com/2012/11/22/tommy-vs-charlie-britains-six-month-war-in-vietnam/

Sam Lord
22-09-2013, 09:39 AM
Incidentally, another little know fact about Vietnam in that period is the famine which caused the deaths of up to two million people in 1945.

Significant factors in this appear to be the economic policies pursued by the French administration and hoarding by the Japanese occupiers:



After the Great Depression in the 1930s, France returned to its policy of economic protectorate and monopolized the exploitation of natural resources of Indochina. The people in Indochina had to increase the economic value of the area by growing cash crops in place of lower-value agricultural produce, but only the French and a small minority of Vietnamese and Hoa and some people in the cities benefited.




Many people blame the famine on Japanese troops hoarding foodstuff from farmers, forcing them to grow jute instead of rice, thus depriving them of needed food, but in reality France had started the same policy earlier. They had decreased the land set aside for growing staple crops such as maize and potatoes to make land for growing cotton, jute, and other industrial plants. Because of the decreased land available for growing, harvests of staple crops decreased considerably.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_Famine_of_1945

Sam Lord
22-09-2013, 10:00 AM
It has been asserted the 35,000 Germans fought for France in Indochina after WW2. Many were recruited into the French Foreign Legion from prisoner of war campus including Waffen SS.

http://www.militaryimages.net/forums/showthread.php/1545-Forgotten-German-veterans-of-France-s-Vietnam-war

TotalMayhem
22-09-2013, 10:28 AM
Calling it "Britain's war" is rather far fetched. The Allies had to disarm the Japanese forces and restore the French rule and the British had the forces in place to take care of matters.

(Roosevelt, not a great fan of European colonialism, rather had the whole lot handed over to Chiang Kai-shek who was smart enough to refuse)

Sam Lord
22-09-2013, 10:48 AM
Calling it "Britain's war" is rather far fetched. The Allies had to disarm the Japanese forces and restore the French rule and the British had the forces in place to take care of matters.

(Roosevelt, not a great fan of European colonialism, rather had the whole lot handed over to Chiang Kai-shek who was smart enough to refuse)


The Japanese do not appear to have been disarmed, bty. As I pointed out they fought alongside the Brits and the French to keep the Viet Minh down. Of course, restoring French colonial rule was the objective but I can't really see why the Allies "had to" restore French colonial rule. Was it ordained by God? The Chinese took the Japanese surrender in the north but did not feel in any way obliged to hand the place back to France.

TotalMayhem
22-09-2013, 10:52 AM
Many were recruited into the French Foreign Legion from prisoner of war campus including Waffen SS.

The vast majority of SS recruits were in fact French. Members of the SS brigade "Charlemagne" (formerly the Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism) were given the oppotunity to "rehabilitate" themselves in the Foreign Legion. Surely a few German SS soldiers ended up in the Foreign Legion but they had little interest in becoming a refuge for German war criminals.

TotalMayhem
22-09-2013, 10:54 AM
Of course, restoring French colonial rule was the objective but I can't really see why the Allies "had to" restore French colonial rule. Was it ordained by God? The Chinese took the Japanese surrender in the north but did not feel in any way obliged to hand the place back to France.

The Chinese refused to take the Japanese surrender in the South and leaving it to the Commies was not an option.

Sam Lord
22-09-2013, 01:18 PM
The Chinese refused to take the Japanese surrender in the South and leaving it to the Commies was not an option.

I suppose another 30 years of conflict and 2 million dead was the better option.

Sam Lord
22-09-2013, 01:41 PM
The vast majority of SS recruits were in fact French. Members of the SS brigade "Charlemagne" (formerly the Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism) were given the oppotunity to "rehabilitate" themselves in the Foreign Legion. Surely a few German SS soldiers ended up in the Foreign Legion but they had little interest in becoming a refuge for German war criminals.

Estimates of the German make up of the FFL at that time go as high as 50%. I can't speak to the background of all of these and I doubt the French recruiters were particularly interested.