Photos The French In Indochina


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French paratrooper (5ème BPVN) during operation "Chaumière" in Indochina, April 1952.
Paratroopers of the French Army's 35th Parachute Light Artillery Regiment (35e régiment d’artillerie légère parachutiste) operate a 75mm recoilless cannon during Operation Castor. Dien Bien Phu, French Indochina, Dec 1953.
Lt. Col. Marcel Bigeard (1916-2010) in French Indochina, 1954. Veteran of World War II, Indochina and Algeria, he would become a four-star general and one of the most decorated military leaders of France.
Lt. Col. Marcel Bigeard (1916-2010) in French Indochina, 1954. Veteran of World War II, Indochina and Algeria, he would become a four-star general and one of the most decorated military leaders of France.
French Honors

Foreign Honors

General Bigeard was awarded 27 citations, including 19 palms and 8 stars.
Captured French soldiers, escorted by Vietnamese troops, walk to a prisoner-of-war camp in Dien Bien Phu, 1954
Paratroopers of the 1st BPVN aboard the seventh C47 Dakota plane of the first wave. The paras use the " Guénau " helmet , theoretically reserved for training, the large Bergam backpack and the leg bag containing ammunition, collective weapons, medical equipment or radio. In the background, the shirtless jumping master awaiting the green light.

Paratroopers from the 1er Bataillon de Parachutistes Vietnamiens (1er BPVN) jumping over Tay Ninh, during Operation Chaumière, 25 April 1952

60mm mortar of the 1er BPVN

Near the forge of a clandestine arms factory in Viet Minh, a lieutenant of the 1er BPVN broadcasts his orders through a radio station of the SCR 300 type. On the left, his radio operator wearing the device's headphones around the neck.

A paratrooper in the 1st BPVN armed with an American M1A1 rifle (folding stock) carefully inspects a Viet Minh clandestine factory to detect traps, mines or any hostile presence.

A paratrooper from the 1st BPVN was injured in the abdomen by a mine explosion. He is being bandaged by a sergeant-nurse before being evacuated on a stretcher.

A paratrooper from the 1st BPVN armed with a MAS 36 LG 48 rifle (48 mm grenade launcher) and his grenades riding a buffalo, under the amused eye of his companions.

1er BPVN group the layers containing the canopies of the parachutes (after a brief fold) for their reconditioning for the next airborne operation.
Blimey, that second photo of the parachutes down of the French para's is a bloody eye opener! Anyone notice the parachutist in the center with the streamer!! ?? That probably left a mark--in the ground and on his body!! As low as they are and you can see the tree tops in the bottom right, that chap hasn't even begun to deploy his reserve to slow his decent and he's caught up with the lower jumpers in the foreground--OUCH!! :eek:
This started as mop-up operation carried out by the 22e BTA (22e Bataillon de Tirailleurs Algériens / 22nd Algerian Shooting-Skirmisher Battalion), from 6 to 8 October 1950, launched following the footsteps of an enemy formation that massacred the garrison of a small post of observation in the region of Tra Vinh, in Cochinchina (Southern Vietnam).

The battalion excavated the ruins of the post towers that the Viet-Minh blew up, finding political leaflets from the Viet-Minh commissariat. The battalion advanced through rice fields and undergrowth to a suspicious point, where a violent and very up-close Viet-Minh ambush began, but was stopped abruptly by the tirailleurs' response, ending in hand-to-hand combat.

The battalion regrouped, caring for the wounded, investigating Viet-Minh corpses, and interrogating Viet-Minh guerrillas taken prisoner. After a moment of rest, the battalion made its painful return through difficult terrain until it joined up with one of the RECs (Régiment Étranger de Cavalerie / Foreign Cavalry Regiment) equipped with amphibious Weasel M29C vehicles (called "Crabes" by the French), and finally their respective return to their base.

In the Tra Vinh region, the 22nd BTA tirailleurs search the ruins of a small observation post destroyed overnight by the Viet-Minh. In the foreground, a tirailleur armed with the MAS 38 submachine gun .

Algerian Tirailleurs excavate the rubble from the small observation post. The soldiers, armed with MAS 36 rifles, prick the bayonet into the ground to probe the ground and stir the ashes carefully, as the presence of traps is likely.

Vietnamese propaganda leaflets abandoned by a "Can Bo" (political commissioner in charge of indoctrination of the population) are seized by the soldiers of the 22nd BTA in the ruins of a small observation post in the region of Tra Vinh, to be forwarded to the battalion's intelligence officer .

A company of Algerian tirailleurs from the 22e BTA is struggling through a rice paddy during the operation.

The fire base of the combat group, armed with an FM Châtellerault 24/29, unleashes suppressive fire to break the assault of the Viet-Minh.

The tirailleurs repel a frontal attack by Viet-Minh elements. A projectile (a rifle grenade) explodes in the rice field, raising a column of water.

Algerian Tirailleurs are frontally assaulted and open fire to stop the attack of the "Du Kich" (Viet-Minh guerrillas) during a clash in Tra Vinh, October 1950. A French rifle grenade explodes close-by before hand-to-hand combat ensues.

At the end of the brief but violent confrontation with Viêt-Minh, a 22nd BTA tirailleur quenches the thirst of one of his injured companions. The latter, lying on a stretcher and bandaged quickly, kept his MAS 38 submachine gun with him.

While his comrades contemplate the extent of the damage, a 22e BTA tirailleur, armed with a MAS 36 rifle, remains covered and housed in the ruins of the destroyed small observation post, whose weak garrison has been slaughtered and the infrastructure dynamited or set on fire.
Parachute drop of the 2nd Battalion, 1er RCP (1er Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes, Major de Bréchignac), on the beach around Quang-Tri during Operation Camargue, in Annam, 28-30 July 1953

A GA 2 squadron of the 1er REC equipped with LVT-4 "Alligator" amphibious vehicles returning to Nam-Dinh during Operation Auvergne, June 1954
The sergeants of the squadron wear the black "képi" of the NCOs, while the légionnaires use the famous "képi blanc". The Vietnamese auxiliaries have the white beret, since they did not meet Legion contractual obligations for the képi blanc.

Amphibious vehicle LVT-4 "Alligator" (howitzer version) of the GA 2 of the 1er REC in a parking lot during Operation Auvergne.
The tower has the French Flame Grenade with seven flames.

Amphibious vehicle Weasel M29 "Crabe" from GA 2 of the 1st REC at the lookout during Operation Auvergne. It has a crab on the bow, the symbol of amphibian groups.

A crew of the GA 2 1er REC Weasel M29 "Crab" in the sand ready to depart on a new mission during Operation Auvergne. One of these vehicles, with the same badge as the 1st REC, is preserved in the Museum of Armored Vehicles in Saumur.

An amphibious LVT-4 "Alligator" (howitzer version) of the GA 2 of the 1er REC leaves the river to reach a parking lot during Operation Auvergne.

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