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Wikipedia:Today's featured article/January 13, 2009

French Union paratroops dropping into Dien Bien Phu

The Battle of Dien Bien Phu was the climactic battle of the First Indochina War between French Union forces and Viet Minh communist revolutionary forces. The battle occurred between March and May 1954, and culminated in a massive French defeat that effectively ended the war. The French undertook to create an air-supplied base at Dien Bien Phu, deep in the hills of Vietnam, in order to cut off Viet Minh supply lines into the neighboring French protectorate of Laos. The Viet Minh, under General Vo Nguyen Giap, surrounded and besieged the French, who were unaware of the Viet Minh's possession of heavy artillery. The Viet Minh occupied the highlands around Dien Bien Phu, and were able to fire down accurately onto French positions. Tenacious fighting on the ground ensued, reminiscent of the trench warfare of World War I. The French repeatedly repulsed Viet Minh assaults on their positions. Supplies and reinforcements were delivered by air, although as the French positions were overrun and the anti-aircraft fire took its toll, fewer and fewer of those supplies reached them. After a two month siege, the garrison was overrun and most French surrendered. Shortly after the battle, the war ended with the 1954 Geneva accords, under which France agreed to withdraw from its former Indochinese colonies. (more...)

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