France scrambled to reassert itself in its former South East Asian colonies after the Second World War, but it proved an uphill struggle against an already well establish communist powerbase in north Vietnam under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh. France’s initial attempts at conciliation (the independence of Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam Republic was officially recognised in Paris) soon floundered when it became clear that French ideas of ‘independence’ did not match those of the Vietnamese Nationalists and Communists who came to be referred to as the Viet Minh. Guerrilla warfare broke out and French troops found themselves embroiled in an escalating insurgency conflict.
Between 1946 and 1949 the French held their own, but the intensity of the war increased and by 1950 the Viet Minh were receiving growing support from the USSR and China in both war materials and training. The French system of fort-based cordon defence proved inadequate as large numbers of well equipped, trained, and highly motivated Viet Minh guerrillas launched major assaults from the jungle highlands – forcing the French to abandon north Vietnam. The military situation improved briefly for France at the end of 1950 with a great deal of the lost territory being regained, but French control over these areas proved to be tenuous and their fortunes swung back and forth during 1951 and 1952 as the balance of the war slowly tilted in favour of the increasingly confident Viet Minh. The war culminated in the epic Siege of Dien Bien Phu (1953) when the French attempted to draw the Viet Minh out into an open, set piece battle, in which they hoped to destroy their elusive opponent. However, the Viet Minh turned the tables on the French, assembling troops and artillery on a scale the French had not envisaged, and some 15,000 French soldiers found themselves surrounded and cut off. The siege lasted six agonising months with scenes reminiscent of the trench warfare of World War One. Frantic French attempts to relieve and resupply the garrison proved ultimately hopeless – as ammunition and food steadily ran out. When the Viet Minh finally overran the garrison, only 73 French soldiers managed to escape. Dien Bien Phu effectively marked the end of French influence in Indo-China.
For those wanting to learn more about the tactical and operations side of the French Indo-China War, we found these websites and web articles interesting – start with the excellent –
Our new 15mm range provides you with all the troop types needed to fight these bitter battles. The majority of the French forces doing the fighting were provided by the Foreign Legion, other colonial units, and French trained indigenous soldiers. The “Legionnaires” of out catalogue listing will cover all these as their equipment – much of it straight out of World War Two – was universal. The Viet Minh come with a variety of suitable communist block supplied weaponry and captured material.
Here are the catalogue details for the new miniatures –
NEW 15mm French Indo-China War Sculpted by Mike Broadbent Number in parenthesis denotes the number of variants. Variants are supplied randomly
French Foreign Legion 300ICW01 Legionnaire in helmet with MAS 36 (6) 300ICW02 Legionnaire in helmet with MAT 49 (2) 300ICW03 Legionnaire and No.2 in helmet with FM24/29 LMG – 2 figures (1) 300ICW03a Legionnaire in helmet with FM24/29 LMG (1) 300ICW04 Legionnaire Officer in helmet (2) 300ICW05 Legionnaire Radio Operator in helmet (1) 300ICW05a Legionnaire with radio telephone in helmet (1) 300ICW06 Legionnaire 30.cal HMG team in helmet – 2 figures (1) 300ICW07 Legionnaire 80mm Mortar team in helmet – 3 figures (1) 300ICW08 Legionnaire 60mm Mortar team in helmet – 2 figures (1) 300ICW09 Legionnaire 57mm recoilless rifle team – 2 figures in helmet (1) 300ICW10 Legionnaire in helmet with M1 Carbine (2) 300ICW11 Legionnaire in bush hat with MAS 36 (6) 300ICW12 Legionnaire in bush hat with MAT 49 (2) 300ICW13 Legionnaire and No.2 in bush hat with FM24/29 LMG – 2 figures (1) 300ICW13a Legionnaire in bush hat with FM24/29 LMG (1) 300ICW14 Legionnaire Officer in bush hat (2) 300ICW15 Legionnaire Radio Operator in bush hat (1) 300ICW15a Legionnaire with radio telephone in bush hat (1) 300ICW16 Legionnaire 30.cal HMG team in bush hat – 2 figures (1) 300ICW17 Legionnaire 80mm Mortar team in bush hat – 3 figures (1) ) 300ICW18 Legionnaire 60mm Mortar team in bush hat – 2 figures (1) 300ICW19 Legionnaire 57mm recoilless rifle team – 2 figures in bush hat (1) 300ICW20 Legionnaire in bush hat with M1 Carbine (2)
Viet Minh 300ICW30 Viet Minh with rifles- MAS36, SMLE and Type 99 (8) 300ICW31 Viet Minh with SMG – MAT49, Type 50 and Thompson (4) 300ICW32 Viet Minh with DP LMG (2) 300ICW33 Viet Minh Type 92 HMG – 2 figures (1) 300ICW34 Viet Minh Bazooka team – 2 figures (1) 300ICW35 Viet Minh 60mm mortar and crew – 2 figures (1) 300ICW36 Viet Minh 80mm mortar and crew – 3 figures (1) 300ICW37 Viet Minh mortar/artillery crewman (3) 300ICW38 Viet Minh Bugler (2) 300ICW39 Viet Minh Standard Bearer (2) 300ICW40 Viet Minh Officer (2)