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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 May, 2004, 23:26 GMT 00:26 UK
In pictures: Return to Dien Bien Phu
A french tank at Dien Bien Phu
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This week marks the 50th anniversary of the battle at Dien Bien Phu. Atop a tranquil hill in Vietnam, the raw memories of war amid red-earth trenches and barbed wire are still vivid for the elderly men who make the pilgrimage to remember.
Old soldiers return to Dien Bien Phu
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The Viet Minh, Vietnam's guerrilla army, started its insurgency against French occupation in 1946. Until the battle at Dien Bien Phu, France believed it was winning; however, this encounter ultimately led to the end of France's colonisation of Indochina.
General Vo Nguyen Giap at Dien Bien Phu
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The stunning victory by a peasant Vietnamese army, led by General Vo Nguyen Giap (pictured), against one of the modern world's military giants served as a historic wakeup call, one that the US ignored during its own involvement in Vietnam.
General Vo Nguyen Giap salutes
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General Vo Nguyen Giap is considered the military mastermind who defeated the French and succeeding American armies. Now aged 92, he and many other veterans have returned to the scene of one of history's greatest military victories.
Do The Dau shows off his artificial leg
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One member of the Viet Minh army who defeated the French is Do The Dau, 77, from Thai Binh. He lost his leg during the engagement and now proudly shows his artificial leg.
Nguyen Tieu at his home
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Nguyen Tieu, 79, who still lives near to the battleground, shows off a US-made pack he got from a French soldier. "Fighting the enemy and rebuilding my country, they were both my tasks. I was a soldier and a farmer for my country."
Vo Hung Son, 51, reaches to touch his fathers name on a wall of names of soldiers killed during war with the French
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After nearly 60 days of fighting Dien Bien Phu fell to the Viet Minh on 7 May. The price of victory was high, with over 20,000 Vietnamese casualties and at least 2,000 of the French garrison killed and many more taken prisoners following their surrender.




Compiled by BBC Monitoring


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