History of Southeast Asia

History of Southeast Asia


Episode 64: The First Indochina War, Part 1

April 01, 2019

This is the first in what will be a series of episodes about the Indochina Wars, which afflicted Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos for more than forty years (1945-1989). Today we introduce the scene and the characters in 1945-46, between the end of World War II and the beginning of what is officially called the First Indochina War.

OSS team with the Viet Minh.

During World War II, The United States gave aid to anyone fighting the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan), and that included communists. As a result, the US Army's intelligence agency, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), sent a team into Vietnam in July 1945, and they gave the Viet Minh equipment and guerrilla training. Among those standing in this picture, Ho Chi Minh is the third from the left. The individual wearing a tie is Vo Nguyen Giap, the Viet Minh military commander. Between Ho and Giap is the OSS team leader, Major Allison Thomas.

Indochina in 1945.

Indochina was temporarily partitioned in late 1945 and early 1946, until the French returned to re-occupy their colony. Judging from the western border's location, this must have happened before Thailand gave back the Laotian and Cambodian provinces it took in 1941.

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