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The 1881 Haiphong typhoon was a typhoon that struck Haiphong, in Dai Nam (now Vietnam), and the northern part of the Captaincy General of the Philippines (now the Philippines) on October 8, 1881. About 300000 people were killed in and around Haiphong by the typhoon alone (casualties likely went up even in the storm's passing due to disease and starvation).
In March 1945, Japan launched the Second French Indochina Campaign to oust the Vichy French and formally installed Emperor Bảo Đại as head of the nominally independent Empire of Vietnam. The Japanese arrested and imprisoned most of the French officials and military officers remaining in the country.
Japanese forces allowed the Việt Minh and other nationalist groups to take over public buildings and weapons without resistance, which began the August Revolution. On August 25, Hồ Chí Minh was able to persuade Emperor Bảo Đại to abdicate. Bảo Đại was appointed "supreme advisor" to the new Việt Minh-led government in Hanoi.
Following the August Revolution (1945) organized by the Việt Minh, Hồ Chí Minh became Chairman of the Provisional Government (Premier of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam) and issued a Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
On September 13, 1945, a Franco-British task force landed in Java, main island of the Dutch East Indies (for which independence was being sought by Sukarno), and Saigon, capital of Cochinchina (southern part of French Indochina), both being occupied by the Japanese and ruled by Field Marshal Hisaichi Terauchi, Commander-in-Chief of Japan's Southern Expeditionary Army Group based in Saigon.
Allied troops in Saigon were an airborne detachment, two British companies of the Indian 20th Infantry Division and the French 5th Colonial Infantry Regiment, with British General Sir Douglas Gracey as supreme commander. The latter proclaimed martial law on September 21. The following night the Franco-British troops took control of Saigon.
On 23 September 1945, with the knowledge of the British commander in Saigon, French forces overthrew the local DRV (the Democratic Republic of Vietnam) government, and declared French authority restored in Cochinchina.
In Saigon, with violence between rival Vietnamese factions and French forces increasing, the British commander, General Sir Douglas Gracey, declared martial law. On 24 September, the Việt Minh leaders responded with a call for a general strike.
On October 9, 1945, General Leclerc arrived in Saigon, accompanied by French Colonel Massu's March Group (Groupement de marche). Leclerc's primary objectives were to restore public order in south Vietnam and to militarize Tonkin (north Vietnam). Secondary objectives were to wait for French backup in view to take back Chinese-occupied Hanoi, then to negotiate with the Việt Minh officials.
When Chiang forced the French to give the French concessions in Shanghai back to China in exchange for withdrawing from northern Indochina, he had no choice but to sign an agreement with France on 6 March 1946 in which Vietnam would be recognized as an autonomous state in the Indochinese Federation and the French Union. The agreement soon broke down.
On November 23, 1946, the French fleet began a naval bombardment of the Vietnamese sections of Haiphong that killed over 6,000 Vietnamese civilians in one afternoon. The Việt Minh quickly agreed to a cease-fire and left the cities. This is known as the Haiphong incident.
The bombardment of Haiphong by French forces at Hanoi only strengthened the belief that France had no intention of allowing an autonomous, independent state in Vietnam. The bombardment of Haiphong reportedly killed more than 6000 Vietnamese civilians. French forces marched into Hanoi, now the capital city of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
On January 13, 1951, Giáp moved the 308th and 312th Divisions, made up of over 20,000 men, to attack Vĩnh Yên, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Hanoi, which was manned by the 6,000-strong 9th Foreign Legion Brigade.
On March 23, Giáp tried again, launching an attack against Mạo Khê, 20 miles (32 km) north of Haiphong. The 316th Division, composed of 11,000 men, with the partly rebuilt 308th and 312th Divisions in reserve, went forward and were beaten in bitter hand-to-hand fighting against French troops. Giap withdrew, having lost around 500 troops (by Việt Minh estimation) to over 3,000 (by French estimation) dead and wounded by March 28.
Giáp launched yet another attack, the Battle of the Day River, on May 29 with the 304th Division at Phủ Lý, the 308th Division at Ninh Bình, and the main attack delivered by the 320th Division at Phat Diem south of Hanoi.
On July 31, French General Charles Chanson was assassinated during a propaganda suicide attack at Sa Đéc in South Vietnam that was blamed on the Việt Minh although it was argued in some quarters that Cao Đài nationalist Trình Minh Thế could have been involved in its planning.
In the Battle of Nà Sản, starting on October 2, French commanders began using "hedgehog" tactics, consisting in setting up well-defended outposts to get the Việt Minh out of the jungle and force them to fight conventional battles instead of using guerrilla tactics.
On October 17, 1952, Giáp launched attacks against the French garrisons along Nghĩa Lộ, northwest of Hanoi, and overran much of the Black River valley, except for the airfield of Nà Sản where a strong French garrison entrenched.
Operation Castor was launched on November 20, 1953, with 1,800 men of the French 1st and 2nd Airborne Battalions dropping into the valley of Điện Biên Phủ and sweeping aside the local Việt Minh garrison. The paratroopers gained control of a heart-shaped valley 12 miles (19 km) long and 8 miles (13 km) wide surrounded by heavily wooded hills. Encountering little opposition, the French and Tai units operating from Lai Châu to the north patrolled the hills.
The Battle of Dien Bien Phu occurred in 1954 between Việt Minh forces under Võ Nguyên Giáp, supported by China and the Soviet Union, and the French Union's French Far East Expeditionary Corps, supported by US financing and Indochinese allies. The battle was fought near the village of Điện Biên Phủ in northern Vietnam and became the last major battle between the French and the Vietnamese in the First Indochina War.
With French supply lines interrupted, the French position became untenable, particularly when the advent of the monsoon season made dropping supplies and reinforcements by parachute difficult. With defeat imminent, the French sought to hold on until the opening of the Geneva peace meeting on April 26. The last French offensive took place on May 4, but it was ineffective. The Việt Minh then began to hammer the outpost with newly supplied Soviet Katyusha rockets and other weaponry provided by communist allies.
The final fall took two days, May 6 and 7, during which the French fought on but were eventually overrun by a huge frontal assault. General Cogny, based in Hanoi, ordered General de Castries, who was commanding the outpost, to cease fire at 5:30 pm and to destroy all materiél (weapons, transmissions, etc.) to deny their use to the enemy. A formal order was given to not use the white flag so that the action would be considered a ceasefire instead of a surrender. Much of the fighting ended on May 7; however, the ceasefire was not respected on Isabelle, the isolated southern position, where the battle lasted until May 8, 1:00 am.
In 1954, after the crushing defeat of French Union forces at Battle of Dien Bien Phu, 2300 French soldiers died during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu more than 10000 french soldiers have surrendered to Vieth Minh. France gave up its fight against the Việt Minh, losing 70,000 soldiers from the eight years of the First Indochina War.
One month after Điện Biên Phủ, the composite Groupe Mobile 100 (GM100) of the French Union forces evacuated the An Khê outpost and was ambushed by a larger Việt Minh force at the Battle of Mang Yang Pass from June 24 to July 17.
In August 1954, in support to the French navy and the merchant navy, the U.S. Navy launched Operation Passage to Freedom and sent hundreds of ships, including USS Montague, in order to evacuate non-communist—especially Catholic—Vietnamese refugees from North Vietnam following the July 20, 1954, armistice and partition of Vietnam.
In a referendum on the future of the State of Vietnam on 23 October 1955, Diệm rigged the poll supervised by his brother Ngô Đình Nhu and was credited with 98.2 percent of the vote, including 133% in Saigon. His American advisors had recommended a more modest winning margin of "60 to 70 percent." Diệm, however, viewed the election as a test of authority.