Christian de Castries

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Christian de Castries
Dien Bien Phu001.jpg
Born 11 August 1902 (1902-08-11)
Paris, France
Died 29 July 1991(1991-07-29) (aged 88)
Paris, France
Allegiance France
Service/branch French Army
Years of service 1921-1959
Rank General de brigade
Commands held Mobile Group 2
Mobile Group 1
Operational Group North-West
Battles/wars World War II
First Indochina War
*Battle of Dien Bien Phu

Christian Marie Ferdinand de la Croix de Castries (11 August 1902 – 29 July 1991) was the French commander at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

Biography[edit]

Castries was born into a distinguished military family, the House of Castries, and enlisted in the army at the age of 19. He was sent to the Saumur Cavalry School and in 1926 was commissioned an officer but later resigned to devote himself to equestrian sports. After rejoining the army at the start of World War II, he was captured (1940), escaped from a German prison-of-war camp (1941), and fought with the Allied forces in North Africa, Italy, the south of France and finally, during the invasion of Southern Germany

In 1946 Castries, soon to become a lieutenant colonel, was sent to Indochina. He was wounded and spent a year recuperating in France before returning to Vietnam as a full colonel. In December 1953 he was charged with defending Dien Bien Phu against the Viet Minh and was given a field promotion to brigadier general. After an eight-week siege, the garrison was defeated. The French were overrun by the Viet Minh forces on 7 May 1954, effectively ending the First Indochina War and the French presence in Southeast Asia. Castries was held prisoner for four months while an armistice agreement was reached in Geneva. He retired from the military in 1959.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Martin Windrow, 'The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam' Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 2004 ISBN 0-297-84671-X