312th Division (Vietnam)

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312th Infantry Division
Active1950-present
Allegiance Vietnam
BranchVietnam People's Army
TypeInfantry
RoleMechanized infantry
SizeDivision
Part of1st Corps
Garrison/HQXuan Mai, Chuong My, Hanoi, Vietnam
Nickname(s)"Chien Thang" ("Victorious")
EngagementsBattle of Vĩnh Yên
Battle of Mạo Khê
Battle of Hòa Bình
Battle of Nà Sản
Battle of Muong Khoua
Battle of Dien Bien Phu
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Lê Trọng Tấn
Hoàng Cầm

The 312th Infantry Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), first formed in October 1950. It was one of the 6 original "Iron and Steel" Divisions of the Viet Minh.

First Indochina War[edit]

The 312th Division was formed in October 1950 and first saw action in January 1951 at the Battle of Vĩnh Yên.[1]: 150 

In late April 1953 General Võ Nguyên Giáp ordered the 312th to threaten Luang Prabang, the division reached the outskirts of the capital on 30 April but were then withdrawn back into Tonkin.[1]: 126–7 

In November 1953 the 312th was positioned near Phú Thọ to protect against any French action in the Red River region.[1]: 257  On 24 December Giap ordered the 312th to move from Phú Thọ to Điện Biên Phủ and by mid January 1954 they were in position in the north-east of the valley.[1]: 260 

Regiments 141 and 209 of the 312th led the initial attack of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, overrunning Strongpoint Beatrice in five hours on the night of 13 March 1954.[1]: 378–86  On the evening 14 March Regiment 165 of the 312th took part in the attack on Strongpoint Gabrielle with Regiment 88 of the 308th Division, by 9am on 15 March Gabrielle had been captured by the Viet Minh.[1]: 397–407  On the night of 30 March Regiments 141 and 209 overran Strongpoints Dominique 2 and 1 respectively.[1]: 460  On the night of 2 April Regiment 165 attacked Strongpoint Huguette 6 but was repulsed.[1]: 487  On 1 May Regiment 141 was tasked with attacking Strongpoint Dominique 3 and by dawn on 2 May had successfully overrun the position.[1]: 581–2  For the final assault on 6 May, the 312th was tasked with attacking the remaining Eliane strongpoints guarding the bridges across the Nam Youm river.[1]: 601  Regiment 165 launched three assaults on Eliane 10 and each time they were repulsed and counter-attacked.[1]: 606  Regiment 141 successfully captured Eliane 12 by midday on 7 May and Eliane 11 by 3pm.[1]: 610  Units of the 312th crossed the Nam Youm on the afternoon of 7 May and moved towards the French central position.[1]: 611  Total estimated losses among the 312th Division at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu are 2170 killed.[2]

Vietnam War[edit]

In June 1966 the Division's 141st and 165th Regiments were transferred to the 7th Infantry Division in the Phước Long area.[3]: 175 

In early 1968 the Division's 209th Regiment was sent to reinforce the Central Highlands front.[3]: 227 

In September 1969 the Division together with the 316th Division took part in Campaign 139 on the Plain of Jars in support of the Pathet Lao dry season offensive.[3]: 254 

From 17 December 1971 to 30 January 1972 the Division and the 316th Division participated in Campaign Z in Laos.[3]: 287 

On 12 July 1972 the Division together with the 325th Division was sent to support the Second Battle of Quảng Trị.[3]: 304 

On 24 October 1973 the PAVN command formed 1st Corps, composed of the Division, the 308th and 338th Divisions, 367th Air Defense Division, 202nd Tank Brigade, 45th Artillery Brigade, 299th Engineer Brigade and the 204th Signal Regiment under the command of Major General Lê Trọng Tấn.[3]: 342 

During the initial phases of the 1975 Spring Offensive, the 1st Corps was held in reserve, however following the Vietnamese Politburo decision to capitalise on the opportunity presented by the collapsing Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), in on 25 March it was ordered to join a general offensive against the South.[4] On 1 April the Division departed Ninh Bình Province and began moving south, then turned west along Route 9 into Laos and down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.[3]: 401  In late April the Division was located north of Saigon and on 30 April it captured Phu Loi Base Camp.[3]: 419 

Post Vietnam War[edit]

Present Day[edit]

Today the division is part of the 1st Corps located in the Red River Delta.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Windrow, Martin (2004). The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 0-297-84671-X.
  2. ^ Fall, Bernard (1985). Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu. Da Capo Group. p. 487. ISBN 0-306-80231-7.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Military History Institute of Vietnam (2002). Victory in Vietnam: A History of the People's Army of Vietnam, 1954–1975. trans. Pribbenow, Merle. University of Kansas Press. ISBN 0-7006-1175-4.
  4. ^ Dougan, Clark; Fulgham, David (1985). The Vietnam Experience: The Fall of the South. Boston Publishing Company. p. 94. ISBN 0-939526-16-6.