Battle of the Day River

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Battle of the Day River
Part of the First Indochina War
De Lattre.jpg
Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, commander of the French forces, who lost his only son in the battle.
DateMay 30 – June 18, 1951
Result French victory
Red River Delta remains under French control

French Fourth Republic French Union

North Vietnam Việt Minh
Commanders and leaders
French Fourth Republic Jean de Lattre de Tassigny North Vietnam Võ Nguyên Giáp

 French Fourth Republic:

3 regimental combat teams, 2 para battalions, 1 dinassaut

 North Vietnam:

Three divisions (only TD 64 of DD 320 took part in action according to Gras[1])
Casualties and losses

 French Fourth Republic:

107 killed

289 wounded[2]

189 missing



 North Vietnam:

French claim:

9,000+ killed or wounded

1,000+ captured

Viet Minh claim:

1,159 killed

287 wounded[3]

154 captured



The Battle of the Day River (French: bataille du Day) took place between late May and early June 1951, around the Day River Delta in the Gulf of Tonkin. Part of the First Indochina War, the battle was the first conventional campaign of Võ Nguyên Giáp, and saw his Việt Minh People's Army of Vietnam (VPA) forces tackle the Catholic-dominated region of the Delta in order to break its resistance to Việt Minh infiltration. On the back of two defeats at similar ventures through March and April that year, Giap led three divisions in a pattern of guerrilla and diversion attacks on Ninh Bình, Nam Định, Phủ Lý and Phat Diem beginning on May 28 which saw the destruction of commando François, a naval commando.[clarification needed]

The French army, under Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, who lost his son in the first day of the battle at Ninh Bình, mobilised three mobile groups (groupements mobiles, similar to regimental combat teams) and two paratrooper battalions as well as one dinassaut,[4] and the ebb and flow of captured and retaken positions continued until Giap's supply lines were cut around June 6. His forces, moving in large numbers and during daylight, were vulnerable to French firepower and to French ground forces supported by friendly local militia. The Việt Minh army units were forced into withdrawing between June 10 and June 18, leaving 1,000 prisoners to the French and 9,000 casualties.[5][6]


  1. ^ Gras, p. 405
  2. ^ Gras, p. 408
  3. ^ Gras, p. 408
  4. ^ Gras, Histoire de la Guerre d'Indochine, p. 407
  5. ^ Windrow, p. 114-115.
  6. ^ Fall, Street Without Joy, p. 45.


  • Fall, Bernard B. (1966). Hell in a Very Small Place. The Siege of Dien Bien Phu. London: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81157-9.
  • Fall, Bernard B. (1961). Street Without Joy. The French Debacle in Indochina. New York: Stackpole Military History. ISBN 978-0-8117-3236-9.
  • Fall, Bernard B. (1967). The Two Vietnams. A Political and Military Analysis (Second ed.). New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc.
  • Roy, Jules (1963). The Battle of Dien Bien Phu. New York: Carroll and Graf Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7867-0958-8.
  • Gras, Yves (1979). Histoire de la Guerre d'Indochine. Paris. ISBN 2-259-00478-4.
  • Windrow, Martin (2004). The Last Valley. Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-304-36692-7.

See also[edit]