French Foreign Legionnaire vs Viet Minh Insurgent...

...North Vietnam 1948-52, from Osprey Publishing

Title: French Foreign Legionnaire versus Viet Minh Insurgent

Author: Martin Windrow

Publisher: Osprey

ISBN: 978-1-4728-2891-0

Number 36 in their Combat series from Osprey is this new title from Martin Windrow, looking at the early period of the war in Vietnam, a period referred to as the French Indochina War (1946-54), and in this case looking at the period 1948-52.

If you have an interest in the Vietnam war I think you will find this one particularly interesting.  Prior to WW2 Vietnam was under French control and in WW2 had been occupied by the Japanese.  With the end of the war and the defeat of the Japanese, the large group of Vietnamese nationalists expected to gain independence but were disappointed to find the French wanting to take back control.  The book starts with an Introduction which sets the scene with the historical context that takes us to the situation covered by the book.  THen we get an examination of the two opposing sides, and a look at the Origins and Combat Roles; Recruitment and Training; Morale and Logistics; Armament and Tactics; along with Leadership and Communications for each of them.

There are then accounts of three particular actions where the conflict began to change.  The French occupied various strongpoints which they used as bases to patrol and attempt to protect the (limited) road network in the Tonkin region, near the Chinese border.  Moving from the tactics of ambushes on the roads, the Vietminh move to planned attacks on those bases.  In particular these are at Phu Tong Hoa, in July 1948, Dong Khe in September 1950 and Na San in December 1952.  In addition to the historical story there are plenty of archive photos, and maps.  Adding the neat colour artwork we expect from Osprey titles, it will also prove useful to modellers as well as wargamers/historians.

They feature both success and failure for the Viet Minh but clearly learning some important lessons that were to lead on to the later success at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, beyond the scope of this particular book.  The stories of all three actions, and the Analysis of them which close the book adds very nicely to the story of what we tend to think of as simply 'The Vietnam War', from this early French period and beyond to the later direct US involvement.  I found it interesting to see this one focussing on the early post-WW2 element.  

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.