View the H-War Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-War's February 2010 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-War's February 2010 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-War home page.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Major Edgar O'Ballance who over the wrote a substantial number of very useful books had in his obituary (died JUL09) in The Times (of London) the following that is of relevance : "His leading work, The Indo-China War 1946-54 (Faber, 1965), significantly raised his game. The sub-title - A Study in Guerrilla Warfare - indicates lessons as relevant today as half a century ago. Counter-insurgency measures against a well-structured nationalist opponent, as distinct from a minority political faction such as the Chinese communists in Malaya, is unwinnable other than by a ruthless repression unacceptable to Western democracies. O'Ballance reminded his readers that the French deployment to the isolated position of Dien Bien Phu was not just to draw the main Viet Minh force to battle but rather to block its route into Laos. This book was arguably his best, and remains useful to all, from heads of government down to infantry section commanders." It was probable that he was the first Western journalist with substantial military experience to have contact with the North Vietnamese military hierarchy, meeting with Gap himself over a period of a week. He wrote a very interesting review of his meeting Ho Chi Min in a sea side chalet, that was published in a issue of the Sunday Times Magazine (London) in late 1963. A number of correspondents wrote re the use of B52 'ARCHLIGHT' strikes in support of the defence of the USMC garrison, but, the after battle reports and subsequent articles/correspondence in the Marine Corps Gazette and other publications made it quite clear that the "very close" to troops air to ground support by the USMC Air Wings was a major if not the major contribution to the garrison surviving. The USAF, US Army and SVNAF provided a substantial support, but unlike the Marines was not able to provide the very intimate close support needed. The descriptions of the trench fighting are very reminiscent to desperate fighting on the British Western Front in 1917. No 2 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force is always singled out for the quite incredible close support that they gave the Marines whilst flying Australian built versions of the British Canberra B2/B6 light bomber, being at times superior to that the Marine Aviation putting eight 500/750 pound bombs precisely onto the designated target constantly (they having early 1950 electronics, and WWII bombsights fitted). As an aside, the writing of all who served within the perimeter of Khe Sanh, make mention of the vast hordes of rats, living off the equally vast number of unburied North Vietnamese corpses. The medical literature tells us of the problems pertaining to the water supply in the garrison, and the battle to decontaminate the vector of rat borne disease, the danger to the troops from rat bites and urine contaminated food etc. Since the 1980's in various professional journals mention has been and is made of the long term psychiatric problems to the men from the vast (and it is the only word to use) plague of the creatures, especially with the certain knowledge by the Marines that they were destroying human remains. Whilst not acknowledged as a major problem during the siege, in its latter stages space was made on the airlift for Warfarin based rat bait to reduce the problem, and I have seen figures of between 35-188 tons of bait being delivered (probably the higher figure indicates that delivered after the siege lifted. Whatever the amount it would appear to have had zero effect. A sister with her husband in DEC-JAN has been on a visit to Vietnam, with the tours taking in Dien Bien Phu, and Khe Sanh. The tour guide a former NVA officer whilst (in her words) literally crowing at DBP, was not so at Khe Sanh. He getting on well with my brother in law and a relationship developed when he had learned that he been a Canadian infantry officer who served with the International Control Commission, and when comment made upon the number of rats seen running around the area of the former airfield, stated that they lived underground and still had the remains and such like of those who died to live on. When asked how many died, he just shrugged. Both getting the distinct impression of the large human cost to the NVA. Having had over the years close relationships with men who served with the Australian Army Training Team Viet-Nam, whilst serving and since, who had been with various USSF and ARVN units in the area of Khe Sanh over the period have been universal in their opinion of that the NVA within the area was a beaten organisation. And various reports submitted at the time to HQ AATTV reinforce this. O'Ballance whilst little known in the US (various Canadian Forces schools used a number of his texts) had his four books on the Israeli - Arab situation as standard recommended reading for personnel who were deployed to the various UN missions in the area as UN observers or staff officers, and again from his OBIT : " A year in Palestine with the Lincolnshire Regiment 1947-48, when he was mentioned in dispatches, influenced his first book The Arab-Israeli War: 1948-9 published by Faber in 1956. He wrote three more books on this intractable conflict: The Sinai Campaign: 1956 (1959), The Third Arab-Israeli War (1972), both by Faber, and The Palestinian Intifada (Macmillan 1997). " His 1956 book is the best, and its description of the botched Israeli operations at the Mitla Pass (Hittan Defile) is spot on. And a tactical "war walk" with map and compass and book in hand makes it perfectly clear. The Israeli Army in the 1960's had translated into Hebrew (without his permission), and it becoming obligatory reading for all combat arms officers of the Israeli Defence Force in the 1960's-70's. It took O'Ballance many years to get royalties paid for the non authorised publication!!!! Yours, G/. Gordon Angus Mackinlay <email@example.com> ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----