17 October 2005
The Viet-Minh, like their later counterparts the Viet Cong and the Vietnamese People's Army(aka the North Vietnamese Army), have kind of a faceless, anomynous quality of menace in the West, especially in the US and France. This picture, while not intentionally so at the time it was originally taken and edited, is my little attempt to correct some of those impressions. For those of you with sharp eyes, you may note that the character depicted here wears a French Adrian 1916 helmet, French webbing and carries a Berthier 08/15 rifle. While by the time of the battle of Dien Bien Phu in February-May 1954, most of the Viet Minh soldiery carried a mix of Soviet, Chinese, American and other weaponry, and wore home-made helmets made from palm leaves, there were those Viet Minh soldiers who still wore whatever left-over pre-WWII French uniforms, helmets, what have you, that the Viet Minh initially wore, as well as left-over Japanese and other items and weapons, between 1945-47. These would be supplemented over the course of the French Indochina War with American, British, Soviet, Chinese and other materiel, either supplied by the Soviet Union and Communist China(after 1949), bought on the international black market, or captured from the hands of the French and their Indochinese allies.