Dien Bien Phu
DECEMBER 11, 1955 French Troops Withdrawing Leave Lai Chan Withotil Firing Shot HANOI, Indochina #-fhfi French announced today they have pulled their troops out of Vtetmiftft- threatened Lai Chau, capital Of the Thai tribal country in ftofth- west Indochina, without firing a shot Announcement of the evacuation three days ago came after repeated repeated French assertions Lai Chau would be staunchly defended against the Communist-led rebels. Brig. Gen. Rene Cogny, edm- mander of French forces in north Indochina, proclaimed Dien Bien Phu, 180 miles west of Hanoi and 50 miles south of Lai Chau, as the "new capital" of the Thai country. French paratroopers seized Dien Bien Phu from the Vietminh in a daring drop Nov. 21. Some 3,500 civilian residents of Lai Chau already had been evacuated evacuated to Hanoi and Dien Bien Phu in anticipation of an attack by the crack Vietminh Division 316, which had been reported marching on Lai Chau. The Reds were expected to lose no time in entering the abandoned Thai capital. The French conceded its fall would give the rebels a "prestige success." Cogny said, however, the military military evacu'alion of Lai Chau had been approved by Deo Van Long, president of the confederation of the 300,000 Thai peoples. The French commander termed Lai Chau a "mousetrap." It is wedged between high mountains at the junction of three rivers flowing flowing from Communist China. (The Vielminh radio, ^ heard In Hong Kong, claimed 'the rebel forces already had engaged the French in heavy fighting in the Lai Chau area and that 715 French Union troops had been killed. The advance along a road in the region region "has been slow due to heavy enemy troop concentrations," the Vietminh radio said.)' Dien Bien Phu remained the last major French stronghold in the 10,000-square-mile territory of the pro-French Thai mountain tribesmen. tribesmen.