Dien Bien Phu 12 December 1953
(m French Give Up Thai City For New Line "Mousetrap" Capital Abandoned, Stand To Be Made On HANOI, Indochina, Dec. 11 UK- The French disclosed today they have evacuated Lai Chau without firing a shot, leaving the Thai tribal capital they had vowed to defend defend to fall like a ripe plum- to the Communist-led Vietminh. Only a few pro-French Thai partisan fighters were left to stand between the sleepy, palm-lined town in northwest Indochina and the bulk of a rebel division when the last of the, French Union garrison pulled out Tuesday. Over vacant buildings, t h e is French flag flew as it had out .the seven-year-old war. Presumably Presumably the rebels have pulled down Ihe flag by now. The French h i g h slaked all upon Ihe newly forlified plain ol Dein Bein Phu, 50 miles south of Lai Chau, to make good -its Pledge to "defend the Thai j counlry"--the mountainous home- Nix-! o[ 300.000 tribesmen now al- if Pakistan in discussions question competent cap- it most wholly in Vietminh hands. Establish New Quarters A temporary capital has been established for Thai President Van Long at Dien Bien Phu, a collection of straw-thatched huts which French parachute troops wrested from the Vietminh three weeks agu. The President was reported reported lo have assented lo Ihe switch. Thousands of fresh troops and huge cargoes of American- supplied w a r equipment were flown in to reinforce French regiments regiments already based on the broad plain around the village. Vielminh division No. 316" had split its forces, with thousands of troops marching northwestward Lai Chau, at the head of navigation navigation on the Black River only 30 miles from Red China's frontier, and other thousands heading southwestward southwestward toward Dien .Bien Phu. The vanguard of the latter force was reported only 15 miles from French entrenchments. The French said Dien Bien Phu will be held against any and all rebel assaults. Explaining the withdrawal from Lai Chau, which a high command spokesman declared only Wednesday Wednesday would be kept in control of French and Thai troops, Gen. Cogny said cryptically: "We do not defend the town itself because it is like a mousetrap. mousetrap. . . . The mousetrap is ready for Uie Vielminh troops."