Dien Bien Phu 23 March 1954
— Tank-supported "strong j utilities French Troops KilMMeds In Close Fight HANOI, Indochina, March 23.— elements" of Uoops killed 175 Communist rebels in a hand-to- hand battle that ended the lull in ground fighting at Dien Bien Phu, the French high command announced today. The troops struck out of the besieged fortress amid reports that the rebels were starving and might have to make a final assault within the next 48 hours. *" Men 'Me^i-iHW^eonfimafider Col. Christien De Castries' "Little Blitz" hit a Viet Minh company dug in along the four-mile road to the southern outpost of the bastion, only outside strongpoint in the area still held by- the French. high command spokeman said,Sen. fighting occurred yesterday.' day rain of artilery from French Senator batteries in the heart of the for- tress supported the sortie. the 18-ton U. S. supplied j cross-examine approached lied positions dispute rebel troops jumped from trenches with high-pitched yells and were cut down almost instantly by machine gun fire. Military sources did not disclose whether there had been French casualties but said any the after French retired successfully the battle. The rebel company was one of many Viet Minh units which have crept into the Dien Bien Phu basin and dug a maze of trenches. Some have approached within a few yards of the fortress's center. Vit Minh tactics appear to aim a gradual strangling of French to movement on the floor of the basin and follow up with a series of final attacks through'barbed wire and minefields to the French central bunkers. The hunger reports explained the movement in daylight of con- of Russian-made Molotovj crushed from the Reds' northern.tioin in dumps along jungle roads, j could The Communists apparently had over enough food when they were camped around Dien Bien Phu for almost six weeks awaiting to attack. Once they started their assault 11 ago they could spare no men lice, for supply services. In addition, constant French air attacks on truck convoys have interrupted the flow of supplies, the sources said. Unless rebel commander Gen. Nguyen Giap receives enough [Ours," for his men he may beinack to attack during the next demonstration, 48 hours to avoid starvation and loss of everything he has thrown into the bloodiest battle of the entire Indochina war.