Vietnam

Quang Tri

In 1954, Ho Chi Minh’s government in the north and the French colonial administration in the south agreed an armistice that involved a ‘temporary’ partition of Vietnam. The Ben Hai River, in the extreme north of Quang Tri province, became the arbitrary line dividing the two halves of the country.

 When the southern ‘government’, backed by the US, reneged on the national elections promised in the agreement, Quang Tri became the theatre where most of the important scenes of the Vietnam War were staged.
From then until the early seventies when the Vietnamese army overwhelmed the defences along the southern edge of the DMZ, Quang Tri was a battlefield, one of the most intensively bombed areas in military history. It left a barren desert created by hundreds of thousands of tons of high explosive, estimated to be the equivalent of seven Hiroshima atom bombs, as well as napalm, phosphorous and herbicide.
Today, nature has reclaimed much of the land, but craters are visible almost everywhere in the area.
 
Vinh Moc Tunnels
Situated 13km east of the national Highway 1A and just 6km away from the sea, Vinh Moc, a place well-known as an underground village designed to avoid bombardments during the American War, has become a favourite destination for foreign tourists, especially American war veterans.
The spectacular tunnel network stands as a testament to the endurance, wisdom and bravery of the local people in their fight for independence. The network's total length is nearly 2km, structured into three floors with the first 13m beneath the ground, the second 15m and the third, 23m. The village was built over two years and required approximately 6,000 m³ of earth to be dug out. It is linked to the sea by seven exits, which also function as ventilators, and to a nearby hill by another six.
The "underground village" was home to 94 families and included wells to supply water, a meeting room for 60 people, toilets, a maternity ward, an operating theatre, rice stores, switchboards and observation posts. The village featured unique Hoang Cam stoves, named after the general who invented the store to allow for underground cooking without emitting smoke, thus evading the discovery by bombers.
Before entering the tunnels, visitors are shown the displays of that brutal period in Vietnam's history. Two photos provide a sharp contrast: one shot in February of 1965 features a peaceful village mushroomed with houses, the other shows the debris of the same village in the wake of devastating bombings. The vitality of the local people is clearly evident in another picture showing 11 children, born inside the tunnels during war time, celebrating on the victory day. In another photo, visitors see a group of four optimistic girls in white shirts singing inside the tunnels. They meet the four again in another picture, wearing the popular green military outfit while on the ground firing at enemy bombers.

The war forced many people to either leave their villages or live beneath the ground. Vinh Moc residents opted for the second solution. As many as 17 children were born in these tunnels between 1967 and 1968.
Few would imagine that the rubber and pepper tree plantations today used to be a fierce battleground from 1966-1972 when Vinh Moc was not only the Northern Vietnam front but also a place to pass food and ammunitions to Con Co Island, 28km away.
The area underwent tens of thousands of tonnes of bombs by U.S warplanes. The invaders wanted to return the area to the "stone age" and launched a destructive war there. It was estimated that local residents endured the equivalent of 500 heavy rockets per day.
In 1976, the Ministry of Culture and Information recognised Vinh Moc as national heritage site and included it in a list of especially important historical sites. To ensure security for visitors, the tunnels were restored with reinforced concrete and internal lightening
 
Quang Tri Citadel
Quang Tri Citadel was built in 1824, during the 4th year of the reign of Minh Mang. The citadel is approximately 60 km north of Hue. The citadel had a style of Vo-bang architecture with its circuit of 2.160 metres – one door each side. There were four fortressed jutting out from each four corners to control the four citadel gates. Inside was the town palace surrounded by a system of thick walls with circuit of 400 metres. The town palace was a three-roomed house whose two wings were used as places for the King to worship, and to give promotions to his inferiors or to occasionally celebrate festivals. Outside the town palace, there were a flagpole and castles such as Tuan Vu, An Sat and Lanh Binh and a rice store, etc and under the French domination, soldier camp and tax agency were added. However there are no remains of the past there nowadays – due to the destruction of U.S bombs in the hot summer of 1972.
The incident of 81 days and nights (from June 28 to September 16, 1972) has made this citadel well-known all over the world. By using fire-power, the South Vietnam puppet troop was determined to re-occupy Quang Tri old citadel within a couple of days. Quang Tri town, therefore, had to suffer from the U.S bombardment and shelling of 140 B52 aircraft in turn, more than 200 tactical planes, 12 – 16 fighter planes and cruisers. Within 40 days and nights it had suffered 80,000 tons of bombs – as many as that in the World War II in African battlefield within a month. Sometimes the number of bombs dropped in Quang Tri a day was far more than that on the whole South battlefield in the years of 1968-1969.
Quang Tri Citadel was built in 1824, during the 4th year of the reign of Minh Mang. The citadel is approximately 60 km north of Hue.
The citadel had a style of Vo-bang architecture with its circuit of 2.160 metres – one door each side. There were four fortressed jutting out from each four corners to control the four citadel gates. Inside was the town palace surrounded by a system of thick walls with circuit of 400 metres. The town palace was a three-roomed house whose two wings were used as places for the King to worship, and to give promotions to his inferiors or to occasionally celebrate festivals. Outside the town palace, there were a flagpole and castles such as Tuan Vu, An Sat and Lanh Binh and a rice store, etc and under the French domination, soldier camp and tax agency were added. However there are no remains of the past there nowadays – due to the destruction of U.S bombs in the hot summer of 1972.
The incident of 81 days and nights (from June 28 to September 16, 1972) has made this citadel well-known all over the world. By using fire-power, the South Vietnam puppet troop was determined to re-occupy Quang Tri Old Citadel within a couple of days. Quang Tri Town, therefore, had to suffer from the U.S bombardment and shelling of 140 B52 aircraft in turn, more than 200 tactical planes, 12 – 16 fighter planes and cruisers. Within 40 days and nights it had suffered 80,000 tons of bombs – as many as that in the World War II in African battlefield within a month. Sometimes the number of bombs dropped in Quang Tri a day was far more than that on the whole South battlefield in the years of 1968-1969.
Especially, on July 25, there were 5,000 shells fired at an area of 3 square km2 of Quang Tri and its vicinity once suffered 20,000 shells of big size a day. The US aggressors used bombs and shells with their destructive capacity, to destroy Quang Tri, equivalent to 7 atomic bombs the they dropped onto Hiroshima and Nagasaki – Japan in 1945. It is, really, unbelievable that each inhabitant in this land had to suffer 7 tons of bombs averagely. Also, this has proved that ours is a heroic nation – for 81 days and nights, the whole Quang Tri Old Citadel had been shaking by U.S bombs and shells, and it was at the same time, the whole Vietnamese people turned towards their undaunted Quang Tri Old Citadel, following every step of our liberation armed forces. All were determined, side by side with Quang Tri to fight to their last breath. The Northern people had saved everything such as: ammunition, food and etc. to send to Quang Tri. Thousands and thousands of young men joined the army to go to the front. Many among those have been gone forever in this Quang Tri land.
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