In 1954, The Geneva Agreement divided Vietnam at the seventeenth parallel. According to the terms of the Geneva Agreements, Vietnam was only divided temporarily, after two years, Vietnam would hold Nationwide Elections to unify the land.
In South Vietnam, the United States led Ngô Đình Diệm to return South Vietnam and create a lackey regime, aimed at prolonging the division of the nation.
After taking office in 1954, Ngô Đình Diệm stated that he did not accept the Geneva Agreement and refused to participate in the General Election, as well as refusing every proposal for normalizing the relations between the South and the North.
Diệm acted to divide the revolutionary forces in the South and the North. From 1955, Saigon regime mobilized the ranger forces, intelligence forces to hunt for traces of the road system which The Party and Vietnamese People used to assist the southern battlefield during the resistance war against French colonialism.
In early 1956, several initial reports from the Army Security Office in the Minister of Defence of Republic of Vietnam showed the presence of a Hồ Chí Minh trail which Saigon Government called “the Hồ Chí Minh crossing Truong Son trail” or “the Ho Chi Minh trail”.
According to the reports, “the Ho Chi Minh trail” was established in the early days of the resistance war against French, it was only finished at the end of 1949. The Ho Chi Minh trail was pivotal for “the politico – military carders and the units and was the pivotal for transporting weapon, supplies and other important materials” between the North and the South. The pivotal roads were positioned on the rear bases of Central of Vietnam and had the following routes:
Going along the Highway One, from Thanh Hoa to Ron ( Bắc Quảng Bình provice), going through the western wild and mountainous areas in the following provinces: Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, Thừa Thiên Huế and Quảng Nam – following the Highway One, from Quảng Ngãi, Bình Định and a part of Phú Yên – crossing the wild and mountainous areas of Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces.
Building the strategic (strategical road) and assistant Front-line (1959-1965)
In 1959, before the development of the revolution, the Ngo Dinh Diem regime promoted vigorously, quelling and performing “anti – Communists national policy” with guidelines “killing wrong is better than omitting”. Diem had promulgated 10/59 article of law which left the Communists out of the legal system, dragged the guillotine throughout the South, searched for, terrorized, captured, killed, confined tens thousands of patriotic people and revolutionary cadres and soldiers.
From the revolutionary movement reality, in January 1959, the fifteenth meeting of the Minister of the Politics of the Central Committee of the Party defined clearly the revolutionary path in the south: “is rising up to gain the government for the people”, while simultaneously proposing assistance for the southern revolution. Implementing that solution, in May 1959, the General army party committee had established a “special military task group” with the name is the 559th regiment and Vo Bam was appointed to be the head of the regiment. At the same time, in the south, the Nam Bo regional party committee also led the provinces in organizing army propaganda groups with tasks of drigging and communicating with the northern cadres groups.
In 1960, with the following guidelines: “keep absolutely in secret, safely avoid the enemy and keep far from the people as well”, they implement the following slogans: “stay without house, go without leaving any trace, cook without leaving any smoke, talk without making any sound”, after a long time using the trail, the northern and southern regiments met, the first transport of military goods came to the North safely, the rear corridor of the North with a large the southern Front-line was full opened. The communication road systems between the provinces, the areas and the stations, the bases were also established in a unique corridor system, from zone IV to zone V and VI and Nam Bo.
According to a report from the Second Chamber, General Staff of the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Vietnam, the corridor on land bore the name of “the united corridor”, that ”runs from the North, goes along the Lao – Viet border to the South, goes deep inside to Ca Mau”. On the corridor “every day’s walk has one rest station for the cadre and after 2, 3 day’s walk have supply station”. the line sea was established from 1960, along the coast, went deep into the South, landed on the coast of the Khanh Hoa, Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan provinces in the Central and the provinces of An Xuyen, Ba xuyen, Vinh Binh, Kien Hoa in western Nam Bo by fishing boat or seagoing vessels.
THE CHI MINH TRAIT AT LAND
Including 2 following routes:
- From Xuan Mai (Ha Dong) to Vinh in 2 ways to Tchepon, took 550 to 600 kilometers in length, spent 4 to 5 days by car.
+) Following the Highway Eight crossing the North – South relations station and Nape, going down nearly Tchepone.
+) Following Highway 12, crossing Mu Gia mountain pass and Na-phao, going down Tchepon.
- From Tchepone walks down the Southern, through Muong-nong – Tamprill (taking 10 days).
+) The routes go to zoneV and zoneVI(the Central – Tay Nguyen):
- Tamprill – Ayen – Bengiang: 15 days
- Tamprill – Mangkhel – Do Xa: 37 days
- Tamprill – Van Tat – Konhannung: 60 days
- Tamprill – Ban Don – Chud’lcya: 75 days
+) The routes go zone VII, zone VIII and zone IX (Nam Bo): Tamprill – Ban Don Base D (72 days), then from the Base D leads to the locals
From mid -1962, beside the road system, another new road was built, next to Viet – Lao border with the following routes:
- From Xuan Mai passes the Nho Quan district (Ninh Binh) – Ha Trung – Cam Thuy – Bai Thuong – Nhu Xuan (Thanh Hoa) to the highway One, lorry returns to the northern, through Diem Chau district – Vinh – Hatinh to Dong Hoi. Throughing Dong Hoi to My Duc Commune, goes to 70 station by land, then comes to the foot of the Mountain 1001(it takes 4 days).
- From here, walking through the foot of the mountain to the station 2 – Mountain 800 – station 4 through Ben Hai to Station 9 – cross Highway 9 (far from Lao Bao about 10 kilometers), then carry on crossing communication stations to Bac An in order to come Quang Nam, Quang Tin.
- Then, go along the border, go down Van Tat (Kon Tum) to come the provices: Kon Tum – Pleiku – Darlac and go straight to Nam Bo.
THE HO CHI MINH TRAIL AT SEA
The sea routes were established in the three following forms:
The junks, boats from Cua Thuan had necessary legal papers, to Hai Phan Thua Thien Hue waters, they operated and lived together with the route of the fishing boat of the South (about 5 kilometers from the coast).
- Mid – Unlawfullness.
They often moved from Novembers (lunar) to March (lunar) for the reason of favourable wind.
The secret form was the shipments or sea boats used to transport weapons and military goods. They often operated far from the coast about 100 kilometers, in the international waters.
THE STATIONS LANDED TO THE SOUTH
- From Thua Thien Hue Sea to Vung Tau
Vung Chon May
Phia Dong ben Goi Bay
Phia Nam hon Keo
Cu lao Re
- From Vung Tau Sea to Ha Tien
Rach Khau Bang
Song Bo De
Song Dong Cung
– Soi Rap
– Cua Tieu
– Cac cua song Cuu Long and Bassac
– Vung bo bien Ha Tien
EXPANDING STRATEGIC CORRIDOR AND INTENSIFYING ASSISTANCE, AGAINSTING CHECHED WAR
OF THE UNITED STATES – SAIGON GOVERMENT
Expanding strategic corridor and intensifying the assistance of the Southern battlefield
Before the threat of the fall of the United States and the Saigon government, in order to avoiding losing the war, from 1956, the US government gave the expeditionary corps and vassals to participate directly in the war in the South and carried out the strategy of the local war and spread the war to the North.
Dealing with the new plan of the US-Saigon government, the Central Committee of the Party encouraged the whole of the Party, all Vietnamese people and all troops in trying to defeat the US invasion, raising high the slogan: “all for the great line, all for victory”
Inplementing that resolution, the aid corridor for the Northern battlefield was expanded, especially the appearance of aid lines by mechanical cars. From 1967, the Ho Chi Minh trail system really became an assistant life-line for the Southern battlefield.
About the organization, 559th regiment – codenamed the Quang Trung Group, performed the strategic duties of becoming: ” A very good strategic corridor army”, ” a very good product army’’, “An army that is good at fighting” and “an international force that is good at helping allies’’. According to a report from the Saigon government, during the period of 1965-1975, the group had over 40 battalions containing Engineer corps, military weapons, anti-aircraft forces, infantry, army medical corps, information, army ordnance, conscripted labourers, including separately 10 battalions and 2 companies with thousands of army lorries that could transport from 2 to 4 tons.
Coordinating with the 559th regiment are Logistical Group R (central logistics in the South), the zones and the provinces created a full opened system, unifying from the great army logistics of the North to the southern battlefield.
The road systems were also upgraded, including 5 kinds: pathway, roads coverd with stones, roads coverd with tree – trunk, underground trenches, roads covered with grilles guarantee for traffic of mechanical vehicles both day and night. Simultaneously, in the this period, a lot of new routes were also set up, the Sihanouk road system was opened in late 1965, connected with Ho Chi Minh trail from three – ways crosscroads (Viet – Laos -Cambodia) border, along the Cambodian border, transporting military goods to the South.
THE HO CHI MINH TRAIL
- The axis road:
From Ha Tinh down Quang Binh, through station 1 (kilomitres at number 50 Quangbinh), cross Khe Rinh, crossing Tay Bac Ben Hai, crossing Laos to highway 9 (base 2), crossing Thame ferry – boat. From the Thame ferry – boat, it divided into 2 directions:
+) One direction to Khe Sanh, Rao Quan – Ca Lu
+) One to base 3 (belong to Lao, Tay Bac Ashau), down base 4 (Tay Ashau) to base 7 (at the Ashau valley).
From Base 7 (Ashau), the road was divided into the following directions:
+) Reaching Hue (road B73): starting from Base 7 to Kon Tum, passing Ta Bat to Dong A Tay, to the North, then passing the Bo river (Rao Nai river) to Base 8 assisting the Hue Front.
+) The way to Base 21 (123 kilometers in length): from Base 7, passing the Lao border, straight to Dong Dong Nam and Quang Nam, passing Station S9, 10, 11, 12, …to Base 21 at highway 14 (belong to Thuong Duc – Quang Nam), assisting Battlefield B3 and V zone.
- The supplement Road:
+) Khe Sanh direction:
Frome Base 2 to Highway 9, circle over the northern Khe Sanh to Rao Quan river, reach Ca Lu, to Kako (the border between Quang Tri – Thua Thien) reach A Luoi, to Ta Bat, reach Ashau valley(Base 7), and another direction from Kako comes Phong Dien to Co Tien cavern.
+) Nam Lao Bao direction:
From Base 2, cirle down the South, highway 9 to Quang Tri, pass Ta Riep, Ta Cong to Kako, down A Luoi –TaBat – Ashau.
- The routes to Lao
The road system to Lao was called branch C, connect with branch B (Viet Nam dierection), passing Base 2 – the Van Tan Base along with 2 routes: first one, from Mu Gia mountain pass down one road of Base 1 to Khe Rinh, passing San village to Tchepone, to Base 2, reach Highway 9.
In accordance with the roads system was communications system which was put along with the main road that was responsible for meeting, leading, receiving and directing the road for the cadres and soldiers. The communication station provide: offices, clubs, guesthouse, housing and food and trenches for shelter as well. Also, communication had logistic bases, breeding livestock and farming to feed themselves.
Along with the stations were the systems of the stores were named by kilometers, or the name of the Base and place names, there were lots of tents for storing goods. Each tend had a deep trench to land some stores which were digged to the mountain” from this mountain side to other mountain side” in order to hide military goods and lorries.
- Going to Combodia:
Going to the South by 12 routes containing 10 routes by land and 2 routes by sea, it was designed following Viet – Cambodia border to Kontum, Pleiku, Quang Duc, Phuoc Long, Binh Long, Tay Ninh, Kien Giang.
To go by land:
- The Sihanouk track: starting from Stung Treng passing Siempang to B. Tassing to Viet – Cambodia – Lao border to Kontum.
- Following the highway 19 (Cambodia), the military goods were transported to the west border of Cambodia and Pleiku. The pack – bike and conscripted labourers transported the goods from there to the South.
- Quang Duc: the goods were transported deep into The South by Group 86, R ordnance by means of mechanical lorries.
- Phuoc Long: Bu Gia Map road was established from February, 1966 to December, 1966, starting from Cambodia to Bu Gia Map run parallel with Highway 4, passing Dalk Hoyt river to Phuoc Binh.
- Binh Long: goods were transported from Cambodia border to Binh Long by the Group 18.
- Tay Ninh: from Minmot Cambodia, passing the border to Katum and Duong Minh Chau Base.
- Tay Ninh: following Highway 22, passing Xamat to Tay Ninh.
- Tay Ninh: crossing Go Dau Ha market, passing Bavet area.
- Tay Ninh: from Cambodia passing the border to Go Lo area, mid – hamet (Giua hamet). The transport divisions of R move military goods the Suoi Day storage and Tha La station.
- Kien Giang: From Kampot (Combodia), the military goods were transported to Kampong Trach, after crossing the border, goods will be transported to Tra Tien area (Kien Giang) by boat.
To travel by sea:
- From Cambodian waters, going to Phu Quoc Island by motorboat or small ship, then transporting goods to Kien Giang, An Xuyen.
- Following Cuu Long, going to near the border by ship, transporting to small boats, then going to Tan Chau area (Chau Doc), Hong Ngu and transporting to Tien Giang province.
The preventive war of the United State – Saigon Government
In the first days after the US – Saigon regime detected the presence of the Ho Chi Minh road system, they spent lots of strength and wealth in order to disrupt the assistance lifeline road for the southern Front-line.
Under the Ngo Dinh Diem regime, the Saigon government heavily promoted mopping – up campaigns, raiding the whole of the South, aimed at the old bases. With the wild and mountainous areas, Diem developed intelligence forces, ranger forces under the control of a topography company to measure and draw maps, but in fact, they reached deep to the wild and mountainous areas find traces, acting as informers for the air force blasting the networks of aid roads of revolution. Simultaneously, Diem issued a series of the policies for blockading the wildness and severely checking the movement of people.
After 1965, The US-Saigon Rulers promoted increasingly the preventive activities, they changed the policies to a preventive war with the presence of the most modern and violent equipment, such as electronic mechanical systems that led the air force
to bomb, which was called the McNamara Electronic French, the strongholds B52. The kinds of defoliants and the programmers and plans created rain, the chemicals created mud. They were sprayed down the Truong Son chain and destroyed the trail.
In Accordance with that were the campaigns that raided by air force, such as Sấm Rền campaign which dropped bombs on the North and Trung Bo from March 20th 1965. The actives of B52 only, had carried out 7,252 missions within 3 years (1967-1969).
After 1970, in order to prevent assistant line of the revolution, The US – Saigon government carried out a comprehensive and systematic preventive war. Infantry and armour with a series of operations landed to Viet – Kampuchea border. Binh Tay I was deployed on May 5, 1970 aiming at Tay Ninh border. Toan Thang 42 was deployed on April 29th 1970 aiming at Binh Long, Phuoc Long; Cuu Long was deployed on May 8, 1970 aiming at Moc Hoa border,… the largest scale was the Nam Son operation 719 in 1971.
Together with the operations, The US – Saigon government increased the actives of the air force. In 1972, The United States had bought many kinds of modern weapons and technologies, such as the F.111 aircraft. On an average day, there were 300-500 attacks with tens of B52 missions that left thousands of tons of bombs down Vietnam.
During the operation period (1959-1975), the Ho Chi Minh trail on land had taken 8 million tons of bombs. On an average, every miter of the Truong Son road was hit by 5 bombs. The US – Saigon regime hoped with this military strength they could destroy the support in the North and cut the strategic aid of revolution.
In truth, history had had a Legend about the road bearing the name of Uncle Ho – the Ho Chi Minh trail. In order to survive lethal weapons and severe nature, revolutionary soldiers built a road system including:
– Road for vehicle is 16,700 kilometers long and cuts through 3 countries Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
This road system had 6 lanes running north to south for 6,800 kilometers and had 21 lanes running east to west for 5,000 kilometers and 5,000 kilometers of the bypass roads including 800 kilometers of underground tunnels, 1,500 kilometers of gravel roads, over 200 kilometers of paved road.
– 3000 kilometers of line communication (trail)
– 1,445 kilometers of line oil pipeline.
– 600 kilometers of river
It transported more than one million tons of weapons and saw millions of outward journeys for cadres and soldiers to the South safely, assisted the battlefield and contributed to the victory the resistance against the United States.