3 October. After a long voyage, the main body of SEAC forces docks at Saigon’s harbour. Included are the first contingents of the French Expeditionary Corps, about 1,000 men in total. Two days later, General Philippe Leclerc, the ‘liberator of Paris’, arrives at Tan Son Nhut airbase to command all French forces in the region. He is vested with full military and civilian powers to act on behalf of incoming French high commissioner, Admiral Thierry d’Argenlieu. Leclerc’s stance is that France can only negotiate with the Viet Minh from a position of strength.
10 October. Prompted by De Gaulle, King Sisavangvong dismisses Prince Phetsarath as prime minister of Luang Prabang and strips him of the viceroy title. The move is two days after Lao Issara leaders informed the king of their intention to establish a constitutional monarchy and a day after an informal parliament was created by the Lao-penLao in Vientiane. Nationalists respond to the sacking by forming a revolutionary government, which in turn appoints a provisional national assembly and invites the king to dissolve his royal government. On the 12th, it proclaims the country’s independence under its authority. A provisional constitution, national flag and anthem are also approved. Meanwhile, young Lao loyal to Phetsarath and his Lao Issara allies begin to take over the old colonial administration. On the 15th, Phetsarath formally accepts his vice-regal demotion; the prince is confident of his ability to govern without a royal mandate.
10 October. After a number of Viet Minh attacks are launched on French and British positions in Saigon the previous night, General Gracey orders advances into Saigon’s northern suburbs, further stretching his overextended forces. Later that day, he flies to attend an inter-allied conference in Singapore together with General Leclerc. Here he faces criticism for his actions but is backed by Leclerc. The increasingly concerned SEAC commander, Lord Mountbatten, who also faces major security problems in Indonesia and political headaches in Burma, Thailand and Malaya, is frustrated by the uncompromising French attitude and wants to avoid having his forces drawn into a full-scale conflict. He grants Gracey additional reinforcements but demands that the general works to promote a French–Viet Minh dialogue.
31 October. On the same day that more French reinforcements disembark in Saigon, Admiral Thierry d’Argenlieu arrives in the city and assumes formal leadership of the French administration. En route to Indochina, he has stopped over at SEAC headquarters in Kandy, lobbying for inclusion of Cambodia’s lost province of Battambang within General Gracey’s southern Indochina command area. He is unsuccessful; Battambang will remain part of the separate British remit in Thailand.
11 November. Ho Chi Minh has been under growing pressure from Chinese generals to accept members of the Nationalist Party and Revolutionary League into his government, and an accord in late October between the Viet Minh and two northern nationalist parties has not been enough; nationalist criticism remains intense. In a move designed to allay American, Chinese and also domestic fears of a communist takeover in Vietnam, Ho calls together a meeting of the ICP and instructs its leaders to announce voluntary dissolution of the party. Vietnam’s opportunity to gain complete independence should not be jeopardized by differences of class or political party, the closing resolution declares. In reality, the ICP returns to operate in the shadows, though now protected rather than hounded by the police. The dissolution of the party nonetheless raises doubts among French, Chinese and especially Soviet communists as to the ideological commitment of the ICP in general and the ideological mettle of Ho Chi Minh in particular.
On 13 November 1945, 100 tumultuous days had passed since the dropping of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima. One thousand days later, on 9 August 1948, the forces that had been set in train by Japan’s defeat and surrender continued to shape the face of Asia.
Whereas the future for the Chinese communists appeared promising in August 1948, the Vietnamese communists were on the defensive. Three years earlier, conditions had seemed to favour them. The nationalist-communist leader Ho Chi Minh used the interregnum following Japan’s surrender to declare independence and to begin establishing a Viet Minh government, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), … (to continue reading Cribb and Li’s aftermath, click the link below)
4 October. In a memorandum to Chinese occupation authorities, Prince Phetsarath rejects the French protectorate. His aim is to broaden support from neighbouring states. Contacts are also made with Thailand through the Seri Thai, Cambodia through the Khmer Issarak, and Vietnam through the Viet Minh.
6 October. Hosted in his office by General Gracey, who quickly excuses himself, a meeting is held in Saigon between French and Vietnamese delegations. After two hours the only practical outcome is a verbal undertaking to release hostages, exchange prisoners and look for the body of murdered OSS Lt-Col. Peter Dewey.
17 October. Ho Chi Minh sends a telegram to President Truman arguing for DRV participation in the UN Advisory Commission for the Far East. He follows up next day with a letter (also addressed to Chiang Kai-shek) arguing the Vietnamese position following the Japanese surrender. The first articulation of the U.S. policy on Indochina for many months is aired on the 20th. Speaking in New York, John Carter Vincent, head of the State Department’s Office of Far Eastern Affairs, declares that the U.S. government does not question French sovereignty. But, he adds, the U.S. will not assist or participate in ‘forceful measures for the reimposition of control.’ With France still facing severe shortag es of transport and equipment, however, the fact is that U.S. ships are transporting French troops, equipment and supplies to Saigon.