Laura Ibáñez Pérez
Before World War Two,
Vietnam had been part of the French Empire. During the war, the country had been overrun by the Japanese. When the Japanese retreated, after the end of the war, the Allies gave back south Vietnam to the French while the north
In October 1946, the French announced their intention of reclaiming the north. The war started in November 1946, when the French bombarded the port of Haiphong and killed 6,000 people. The French had got themselves into a difficult military position. Despite huge American help, the French could not cope with the Viet Minh's guerilla tactics. May 1954, the regiment surrendered which came as a terrible blow to the French people. The French pulled out of Vietnam in the same month.
In July 1954, it was decided to divide the country in two at the 17th parallel. Bao Dai was to lead the south and Ho Chi Minh the north. In March 1965, the first American ground troops landed in South Vietnam and by December 1965, there were 150,000 stationed in the Ho Chi Minh country. The bombing of North Vietnam had already started in February 1965.
By May 1968, the North Vietnamese were willing to start talks that would lead to a peace settlement. Talks started in Paris and very slow progress was made over 5 years.
In 1969, the American president, Richard Nixon, agreed to reduce the number of American troops in South Vietnam. In December 1970, there were 350,000 American troops in South Vietnam. By September 1972, there were just 40,000.
Once the bulk of the American troops had pulled out, the North Vietnamese changed their tactics by launching a full scale attack against the South which all but wilted under the onslaught.
America's involvement in Vietnam ended in 1973. By April 1975, Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam had fallen. It was re-named Ho Chi Minh City and a united Vietnam came into being.