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1956 British take on the Viet Minh Mines

By Dan Shea

At the “War and Peace” show, which is held at the Paddock Wood in Kent England, every July, I truly enjoy meeting with the Brits and others who are interested in military history. It is the largest military vehicle show in the world. The reenactors are from everywhere, and we have started to see the Vietnam living history people there. I must admit to being a little snapped off when I came around a corner of this huge field full of military vehicles, and saw two figures in black pajamas and Ho Chi Minh sandles pushing a bike with a Dashika on it. Right behind them was a Huey with five guys on it, all looking like they came right out of the paddies. I walked up, and started chuckling as I looked the ‘Sixty over and it had a C-rat can on it for the ammo feed. Yup, they did their homework. Then, I hear something like “Crikey, Nigel, the Bloody Yanks wouldn’t believe your uniform that way”, and I started really laughing. At first they thought I was offended by the Brits depicting Vietnam War American GI s, but I explained it was only the somewhat bizarre combination of the accents combined with how well they had done their displays. I half expected to hear “You better unass my AO, cuz we got a hot LZ to get ammo ‘n rats to” or somesuch. The War and Peace show this year is on July 17-21, 2002. You can get more info at their website:

Anyway, the reason I bring up the show is that in the huge outdoor market there, Britain’s greatest military booksellers are hidden in their tents, rooting through box after box of interesting and arcane books. On this particular trip, I found a book “Viet Minh Weapons”, dated 1956. It was a confidential report filed with the British government. The pictures weren’t that good, but the intelligence was incredible. The gun handlers borrowed this book from me as a guide to some of the “Mobile Force 100” ambush scenes flashing back to 1954, in “We Were Soldiers”.

One thing that the Viet Minh, and the later NVA and Viet Cong were noted for was the ingenuity of their booby traps. Everything from a Coke can to a round of ammo to commo wire could turn into something deadly.

The best diagrams in the book depicted the standard issue/ improvised mines of the Viet Minh era. SAR is pleased to present these to the readers with the original British descriptions. - Dan


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