Nguyen Thi Dinh:
Why did we wait until 1960 before staging the general uprising? This
was because after nine years of the Resistance War, the population was already quite
tired of war. Secondly, it was because the North had just been liberated
and the desire to rebuild the north in peace was a common national
desire. The North had to live in peace in order to become stronger.
Therefore, although there were difficulties and death
in the South, the effort at the time was to cling on to the Geneva Agreement as a form of
struggle. Each day there was peace in the South, each day the North
would become stronger. Therefore, we abided strictly by the Geneva Agreement and struggled for
peace. Our most earnest desire was peace.
But when we realized that we could not remained
peaceful any longer, our Party and our government decided to use armed
struggle in order to rally the people to fight against the attempt to
turn the South into an American colony and to use it as a base for
attacking the North. Therefore, in October
1959 we had Resolution No. 10 which stated that armed struggle
was now allowed by the Party.
We could no longer use
peaceful means. The people were asking for armed struggles, and armed
struggles we must have. When we studied this Resolution, it was just
like hungry people being fed with a really delicious feast. It was just
like a rainstorm during a drought. We cadres were very happy and the
people were also very happy, even though we were really empty handed at
Nguyen Thi Dinh:
When we received the
Resolution, we were all overjoyed. The people were very happy because
they had used peaceful means to struggle for peace, but the enemy did
not want to have peace. Therefore, it was now time to employ armed
struggle in order to bring back to the people their rights. Since the
people wanted armed struggles, we told them that to do so we had to
capture the enemy's guns and use these guns against the enemy. So we
made bogus replicas of guns, produced machetes and all kinds of
explosive charges in order to fight the enemy. We also placed our
infrastructures within the enemy's ranks.
This meant that we had our own people in their armed
forces, for example, and used these people to help us take over army
posts and forts or to rally the soldiers back to the revolution. On
January 17, 1960, there was a general
uprising. The entire population rose up and, depending on our strength
and weakness in a certain locality, took their gun models, their
machetes and their drums and marched to the various military posts and
forts ordering the soldiers to come back to the revolution or be
The first battle took place in Dinh Thuy
. We attacked a company of their so called
popular Self Defense Forces and took over a notorious police garrison.
In only three hours, and without any gun in our hands, we managed to
capture thirty guns. This was our first really precious capital. We gave
each village in the province a gun, a real gun this time. We dressed our
women as men and boys, making them think that we had a lot of fighters.
This was because at that time they were still
unafraid of women. And then we had several thousand persons surround a
post of only about thirty or so soldiers each. These people who
surrounded the post would then beat on their drums and their gongs, set
off bamboo firecrackers to simulate gunfire, and then sent members of
their families into the fort to ask them to come back to the revolution.
At first, the soldiers in the post thought that these
were soldiers coming back from the North. And so we taught our people
the northern accent to make the Saigon soldiers really believe that these were
revolutionary troops coming back from the North. Then we sent the
members of the families of Saigon soldiers to inform them that a lot of revolutionary
troops had returned from the North, armed with all types of guns.
Therefore, the Saigon troops withdrew into their posts. We then
sent their parents and wives to see them, conveying our message that if
they did not come out to surrender they would certainly meet with death
when their posts got stormed. So in only two nights, we were able to
take over five military posts. In places where the posts were not taken
yet, we put up haystacks at a distance (and in the direction of other
posts) and set them on fire, saying that these were other posts which
had been stormed and burnt down and that the soldiers in the remaining
posts had better surrender.
So they thought that was really the case and trooped
out of their posts to surrender. After they came out and surrendered,
they realized that all these so called revolutionary troops from the
North were females. So these Saigon soldiers said that the women had really fooled them
and that if they had known they would have never surrendered. They also
said that they would not have been afraid of actual artillery shelling
from our side, but they were really intimidated by the beating of the
gongs and the drums. This was because the beating of the gongs and the
drums was done in a really systematic way.
The big drums were the command drums. When a big drum
was sounded, all the small wooden gongs followed suit. This was because
during the reign of Ngo Dinh
Diem, every family was forced to have a wooden gong with
which to sound the alert at any Communist intrusion into the village.
And so we used these gongs against them when we placed their posts under
siege. It was at this moment that our "Long-haired Army" surrounded the
posts and sent the wives, children and parents of the soldiers in the
posts to meet with them and call them out.
So in only ten days of general uprising in this
province, we liberated about a dozen villages and captured several
hundred guns. We then organized a real army composed squads, platoons,
and companies a centralized army. We then built combat villages
surrounded with spiked moats. After the initial shocks, the enemy
realized that there was no such thing as northern troops returning to
the South. And so they sent 13,000 soldiers into the area to make a
search and destroy operation, hoping to wipe out completely this budding
But instead of wiping us out, we wiped them out and
captured many more guns. This was thanks in part to the fact that when
the Saigon troops
stayed in the homes of the villagers, these villagers – especially the
children – stole their guns and ammunition and sneaked these things to
us. They had intended to make a week long operation against us. But they
were forced to withdraw after three days. This was because we went on
the attack around nightfall, around six p.m. or so.
If we engaged them during the day, they would have
been able to wipe us out because they had all the facilities available
to them. But at nightfall, it was hard for them to see us. Moreover,
they were quartering their troops so closely together that when the
attack started their own crossfire helped kill many of them. After this
search and destroy operation, we sent 5,000 women to the Mo Cay market
place (which I mentioned in my autobiography) and staged a demonstration
there, demanding an end to search and destroy operations and
compensations for the dead and the wounded.
The women brought their children, their pigs, their
cows and their buffaloes to this district town, making it look like a
real evacuation. And they said that they would continue to remain in
that place until the Saigon troops were withdrawn. This was a successful
demonstration. The Saigon troops were forced to withdraw. After this event,
whenever the Saigon
authorities saw a large group of women heading for a village
headquarters, a district town or a military post, they would say: "Here
comes the Long-haired Army."
They would then send their troops out to stop the
women from going to these places to stage demonstrations. So this was
the origin of the Long haired Army. And it was Uncle Ho who formally gave us this
name. From a demonstration involving 5,000 women, we then organized
struggle rallies involving 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000 women a day. But
our Long-haired Army did not just hold political struggle rallies alone.
They also carried out proselytizing activities among
enemy troops and engaged in armed combat. As far as armed combat was
concerned, the women employed guerrilla tactics, using both guns and
mines. Many times, the armed attacks by the women were carried out from
within the bellies of the enemies themselves, and in broad daylight. I
can say that many of our heroines in this southern part of the country
were people who fought from within the belly of the enemy.
An example is Ta Thi
Kieu. I have her picture here. She took
over an enemy's military post empty handedly. She went into the post
with members of the soldiers' families and organized a drinking party in
there. When they got drunk, she snatched one of their guns, jumped up on
top of a bunker and signaled the guerrillas hiding on the outside to
come in help her take over the post. In the province of Ben Tre we have six heroines, one
of them is Ta Thi Kieu.
In any case, we came to the conclusion that the
Long-haired Army never failed in its activities. This was because the
enemy, the Americans, were politically weak. And so when we attacked him
by political means, he was certainly going to be defeated. The more they
terrorized the population, the quicker they would lose. Therefore, our
government and Party always held high esteem for the Long-haired Army.
This was because we used a three pronged attack on
the enemy: armed struggle, political struggle and proselytizing
campaigns among the enemy troops. Sometimes members of the Long-haired
Army even carried out proselytizing activities among the American
troops, causing them to become anti war, to refuse to go out on search
and destroy operations and to desert their units. As a result, I think
the Americans were quite leery of Vietnamese women. But although they
were quite leery, they liked Vietnamese women at the same time, enabling
the women to attack them. For example, we placed our own girls in the
various hotels and offices to service them.
When it became necessary for
us to attack the Americans, these women would be the ones to place the
bombs and the mines. We even had people in the High Military Command of
the Americans. In fact, we had people in every enemy office and were
able to have a firm grasp of the enemy's situation as a result. And
whenever we decided to attack, our targets were always very significant
targets. We never hit the ordinary American targets.