Duong Van Khang:
By the end of 1944, I heard about Uncle Ho who fought for the right of the peasants and the workers. So as a peasant who had to suffer a lot, I realized that the only correct thing for me to do was to follow the same path. We were ready to support any effort in defending the rights of the majority of the population. We knew then that we had to follow Uncle Ho and the Party in order to struggle successfully.
We had been told about the Viet Minh. By the beginning of 1945 I was introduced into the Viet Minh in order to fight, to take back governmental power and to regain the fundamental rights for the peasants and the workers. So I was ready to stand up to defend the people. I joined the self defense force to defend the people and to do whatever I could to help bring about enough food and enough clothes for the people. So I joined the self defense force in the beginning of 1945.
Mr. Do Nham became the commander of the all village self defense force. And I was a squad leader. In 1946 the self defense force was turned into a guerrilla force. And I was made the commander of a platoon of the guerrilla force by recommendation of the village and appointment from the central government. We were trained by various army units, which came to the village for that purpose.
In 1946, the French attacked us. But by that time we had already organized a whole company of guerrilla soldiers. When the French reached Le Phung, we sent a platoon of guerrillas to Phung and engaged the French there. We fought with them at the bridge for three days. All we had in terms of weapon were machetes, several hand grenades and three muskets.
But the French chased us away with their gunfire. We ran back to the village and the villagers supported us. They gave us bamboo and food. We organized a company of guerrilla soldiers, installed bamboo stakes around the village and turned it into a combat village, and waited for the enemy to come to us. After we finished building our village into a combat village, the French came and attacked us in 1948.
They attacked us forty-nine times in 1948. We fought them whenever and wherever they arrived. In one of the biggest battles we managed to kill about a platoon of their Negro soldiers. These Negro soldiers had scars on their faces. During those 49 battles, they burnt our village three or four times. This neighborhood here was completely burnt down. All the houses you see here have been newly built. The French burnt down our village four times, and the village inhabitants had to evacuate. Only the guerrillas remained behind to fight the French.
Early in 1949
the French succeeded in occupying our village and built a post not far from hare where they stationed a company of black soldiers. After the French occupied our village, we split our company into three sections. One platoon went and stayed with the population and operated clandestinely. The other two companies evacuated to Vinh Phu
Now this was what happened under the French. The most painful thing that happened was that the French lobbed artillery shells into this village. One shell hit us right smack in the middle of the house and killed 5 members of my own family. I was not home at the time. While the French occupied this village, I operated clandestinely. I came back here quite often and stayed in a tunnel.
Duong Van Khang:
Our village only had two rifles. In 1948 the French came and attacked us forty-nine times, but we were never occupied then. We built a very high watchtower. When the French arrived, our watchman up there would fire three times and our village inhabitants would then evacuate, leaving only us guerrilla fighters behind to fight with the French.
We had built moats and planted bamboo stakes around the village. We also dug a trench line around the village, and would run along this trench to engage the French whenever and wherever they happened to arrive. We lobbed grenades at then from our trench. On the 27th of June 1948 the French attacked us from three directions, having come up from Phung as I told you, and surrounded our village. We tricked the French and booby-trapped them.
We opened the gates and let them come in, and fought with them as they came in. But we had already dug holes in the ground and camouflaged these holes very carefully. In the holes we placed mines and stakes. In that battle about a platoon of French and Vietnamese soldiers, twenty-five to be exact, were killed on the western side of this village. That was the biggest battle of that year. Another thing was our effort in blowing up the Phung Bridge. We coordinated our attack with army company 254 and with only two mines we managed to destroy the bridge. There were 6 of us guerrilla fighters and three army men when we destroyed the Phung Bridge.