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351st Artillery Division
Active 1951-present
Country  Vietnam
Branch People's Army of Vietnam
Type Artillery/Combat Engineer
Size Division

First Indochina War

Vietnam War

351st Artillery-Engineer Division or 351st Heavy Division was the first artillery and engineering division and one of the six original "Steel and Iron Divisions" of the Viet Minh. Formed in 27 May 1951 with assistance from the People's Republic of China,[1] it initially consisted of three regiments: 675th Artillery Regiment, 45th Artillery Regiment and 151st Military Engineer Regiment.

First Indochina War[edit | edit source]

Units from the 351st were attached to Viet Minh infantry divisions during the 1951/2 and 1952/3 campaigns in the T'ai country. In 1953 the People's Liberation Army supplied the 351st with up to 48 US 105mm howitzers captured from the defeated Nationalists and in the Korean War.[2]:151

At the end of November 1953, Engineer Regiment 151 was ordered to improve Route Provincale 41 between Sơn La and Tuần Giáo to support the buildup of Viet Minh forces around Điện Biên Phủ.[3]

The division fought during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, hauling 200 dismantled artillery pieces up the hills and established positions overlooking the French fortress. Throughout the battle, it maintained a deadly rain of fire from its 75mm and 105mm howitzers while anti-aircraft artillery severely restricted French resupply and air drop missions.[4] The 105mm howitzers were divided into two sections, one positioned north-east of Strongpoint Beatrice and the other in the north of the valley, each gun had 217 men allocated to it of whom 118 were porters.[5]

In September 7, 1954, the division was bolstered with newly established 63rd Artillery Regiment and 67th Artillery Regiment. The 675th Regiment, however, was detached from the 351st and upgraded to 675th Artillery Division, consisted of three artillery regiments: 84th, 52nd and 56th.[6]

Vietnam War[edit | edit source]

In 1968, the division took part in the Battle of Khe Sanh. Of the 12,000 men, the division lost about 1000 due to B-52 bombings and napalm bombs [7]

Post Vietnam War[edit | edit source]

The division was later reorganized into PAVN Artillery Command, directing PAVN's Artillery Academy and holding nominal control over other artillery units [8]

Notable Members[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Xiaobing Li, 'Voices from the Vietnam War: Stories from American, Asian, and Russian Veterans',University Press of Kentucky, 2010.
  2. Windrow, Martin (2004). The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 0-297-84671-X. 
  3. Windrow, p. 260.
  4. Conboy, Bowra, and McCouaig, 'The NVA and Vietcong', Osprey Publishing, 1991, p.6
  5. Windrow, p. 292
  6. Military History Institute of Vietnam, 'Bộ Quốc phòng 1945-2000', Quân đội Nhân dân publisher, 2003, pp. 169-170
  7. William L. Adams, 'Interviews with a Top North Vietnam Army General and Two Former Soldiers', June 12, 2006.
  8. Conboy, Bowra, and McCouaig, 'The NVA and Vietcong', Osprey Publishing, 1991, p.47

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