American Bombing in North Vietnam

The Second Investigation Team of the International War Crimes Tribunal was in North Vietnam from 24 January 1967 until 17 February 1967. We were welcomed on the evening of 24 January by representatives of the North Vietnamese government and, on the morning of 25 January, we discussed our programme with Mr Pham Van Bach of the DRV War Crimes Commission.
     On 27 January we met religious leaders and heard details from them of the attacks on churches and pagodas by the US planes. In the afternoon we inspected areas of Hanoi that had been bombed in attacks which had occurred on 2, 13 and 14 December 1966.
     In the Van Dien district, high explosive bombs, rockets and pressure bombs had been dropped. We saw huge craters and destroyed and damaged houses. The Senior High School (named in honour of Vietnam-Polish friendship) had been destroyed. We met two pupils and one teacher (all females) who had been wounded during the attacks. The girls were Miss Hong Thi Ly and Miss Nguyen Thi Giang. The teacher was Miss Nguyen Thi An.
     In the Tu Ky quarter of Van Dien, two children were killed in the raid on 2 December 1966. The Tu Ky pagoda had also been destroyed. Most of the 600 pupils had been evacuated and only a class of forty-four pupils was in the school when the alert sounded. But for this fact and the nearby deep shelters, the casualties would have been much greater.
     We visited the Trade Union Cadres Training School in the {128} Dong Da quarter of Hanoi which had been bombed on 14 December 1966. One student was killed and six were wounded. A large part of the three-storey building was wrecked, as was the students' hostel. Many houses near by - in Tay Son Street - had been ruined and four people were killed and five wounded. Rockets and high explosive bombs were used.
     On the evening of 27 January, Dr Tolentino and I left Hanoi for the north.... We travelled at night by jeeps to the city of Viet Tri and were welcomed by provincial officials in a jungle headquarters outside the city.
     Viet Tri is an industrial town with a population of 40,000. US planes had made reconnaissance flights over the city on 12, 13 and 14 January 1967 and had then attacked on 15 January at 3.5 P.M. with twelve F-105 planes which dropped twenty-eight explosive bombs and four container bomb units (CBUS) (1,200 steel pellet bombs). The attacks were concentrated on Thuan Luong commune and especially Phuc Theun village and Dong Luc cooperative. Two people were killed (one man, one woman). Eleven people were wounded (four male and seven female) including five children. Those killed were the victims of steel pellet bombs. Twenty-two houses had been destroyed or damaged.
     On 18 January, at 7 A.M., eighteen F-105s had attacked with high explosive bombs, pressure bombs, time bombs and CBUs. They struck the Roman Catholic commune of Tien Cat and also the commune of Minh Dong, including the hamlets of Gia Vuong and Minh Tan. Twenty people were killed (seven male and thirteen female), including eight children. Sixty-one were wounded (twenty-eight male and twenty-three female) including fifteen children. One hundred and twenty-nine houses were demolished and eight were burned down. The school, the hospital and the kindergarten were bombed. Dikes and sluices had also been attacked.
     In the hamlet of Doan Det, the church had been demolished and five people had been killed. Mr Nguyen Van Tho, a peasant, had lost his thirty-nine-year-old wife and his two sons, aged fifteen and two years. They were killed by a direct hit on their shelter. Mr La Quing Toai and his wife lost two children, six years and six months old, and both he and his wife coughed blood due to the effects of the pressure bombs. {129}
     The state-owned bakery shop in Dong Tien had been bombed. One woman was killed (Miss Do Thi San, aged fifty-three years) and four other women were wounded. Miss La Thi Mo, twenty-one years, was hit between the eyes by steel pellets. Mrs Dao Thi Tri, sixty-three years of age, was also wounded by steel pellets. There was no time to detail all the injuries of all the victims.
     We then left our headquarters to visit the bombed areas. The Roman Catholic church at Doan Ket was badly damaged, as was the school at Minh Dong. Fortunately, children were not at school when the raid took place. There were huge craters and there was an unexploded bomb near what had been the state-owned bakery. We spoke to a Mr Tay whose wife and two children had been killed. We visited the hospital which had been transferred from the city centre, where it had been attacked twice previously. Many steel pellet bombs had been dropped on it and the rice fields beyond were covered with small craters left by the guava bombs. We saw many houses that had been destroyed by explosive bombs and others on or near which steel pellet anti-personnel bombs had been dropped. It was explained to us that the normal pattern of attack was to drop explosive bombs first and then to drop steel pellet bombs while people were trying to help the victims of the first attack.
     In the afternoon we returned to our headquarters and interviewed the following victims: (1) Mr Nguyen Van Tho, whose wife and two children were killed on 18 January. He described his tragic experience in detail and then answered our questions. His house and property were destroyed. He had another five children, all of whom were now suffering from the effects of pressure bombs. The two dead children included his young son, aged two years. (2) Mr Nguyen Van Tho of Doan Ket hamlet, aged fifty years. His wife and son, aged seven years, had been killed. He had four children left. His house and property were destroyed. In answer to our questions he said, as had the previous witness, that there was no military target within the vicinity. (3) Mrs Do Thi Duyen, sixty-six years of age, worked in the Dong Thien bakery. She described how Mrs San, aged fifty years, had been killed by a pressure bomb and others were seriously wounded. Her left arm was broken and her left knee was injured. She was a widow and {130} had no children. (4) Mr La Qang Toai, forty-three years of age, from Minh Tan hamlet, was vice-chairman of the agriculture cooperative. He described how his wife and two children (one of them five months old) had died. They were crushed as the sides of their shelter squeezed together due to the blast of a pressure bomb.
     While we were interviewing Mr La Qang Toai, the alert went about 3.40 P.M. and we took shelter. Shortly afterwards, we felt the impact of a missile that struck the hamlet of Hoa Phong only 500 metres away. After these interviews, we visited Viet Tri city hospital and saw victims who were still receiving treatment. Dr Tolentino examined these victims, who included: (1) La Quang Chung, three-year-old son of Mr Le Ngoc Dang. He was wounded in the right leg and shoulder by steel pellets and he bled heavily.
     (2) A five-year-old boy, also named Le Quang Chung. He was wounded by steel pellets in the head and right leg. (3) Mrs Nguyen Thi Luong, aged forty-five years, a peasant's wife from Tan Hong commune in the province of Ha Tay. She had travelled to Viet Tri for shopping on 18 January and during the raid she received wounds in the stomach and had been stunned by the bombing. Her legs were paralysed and her bowels were damaged. A bomb fragment was lodged in the spine. She also had an injury to her left arm. (4) Mr Nguyen Van Binh, aged fifty-one years, a peasant from Gia Vuong hamlet in Minh Dong commune. He had head injuries from a bomb fragment. One of his two children had also been wounded.
     After leaving the hospital we went to Hoa Phong hamlet which had been attacked while we were taking refuge earlier that afternoon. It had been struck by a `Bull Pup' incendiary missile. Three houses were destroyed. One old woman and two children had been wounded and some animals had been killed.
     Next morning, Sunday, 29 January, we received a report on the attacks on Phu Tho province. The province has a population of 640,000 and the city of Phu Tho has a population of 14,000 reduced by evacuation to 6,700. Repeated attacks on the city had been made since October 1965. Pilotless planes had been used for US reconnaissance flights. On 22 November, starting at 2.15 A.M., thirty-one sorties were flown over the city. Ninety-five explosive bombs, some weighing 1,000 lbs., were dropped. These made {131} craters as big as thirteen metres deep and thirty-seven metres in diameter. Rockets, missiles and CBUS were also used. Thirty-three people were killed (fourteen male and nineteen female) including one old person and six children. 282 houses were burned down or demolished. A school, a Buddhist temple, a hospital and a medical school had all been bombed. The worst damage was done in the area of Coa Bang and Hoa Binh Streets.
     On 4 March 1966, twelve planes had attacked dropping thirty-six bombs weighing up to 750 lbs. Thirty-eight people were killed (eighteen male and twenty female) including six old people and sixteen children, and twenty-four people were wounded (nine male and fifteen female). Ninety-one houses were burned down or damaged; forty-six were completely destroyed. One hundred and thirty metres of dikes were damaged; the Roman Catholic church was severely damaged. Five thousand three hundred kilos of paddy were burned; eleven buffaloes and fifteen pigs were killed. Over 1,000 banana trees were destroyed.
     On 11 October 1966, twelve planes had again attacked. The bombs dropped included six CBUs - 1,800 guava bombs each containing 300 steel pellets. These fell chiefly on Phu Hong cooperative and on the second degree school. Sixteen people were killed (seven male and nine female), including seven old people and four children. Thirty-eight houses were burned down. Animals and rice supplies were destroyed. One thousand five hundred steel pellet bombs fell on the rice fields which were ready for harvesting. One pupil at the school was killed.
     On 27 July 1965, two F-105s dropped ten napalm bombs on Co Tiet commune. A sixty-two-year-old peasant, Mr Ngo Van Huong, had been wounded. Twelve houses were burned down and 2,400 kilos of paddy destroyed. Twenty-nine planes had been shot down in this province, including the 400th to be brought down over North Vietnam. Other planes had been damaged and two pilots had been captured alive.
     A local exhibition of war crimes evidence included a piece of cloth carried by US pilots in which an appeal for help was printed in thirteen languages. The English version ran:
I am a citizen of the USA. I do not speak your language. Misfortune forces me to seek your assistance in obtaining food, shelter {132} and protection. Please take me to someone who will provide for my safety and see I am returned to my people. My Government will reward you ...

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