Exhibition revives memory of victory over US Christmas Bombings

Created 18 December 2022
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Strong emotions and pride are sure to envelop any visitor to an exhibition showcasing the Vietnamese people and their armed forces' victory in the intensive Christmas bombing campaign conducted by the US Air Force against North Việt Nam 50 years ago.

Strong emotions and pride are sure to envelop any visitor to an exhibition showcasing the Vietnamese people and their armed forces' victory in the intensive Christmas bombing campaign conducted by the US Air Force against North Việt Nam 50 years ago.

The ongoing exhibition Hà Nội: Ký Ức 12 Ngày Đêm - Điện Biên Phủ Trên Không (Hà Nội: Memories of 12 Days and Nights – Điện Biên Phủ in the Air), displays 84 documents, photos and artefacts about the 12-day battle (December 18 to 29, 1972), taken from the Hà Nội Centre for Historical Archives, the National Archives Centre III, the Hà Nội Museum, and the Vietnam News Agency.

WEAPONS SYSTEM: Missile protecting the Hà Nội's sky on display at the exhibition. VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Hiếu

Over 12 days and nights, the North, particularly Hà Nội and Hải Phòng, sustained the destruction of over 80,000 tonnes of bombs in the aerial bombing campaign Operation Linebacker II conducted by the US Air Force.

Hà Nội's air-defence force and air force shot down 23 B-52 strategic bombers and captured 43 pilots, inflicting an unprecedented defeat on the US Air Force in one of the defining battles against the American war of destruction against North Việt Nam.

The largest-scale strategic campaign by B-52s on Hà Nội and some northern provinces was totally defeated. The resounding victory of Việt Nam was praised as "Điện Biên Phủ in the Air," resembling the glorious victory of the Việt Nam People's Army over the French at Điện Biên Phủ in 1954.

REMEMBERING: The exhibition has helped the public get a complete view of the fierceness and heroic victory of the 'Điện Biên Phủ in the Air' campaign in 1972. VNA/VNS Chu Thanh Vân

According to the Director of the National Archives Centre III, Trần Việt Hoa, the exhibits show the clear-sighted leadership by the Party and the bravery of the Vietnamese people and their armed forces in the North, especially in the capital Hà Nội, in winning the decisive battle which subsequently led to the signing of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords.

The exhibition is divided into three parts. The first is Hà Nội Sẵn Sàng Chiến Đấu (Hà Nội is Ready to Fight) – which features documents and photos about the preparations of the city's populace and their armed forces under the direction of the Party and Government, for protecting the city, such as temporarily evacuating local residents, public offices, factories and schools, and building a system of air shelters, medical services and civil guards.

The second part, Hà Nội: 12 Ngày Đêm Lịch Sử (Hà Nội: 12 Historical Days and Nights), is about the brutality of the US bombing of Hà Nội and the determination to fight and win of the Vietnamese people.

HERO: Colonel Nguyễn Đình Kiên introduces the book '25 Battles Shot down American B-52 Aircraft over Hà Nội in December 1972'. VNA/VNS Photo Chu Thanh Vân

The victorious 12-day battle of "Điện Biên Phủ in the Air" of Hà Nội’s army and people both in fighting to protect the city’s sky and working to serve the battle is highlighted in the third part, Vang Bài Ca Chiến Thắng (Resounding the Song of Victory).

Two historical witnesses, Hero of the People's Armed Forces Lt Gen Phạm Tuân [retired] and Hero of the People's Armed Forces Col Nguyễn Đình Kiên [retired], attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition and recalled their memories of the 12 Christmas day 1972 campaign.

Gen Tuân, the first pilot to shoot down a B-52 bomber, highlighted the Vietnamese air force's brave sacrifice and the Hanoians' resilience to fight against the intruders.

"Our victory was the synergy of the entire army and people, from the rudimentary to the most modern forces, all contributing to the victory over the enemy," he said.

Col Kiên shared unforgettable memories of when he was the commanding officer of the Air Defence Missile Battalion, directly participating in the battle and shooting down four B-52s.

Also, at the opening ceremony, he presented the Hà Nội Archives Department with his book 25 Battles Shot down American B-52 Aircraft over Hà Nội in December 1972,'about the battles he took part in to shoot down American B-52 bombers.

Through its vast array of artefacts, from documentaries, and e-books to B-52 aircraft wreckage, the exhibition has helped the public gain a complete and comprehensive view of the fierceness of the campaign and the heroic victory of the Vietnamese people.

SHOOTING STARS: Anti-aircraft guns are displayed at the exhibition. VNA/VNS Photo Tuấn Anh

One unique visitor to the event was 93-year-old artist Ngọc Linh, who painted two pictures of downed B-52 aircraft and presented them to the State Records and Archives Department of Việt Nam.

“I was an army officer, witnessing those historic days in the capital city. Visiting this exhibition and listening to witnesses recounting the fierce 12-day battle has brought so many wartime memories back to me,” she said.

“I am very pleased to see that precious images and documents of a historical period of the capital and the country are still treasured and appropriately forwarded to the next generation."

Hồ Thị Loan, 24, a visitor from the central province of Nghệ An, said: “Looking at the documents and photos on display, I feel very proud of the achievements that my forefathers obtained. As a generation born in peacetime, I must preserve such achievements and constantly contribute to the country's development."

The exhibition is being held at the Records and Archives Department of Hà Nội at 20 Huỳnh Thúc Kháng Street, until the end of this month. VNS

Source: VNN

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