Breakdown of losses suffered
at Dien Bien Phu

Between November 20, 1953 and May 7, 1954 the fortified camp absorbed the equivalent of 17 battalions, i.e. 15,709 men.

On May 7, 1954, the last day of the battle, the garrison numbered 10,133 men at Dien Bien Phu and 1,588 at Isabelle for a total of 11,721, of whom 4,436 were wounded.  The Viet Minh agreed to allow the Red Cross to evacuate 858 of the most seriously wounded.  Between March 13 and March 27, 326 wounded had been evacuated.

A.  Army (all services)

1,726 KIA (from Nov. 20, 1953 to May 7, 1954)
1,694 MIA (for the most part, taken prisoner between Nov. 20, 1953 and May 7, 1954)
1,161 Deserters 5,234 WIA (beginning on Nov. 20, 1953)

The number of able-bodied men at the end of the battle has been estimated at 5,864. On May,8 1954 the Viet Minh counted 11,721 prisoners, amongst whom were 4,436 wounded.  858 of the most seriously wounded were evacuated under the control of the Red Cross between May 14 and May 26, 1954. (Prof. Huard)

Of the remaining 10,863 prisoners, including 3,578 wounded, the Viet Minh returned only 3,290 four months later.  The number of men who died in the camps, 7,573, represents a percentage on the order of 70%.

But there is reason to believe that this figure includes a number of Vietnamese who were never returned, not to say that they necessarily died in captivity.  For the most part, they were sent to  work camps or re-education camps and were, perhaps, released many years later without the French authorities knowing about it.  The percentage of deaths in the camps can reasonably be estimated at around 60%.

B.  Aviation

a) Air Force

48 aircraft destroyed (28 in flight, 20 on the ground)
167 aircraft damaged by Flak
15 men KIA and 33 MIA
43 prisoners (the entire air force section at Dien Bien Phu and several pilots and crew members captured after bailing out)
2 helicopters destroyed (March, 1954)

b)   Naval Aviation

6 fighter pilots KIA (8 aircraft lost, 19 damaged)
2 PB4Y2 Privateer crews MIA

c)   American Pilots (C-119’s)

2 pilots killed
1 pilot seriously wounded

It should be noted that the total number of aircraft operating in support of Dien Bien Phu consisted of 120 transport planes (100 C-47’s) and 227 fighters and bombers.  Also participating were planes of Air Viet Nam and American civilian pilots flying C-119’s (Fairchild-Packet)

C.  Viet Minh losses

In order to take Dien Bien Phu the Viet Minh committed the 304th, 308th, 312th, 316th and 351st divisions, representing the 33 battalions engaged as of March 13, 1954.  Counting reinforcements and coolies (porters, bicycle transport personnel and trench digging personnel) it can be assumed that Gen. Giap used far more than 100,000 men in the battle.

The French General Staff never learned the exact number of Viet Minh losses at Dien Bien Phu.  They can reasonably be estimated to number: 8,000 KIA (some works estimate 12,000 KIA and 20 to 30,000 WIA) 15,000 to 20,000 WIA of whom a great  number certainly must have died from the results of poor medical care. These are not official figures but rather estimates by the French General Staff.

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