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'Kicking out the Vietminh': How Britain Allowed France to Reoccupy South Indochina, 1945-46

John Springhall
Journal of Contemporary History
Vol. 40, No. 1 (Jan., 2005), pp. 115-130
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30036312
Page Count: 16
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
'Kicking out the Vietminh': How Britain Allowed France to Reoccupy South Indochina, 1945-46
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Abstract

Why were British troops accused of supporting French imperialism in southern Indochina (Vietnam) during the months following Japanese surrender in August 1945? This article reassesses the roles of Major-General Douglas D. Gracey, the Commander-in-the-Field, Lord Louis Mountbatten, the head of South-east Asia Command, and the British Labour government, in allowing the French to reoccupy first Saigon then the rest of the south, despite a strong communist-led nationalist movement. In particular, it examines the influences on and the choices available to Allied military and political decision-makers in the crucial period before significant French re-entry into Saigon and its surrounding area. Gracey has been unfairly accused by American and other commentators of violating orders by taking it upon himself to restore the French to power, primarily through a joint military takeover in Saigon on 23 September 1945. Evidence suggests that consent to the recovery of French Indochina was an underlying component of British foreign policy. Gracey's individual culpability hence becomes of little consequence, since he was evidently acting in accord with the postwar reinstallation of European imperialism in south-east Asia.

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