Item description for 3E BCCP: 3e Battalion Colonial de Commandos Parachustistes by Cyril Bondroit...
The life and death of a parachute battalion from its creation to its annihilation on Route Coloniale 4 in October 1950. The recollections of 84 survivors and more than 970 previously unpublished photographs reconstruct, day by day, the operational life of this battalion
The 3e BCCP became particularly famous for a spectacular airborne assault on the citadel of Dong Khe, which had fallen into the hands of the enemy and successfully recaptured it after a bitter struggle
They participated in all the great battles from Cochin to Cambodia, from Annam to Laos and from Tonkin to the gates of China
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A "must have" for serious French military historians. Feb 23, 2005
A "must" for any serious historian of the French Paratroops in Indochina, Cyril Bondroit's history of the 3rd Colonial Paracommandos complements both Jean-Pierre Pissardy's "Paras d'Indochine" and Paul Gaujac's "Histoire des Parachutistes Francais". But whereas those are broad overviews, more finely tuned in Pissardy's case, Bondroit's work is a combination unit history, veterans' reminiscences, and photo album that tracks the 3rd BCCP from its very beginnings to its tragic destruction along Colonial Route 4 in October 1950, and the aftermath. No aspect of the 3rd BCCP's professional existence is overlooked. Its recruitment, enlisted base, officer base, training, armament, deployment, and employment across far stretches of Indochina, both as separate companies and as a battalion, are meticulously documented. More than a history, it a labor of love. A testimony of respect by a son to a lost father, who survived the 3rd BCCP only to die when the author was 13. This ancillary fact is highly important, as it gave the author intimate access to his father's old comrades and commanders. We thus get insights that they would not have shared with an outsider, and which illuminate the strengths and weaknesses of both the battalion and its legendary personalities. Captain Bigeard's consuming ambition, occasional pig-headedness, and tactical daring. Major Ayrolles' personal war with Captain Escarpit. The high respect accorded by the troops to Captains Cazaux, Mollo and Nguyen Van Vy. The occasional unfairness as some blunder, or mere bad luck, leads to the dismissal of platoon and company commanders. Cazaux' loyalty to the battalion, staying on after his relief and replacement by MAJ Decorse. The deaths of lowly enlisted men, as well as that of a count of France, in combat as well as in accidents. In summary, this book is rich in details that cannot be found in official histories and overviews. Bondroit even includes an opposing commander's point of view. Thus we have a photograph and extracts from an account by Viet Minh Colonel Dang Van Viet of the fighting at Dong Khe after the 3rd BCCP's famous combat jump to recover that post in May 1950. If any criticism can be leveled at this work, it is that occasionally, it goes into too much detail, giving us confirming or conflicting views of minor incidents that a professional historian might have only mentioned. But again, this is minor. Bondroit is a professional graphic illustrator and his talent shows in the books presentation. Maps, photos, cartoons, and drawings all richly illustrate the narrative, making it very easy to follow. If you want to know what it was like to be a paratrooper in French Indochina, this is as close as you will get without actually having served there.