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Paratrooper Camouflage Combat Dress 1951 pattern

Dien-Bien-Phu! It’s the Cameron, Bazeilles and Arnhem all rolled into one.

A sacrificial offering for a suicidal mission accomplished too far from a Metropolitan France that knows precious little about it; in this basin of the high plateaus that is also French soil. For 5 months the Bataillons will steadfastly resist the enemy on sloth on fire bases with the feminine first names of: Beatrice, Huguettes, Elianes, Dominique, Claudine, Isabelle, Gabrielle and Anne-Marie.

In this Herculean battle where the enemy lost between 20,000 and 30,000 men, the paratroop units that were engaged were the 2/1 R.C.P (2nd Bat. 1er Régiment de Chasseur Parachutiste: Airborne Infantry Regiment) 1st and 2nd B.E.P (1er et 2ème Bataillon Etranger Parachutiste French Foreign Legion Para Battalions) 1st and 6th B.P.C, (Overseas Para Light Infantry) 8th Choc (Assault Para Battalion), 5th B.P.V.N, (Bataillon Parachutiste Vietnamien: Vietnamese Para Batallion) C.E.P.M.L (Compagnie Etrangère Pachutiste de Mortier Lourd Foreign Legion Airborne Heavy Mortar Company ), 17th C.G.A.P (Compagnie du Génie Aéroporté: Airborne Engineer Company), G.M/35th R.A.P, (Groupe Mobile/35th Régiment d’Artillerie Parachutiste: Airborne Artillery). Metropolitan, Colonial and Foreign Legion paras proved beyond any doubt and to all, that they were the elite.

Decimated units were constantly reinforced with volunteers that in some cases did their first jump (and combat jump) so as to “fight side by side with their buddies”. On May 7, 1954, with no ammo and few men left showered by thousands of artillery shells and relentless human wave attacks the base fell. The paras of Dien Bien Phu gave the world a new and ultimate lesson in courage.

Camouflage Dress

The Para shown here wears the camouflaged 1951 pattern combat uniform. The jacket is similar to the British Airborne’s Denison smock, the trousers are similar to the US Airborne Model 42, but the camouflaged material is French (and since then, copied by many nations).

This trooper wears a US paratrooper helmet with chin strap. The suspenders are French but the belt, ammunition pouches and combat knife are US manufactured.

His weapon is the US M1 A1 carbine. During WW2 it was in service with US Airborne Divisions and at times with the SAS

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