July 24, 2015

1945. The British Use Japanese Soldiers to Fight Vietnamese Revolt

The Vietnamese Uprising
"The uprising in Hanoi capital on August 19, 1945" (source)
From the Kansas City Kansan, September 26, 1945:
British Use Japanese to Fight Indo-China Revolt

5000 Enemy Troops Join Allies To Battle Natives in Saigon Streets

The colonial fuse in Asia, lit by war, has now exploded a bomb. At least one great colonial territory, Indo-China, is in a state of actual revolt against return to rule from overseas—in this case, France.

Java, in the Netherlands East Indies, appears to be in a state of latent rebellion against a return to Dutch rule, judging by fragmentary dispatches from every viewpoint. To repress what CBS correspondent Bill Downs, on the spot, calls an Annamese "war of independence," the British commander at Saigon is using 5000 armed Japanese troops, as well as his 2500 British Indian troops and about 2000 French soldiers released from prison camps.

James McGlincy of United Press reports from Saigon that "throughout southern Indo-China the Japanese seem to be enjoying the same prestige and authority they had before the war ended."

'Not Enough Troops'

The excuse given by Maj. Gen. D. D. Gracey, British commander at Saigon, for using the Japanese troops against the Annamese is that there aren't enough Allied troops in Indo-China to "maintain order."

Eyewitness reports from Saigon say the Japanese are cruising the streets in heavily armed trucks and guarding public buildings. Bill Downs says "they are fighting side by side with the British and the French."

The revolutionary crisis, which has been building up with Annamese-French clashes throughout Indo-China for the past two weeks, was precipitated by French troops.

On Sunday, about 300 French soldiers released from Japanese prison camps surrounded the Saigon town hall and demanded the surrender of the Government set up by the Vietminh, the Annamese nationalist party.

When the Annamese officials rejected the ultimatum, the French stormed the building, then chased the Annamese through the streets. About 300 Annamese were arrested. The French then took over other public buildings, including the police station. But their forces were not large enough. Vietminh irregulars attacked, and barricades went up in the streets. Finally, the British decided to intervene.

100 Casualties

Fighting has been going on since Sunday.

Downs says about 100 persons have been killed and wounded on both sides.

French officials in Saigon have been blaming the Japanese for the Annamese revolt. In one sense, that may be true. Last March, the Japanese shrewdly gave the Annamese their "independence" and allowed them to set up their own government.

When the British arrived, it became clear that they were committed to restoration of French colonial rule, which meant the end of any Annamese hope for real independence.

The surrender gave the Annamese a chance to demonstrate their dislike for the French, and there were sporadic attacks on French residents in Saigon and other parts of the country. The British intervened to stop the riots, but left the Annamese government in office, if not in power. The French attack on the Town Hall, and the arrest of the Annamese officials, touched off the real revolt.

UP says British military strength is expected to keep order in Saigon until the main French occupation forces arrive, but Downs says armed bands of thousands of Annamese irregulars are moving toward Saigon.

"Some," Downs reports, "are armed with Japanese rifles and revolvers, but most have only sticks and clubs and bamboo poles tipped with knife blades. Some of the raiding parties are infiltrating toward the center of Saigon.

Other trouble in Southeast Asia and the Indies:

Reports from Java say that disorders inspired by Indonesian nationalists have broken out in various parts of the island.

A UP dispatch from Batavia says that 10 "extremists" were arrested at Soerabaja after street demonstrations and a Dutch Government Representative, C. H. O. Vander Plas, was stoned while driving a car through Batavia. One Dutchman was killed at Soerabaja when a native mob of some 2000 attacked a group of Europeans, the dispatch said. Order was restored by Japanese troops.

An article in the Southeast Asia Command Newspaper, Senc, said that British "reinforcements were being sent to Java to deal with "what Japanese secret police called possible disorders by Indonesian nationalists."

At Bangkok, Thailand, a battle has been going on for four days between Thai (Siamese) troops and police and armed Chinese civilians in the Chinatown area. Seven persons have been reported killed. This fight apparently is the outgrowth of bad feeling between the Thais and the Chinese minority in Bangkok, which reached a head when the Thais refused to let the Chinese hoist Chungking flags to celebrate the Allied victory.