The Ingenuity of the Viet Cong: Home-Made Weapons.
Above Photo: a Viet Cong home-made hand grenade, brought back from the Vietnam War (Unattributed, flikr).
My novel, BACK, isn’t really ‘about’ the Vietnam War, although a sub-plot deals with a covert Special Forces mission into Laos in 1968. The book then recounts the aftermath of this mission as it impacts a group of backpackers who trek into the Laotian jungle to visit the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the modern-day.
During my research I was fascinated to learn how resourceful the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army were in using whatever was to hand in their fight against the US, whether it was bamboo, animals, captured or unexploded mines and bombs, or even home-made guns and grenades.
I recently saw the below short – 16 minute – video (link below). It’s a North Vietnamese propaganda film, but it shows some amazing footage.
Included in the video is “the VC’s Pentagon” a whole military and administrative centre including radio operators, printing presses and typists, hidden on boats, as well as sobering footage of four US POWs who had been captured in a VC attack on a base not far from Saigon. I have not been able to find out what happened to them.
By the time the video was shot, they had been held in captivity for FIFTEEN MONTHS, being moved around the jungle to avoid rescue.
Other interesting footage in the video is of crossbows, spikes, spear launchers, punji traps and some awful looking thing called a porcupine, which could sweep a whole squad of soldiers off a trail (@ 1 – 3.30 mns in). The narrator says that hundreds of thousands of punji traps had been dug along the trails in the jungle, and they also feature in my novel.
Although all bamboo-related traps would have rotted away long ago, other ingenious VC booby traps involving bullets and grenades might still be out there in the jungle, still waiting for victims, and my modern-day backpackers have to deal with those risks too, as they move along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, going deeper into the tri-border jungle.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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