Vietnam War timeline – to 1945


This Vietnam War timeline has been compiled by Alpha History authors. It spans the period from French colonisation to the end of World War II. If you would like to suggest an event or date or this timeline, please contact Alpha History.

1858
September: French warships attack Da Nang harbour, in response to the execution of Catholic missionaries in Vietnam.

1862
March 15th: The Treaty of Saigon: Vietnam cedes Saigon and three southern provinces to the French.

1887
October: Formation of the Union Indochinoise (Union of French Indochina), a colonial confederation consisting of Cochinchina, Annam, Tonkin and Cambodia.

1926
January: 12-year-old Bao Dai, the last Nguyen emperor of Vietnam, commences his reign.


1930
February 10th: Around 100 Vietnamese soldiers mutiny and kill five French soldiers in Yen Bai, northern Vietnam.
February: Formation of the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP), led by Ho Chi Minh and backed by the Comintern.

1940
September: After months of intimidation and coercive negotiations, Japanese forces invade Vietnam.

1941
May 19th: Nationalist and communist groups in Pac Bo form the Viet Minh, a coalition for Vietnamese independence.

1945
February: Ho Chi Minh writes to US president Roosevelt, seeking his political backing. The request is ignored.
March: The Japanese occupying forces claim sovereignty over Vietnam, ending French authority.
April: Death of US president Roosevelt. He is replaced by Harry S. Truman.
August 14th: Japan formally surrenders to the Allies. Japanese forces in Vietnam remain in control temporarily.
August 19th: Ho Chi Minh calls for a ‘national uprising’ to wrest control from the French and gain independence.
August 30th: Bao Dai, the Japanese-backed puppet emperor of Vietnam, abdicates.
August: Viet Minh guerrillas occupy Hanoi and proclaim a provisional government.
September 2nd: Japanese delegates sign the Instrument of Surrender on the USS Missouri, ending World War II.
September 2nd: Ho Chi Minh proclaims a declaration of Vietnamese independence, to a crowd of 400,000 in Hanoi.
September 13th: British forces arrive in southern Vietnam to oversee the disarmament and withdrawal of the Japanese.
September: Around 180,000 Chinese nationalist soldiers arrive in Hanoi to accept the Japanese surrender.
September 22nd: 1,400 French soldiers enter Saigon and attack Viet Minh members and civilians.
September 24th: Members of Binh Xuyen, a Vietnamese terrorist group, massacre 200 Europeans in Saigon.
October: 35,000 French soldiers arrive in southern Vietnam to assist with the restoration of French colonial rule.
October: Under pressure from occupying Chinese officials, Ho Chi Minh dissolves the Indochina Communist Party.


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