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Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Things that go bang in the night. Saigon: Vietnam memories

I can't remember when the rockets began to fall on Saigon. It must have started around this time. If I recollect they were mostly 122 mm. I know I was woken in the middle of the night by this very loud bang. Sound travels far at night but this turned out to be less than a hundred yards from my front door. The maid started banging on my bedroom door in a panic saying rockets were falling. Having nothing better to do I got up, had a cold beer, smoked a pipe of tobacco, my usual cure-all for any crisis, and went back to bed again. In the morning I found out a house had been destroyed and the occupants killed. A night or two later another fell to the back of my house.
It was no use worrying about them. If one was hit one was just unlucky. A maid, carrying a baguette, arriving for work at a French woman's apartment opposite the Hôtel Continental was killed. A Japanese hearing the bang looked out of his apartment window to see what was happening and was killed by another rocket. When fifty rockets fell around Tan Son Nhut Joe was untouched. Another day when one single rocket fell on the departure hall of Tan Son Nhut a single person was killed. A lone GI on his last day, waiting for his flight home.
My neighbour, an architect, whom I would get to know very well, built a sandbagged bunker in his living room where the familly slept every night.
There were many such stories and over time a number of people were killed. The pressure, coming after the big Tet offensive was mostly psychological though as if to remind people that the Viet Cong were still there. Life, after these brief moments of panic went on very normally. They were a very resilient people and seemed to take such things in their stride.

3 comments:

Two said...

I've just found and have just starting reading your blog, fittingly, in a small top floor flat on Dong Khoi (Tu Do). Left Nha Trang in 1968 and came to Saigon in 1994. Thanks for the memories, yours and mine!

Two said...

Have just discovered and begun reading your blog, fittingly, in a small top floor flat on Dong Khoi(Tu Do)in Saigon. I left Nha Trang in 1968 and came to Saigon in 1994, long trip. Thanks for the memories, yours and mine!

vnrozier said...

Thanks for your comments. There are times when I wish I were still living in Saigon.
Its taken forty years and perhaps the arrival of blogs to begin writing.My past is so blurred into my present I've sort of drawn a line at 1975.

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