Heavy fighting continued in south Vietnam's Quang Tri Province early this week as United States and South Vietnamese air units and Sough Vietnamese ground troops tried to stem the week-old North Vietnamese invasion.
GV Cessua aircraft
SV Phantom aircraft taxiing.
CU Base motto "The gun-fighters"
SV PAN Phantom aircraft.
SV Skyraider aircraft taxiing.
SV & CU Bombs being loaded onto racks. (4 shots)
SV Ground personnel watching take-offs.
GV Phantom aircraft taking off.
GV South Vietnamese tanks crossing open ground.
SV PAN tanks moving along road and passing camera. (3 shots)
SV Trucks carrying troops.
SV PAN tank passing.
SV PAN Truck carrying reinforcements.
GV Wreckage of town Dong Ha.
CU sign "Dong Ha City off limits to all U.S. military personnel".
GV Debris of town (4 shots)
GV Remains of bridge.
SV Solider guarding approach to bridge, PAN ACROSS barbed wire across river.
GV PAN & SV damage caused by rockets to buildings.
Tracking shot American military advisor on field radio. (3 shots)
SV & CU Dead North Vietnamese (3 shots)
SV Troops in position along road. (2 shots)
TRANSCRIPT: REPORTER: "The most effective weapon against the North Vietnamese strike force so far has been air power -- most of it american. Bad weather and heavy cloud cover over Quang Tri Province has severely hampered combat air operations in support of South Vietnamese forces. But whenever the weather clears, even for a few hours, the flight line at Da Nag air Base becomes a busy place. American F4 Phantoms and south Vietnamese fighter bombers take advantage of any break in the overcast to launch tactical air strikes against North Vietnamese troops and tanks south of the DMZ.
"When and if the North Vietnamese advance is halted, most of the bombing missions south of the DMZ will be conducted by the South vietnamese Air Force. The American 'planes, it is believed, will then be used in a series of massive retaliatory raids against North Vietnam...a reprisal for the attack into Quang Tri
"On the round, the battle for Quang Tri Province is beginning to take new shape. After days of retreat, the South Vietnamese appear to be holding their positions. More than ten thousand fresh troops have been sent north to strengthen the South Vietnamese Third Division. The reinforcements formed a steady stream of traffic up South Vietnamese main highway, Route One. The trucks, tanks and troops headed for Dong Ha, a small town about four miles south of the demilitarized zone. It appears that this is where the South Vietnamese will make their stand to hold Quang Tri Province. Dong ha is where most of the reinforcements arrive -- a build-up to a possible South Vietnamese counter-attack.
"Ten-thousand people used to live in dong Ha, but they've all gone south to escape the fighting. Dong Ha -- or what's left of it -- is now a military stronghold. What was once a quiet country town has become the front line.
"South Vietnamese engineers blew up a bridge across the Dong Ha River just north of town. Destroying the bridge prevents the North Vietnamese from moving armour into Dong Ha. Without the bridge the river is a natural barrier against invasion. If the North Vietnamese try to take Dong Ha, they'll;l have to do it on foot.
"The South Vietnamese in position south of the river continue to take heavy rocket and artillery fire. communist gunners are less than five miles away, and they have the town zeroed in.
"During the shelling the few American advisors left in Dong Ha tried to call in air strikes on the enemy gunners. But the heavy cloud cover made accurate tactical bombing impossible. A few North vietnamese soldiers have tried to penetrate the defences around Dong Ha. It was a fatal mistake.
"The Communists and the Saigon Government have made exaggerated claims of victory. But in reality the battle has not yet entered into a decisive phase."
Initials VS/1.32 1.33
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Heavy fighting continued in south Vietnam's Quang Tri Province early this week as United States and South Vietnamese air units and Sough Vietnamese ground troops tried to stem the week-old North Vietnamese invasion. By Tuesday (April 4), when this film was shot, the northern town of Dong Ha had been almost reduced to rune by North Vietnamese rocket attacks, while south Vietnamese forces there were trying to make a stand against elements of the 40,000-strong communist invading forces. Reinforcements were being rushed in to Dong He along South Vietnam's main highway, route One, in an attempt to hold what remained of the town and prevent the North Vietnamese from reaching Hue and other targets further south.
The air strikes, meanwhile, were having some effect on the enemy ground troops -- despite bad weather which limited their rocket and bomb attacks. The situation when this film was shot then, was that the offensive had established North Vietnamese forces in rough semi-circle around Dong Ha, 10 miles (16 kilometres) south of the demilitarized zone, and Quang Tri City, the country's northern capital. south Vietnamese and U.S. forces were attempting to hold them there or push them back, while the North Vietnamese were trying to push even further south in the most fierce offensive into South Vietnam since 1968.
This film is accompanied by a voice-on-film commentary, a transcript of which can be found overpage. An alternative written commentary is also provided.
SYNOPSIS: READER OVER SOUND. South Vietnam -- and while North Vietnamese forces swept across the demilitarized zone and most of the country's Quang Tri Province in the week-old invasion, United States and South Vietnamese air units kept up low-level bomb and rocket strikes. Bad weather hampered them, but whenever the cloud lifted bombing missions continued. Reports from the battle front, where a force of forty-thousand North Vietnamese troops was undertaking the most serious offensive since 1968, said that the combined air operation was designed to halt the invasion. When -- and if -- this happened, said the reports, South vietnamese aircraft would continue the fight alone while United Stats aircraft undertook retaliatory raids over NORTH Vietnam. South vietnamese military reports said on tuesday that fifth-one enemy tanks had so far been destroyed in air raids, while United States aircraft flew several missions against North Vietnamese surface-to-air missile sites within range of Quang Tri city, still in South Vietnamese hands.
On the ground, South Vietnamese forces were fighting alone against North vietnamese troops. The only United States military personnel to be seen were advisors, linked by radio telephone to U.S. air units which they could call for assistance. When this film was shots, on Tuesday, North Vietnamese ground forces and established themselves in a rough semi-circle around Quang Tri City and dong Ha, and were attempting to drive further south to Hue. The South Vietnamese army was maintaining a defensive stand inside quang Tri and at Dog Ha, once a quiet country town now deserted by its ten thousand inhabitants fleeing from the fighting and almost in ruins from North Vietnamese rocket attacks.
Following the destructive rocket attack on Dong Ha, which virtually left the town a smouldering ruing, North Vietnamese ground forces attempted to take it -- b??? ion fierce battles over eighty were reported killed and the rest driven back. South Vietnamese engineers secured the town against an armoured attack by blowing up a vital river bridge outside the town, so that any attempt to take it would be confined to infantry or commando raids -- already proved unsuccessful.
South vietnamese positions south f the river, meanwhile, continued to take heavy rocket an artillery fire. Communist gunners were less than five miles away, and they were accurately ranged in on the town. During the shelling earlier this week, the United States advisors there DID call for air support -- but weather conditions made accurate tactical bombing impossible. New South Vietnamese ground forces were continually arriving in the town to strengthen its defenses however, as reinforcements were sent in from the south, sand as firebase positions around it were abandoned by troops who repositioned in Dong Ha and Quang Tri City.