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“Promise of return”

The Capital Regiment was established on 6 January 1947. After 60 days of intrepid fighting to protect the capital city of the fledgling Democratic Republic of Vietnam following President Ho Chi Minh’s call for national resistance, the Regiment then retreated to conserve forces in preparation for the prolonged resistance war against the French. No members of the regiment wanted to part with Hanoi, and so they used paint, chalk and bricks to write on the walls inside the lanes a determined slogan: “We’re leaving, just to come back”

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Our army returning to the capital city on 10/10/1954 (archived photo).

And that much-awaited day finally came when the victorious army returned to heroic welcome of people both in city centre and on the outskirts. The Capital Regiment (E102) after the Điện Biên Phủ Campaign marched back to Phùng – Sơn Tây to prepare military fatigues and gears and to learn by heart the 10 precepts of the army for its personnel upon entrance into the newly liberated city. In the communes and hamlets of Đan Phượng District, Phùng, every household lit up their lights and hearths while the troops and the locals gathered together to sing and celebrate the day of peace.

At 5:00 a.m of 10 October 1954, the promise of return in the past materialized. The entire city was full of welcome gates, flowers, red banners with yellow letters as if new year was coming. The Victory Day and the liberation of the city became a huge festival when people in their best clothing gathered and lined up along the streets to welcome the returning soldiers.

Battalion 54 (popularly known as ‘Braving Death’ 54) headed by Trần Đông and Capital Regiment entered Cầu Giấy, Cửa Nam through the streets of Nguyễn Thái Học, Hàng Bông, Hàng Gai, Hàng Đào, Hàng Ngang, Hàng Đường, Đồng Xuân, Hàng Giấy, Phan Đình Phùng, Hoàng Diệu. Everywhere they passed, they were greeted with a forest of people waving flowers and flags in their hands. The units, standing in straight lines, gathered in the Flag Tower inside the Hoàng Diệu Citadel. The National Flag, measuring 42 square meters, was flying full-blown on top of the ancient tower of the “City of 36 Streets and Guilds”

Trần Đông – a Hanoi native, the young command of the battalion, was the Service General of the Capital Regiment and the take-over units. After reviewing the group, he reported to the Chief of Brigade 308 Vũ Yên that the forms were ready: infantry, artillery, machinery, information, sappers all together had formed neat and even rectangles, well-prepared for the flag salutation ceremony.

At 15:00 hours, a long round of horn rang at the Hanoi Opera House just like a solemn and sacred order passed down from history to present.

The “Song of Marching Soldiers” (Tiến quân ca) started, as everyone stood gazing solemnly at the flag flying aloft. As soon as the song stopped, the Chairman of the Municipal Military Control Committee, Major General Vương Thừa Vũ declared the début and coming into being of the Municipal Military Control Committee and read again the letter President Ho Chi Minh had sent to the fellowmen of the capital city on this important historical event. With a warm and charismatic voice, he read: “in the past eight years, the government have had to evacuate from the capital city to wage a resistance war for national salvation. Although we were apart, the government members always took all the fellow countrymen close to our hearts. Today, thanks to the support and solidarity offered by the people, our army had fought bravely and brought victory to the resistance war. The government now return to the capital with our countrymen. All parts of country are now unified under the same roof. What indescribable joy!

As they listened to the words of President Ho Chi Minh, the people of Hanoi and the soldiers could not hold back their tears in the glorious moments of the country and this city of more than 900 years of culture and traditions.

After that, the flag salutation ceremony turned into a huge rally in the streets of Hanoi. The Capital Regiment stationed in a different venue. Battalion 54 moved to 34 Trần Phú (now the General Department of Sports). The rally was greeted and joined by local people lining the two sides of the streets, singing merrily and waving their hands to welcome the units to their new stationing venue. “The Soldiers of the Capital have returned! Bravo! Bravo”, the crowd cheered with great excitement.

“… Eight years of resistance war and separation
Today we are back, Hanoi
Our eyes are filled with tears of happiness …”

(“We’re back, again” – Tố Hữu)

Nguyễn Mạnh – veteran of the Capital Regiment

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