Cu Chi Tunnels -South Vietnam
Situated about 40 Kms. northwest of Ho Chi Minh City( Saigon) in Southern Vietnam are the famed Cu Chi Tunnels which were used by the communist Viet Cong guerrillas in their resistance to better-supplied American forces and as a refuge from heavy aerial bombings.
The tunnels were dug with simple tools and bare hands under the jungle terrain of South Vietnam in the late 1940s during their war of independence from French colonial authority and further expanded during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. At its peak,the network of tunnels in the Cu Chi district linked VC support bases over a distance of some 250 kilometers, from the outskirts of Saigon all the way to the Cambodian border.
Viet cong soldiers used these underground routes to house troops, transport communications and supplies, lay booby traps and mount surprise attacks, after which they could disappear underground to safety. The tunnels served as their base of operations for several military campaigns like ‘Tet Offensive’ and grew to house entire underground villages with living quarters, kitchens, ordnance factories, hospitals and bomb shelters.
The American troops conducted large-scale program of attacks dubbed Operation Crimp, Operation Cedar Falls wherein after bombing attacks and the defoliation of rice fields and surrounding jungle areas with powerful herbicides, U.S. tanks and bulldozers moved in to sweep the tunnels, driving out several thousand residents, many of them civilian refugees. In all, at least 45,000 Vietnamese men and women are said to have died defending the Cu Chi tunnels over the course of the Vietnam War.
Cu chi tunnel is unique underground architectural structure. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort.