On 7 May 1954, the French garrison at their fortress at Dien Bien Phu finally surrendered to the Viet Minh communist revolutionaries after months of siege.
This was a catastrophe for the French Union, which was forced to withdraw from all of its Indochinese colonies - and the first time that a western occupying power was defeated by a communist party.
The surrender caused the country to partition between communist forces in the north and non-communist forces in the north, setting the stage for the Vietnam war a decade later.
Watch original footage from the conflict in this British Pathé video, above.
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