The battle of Ap Bad – visit the battlefield
Early in the war, on the 2nd of January 1963, The Battle of Ap Bac took place on a forgotten field deep in to The Mekong Delta. It all started as radio traffic suspected to be from the VC was intercepted, indicating presence of significant forces in the area. This triggered units of ARVN to move north towards the area to search them out.
Unfortunately for them, it seems their plan had been compromised and the VC forces were expecting them. As the battle played out, it became clear that the VC forces were able to hold the attacking forces back and cause them significant losses. Despite heavy bombardment from air and artillery, the VC forces were able to slip away with relatively small casualty numbers. Both sides would see this as a success for their forces for different reasons but perhaps the VC forces were the ones that came out on the winning side.
Visiting the site is easy as it is located only four kilometers north of QL1 west of My Tho on the way to Vinh Long and Can Tho. Check out the video from our visit in February 2018. Although there is very little to discover at the battlefield in terms of remains, we certainly recommend a visit here for the history traveler. Visiting sites likes this will help in getting a better understanding of how the war was fought. Battle maps are possible to find online so one can trace the course of the battle on site in detail.
The Battle of Ap Bac took place quite early in the war, with the outcome it certainly played a part in shaping how the two sides chose to engage the enemy over the following years. What is also striking is how within such a small geography so many events took place.
The bases and battlefields of southern and western III Corps and eastern IV Corps were close together and over the years only a few places would not have seen significant fighting. While driving the road west from My Tho towards Can Tho one will pass plenty of significant war sites. For more interesting reading about another early battlefield, go to Go Quang Cung.
How to get there
Follow QL1 west from My Tho about ten kilometers. There is a large gate on the right (northern) side of the road mentioning the site. Follow the small village road along the canals about four kilometers before turning right at the sign. The battle took place across that area including the rice paddies. A few hundred meters across the rice paddy, there is a large outdoor museum with a monument and some items from the war such as a helicopter, an APC and an artillery piece. When we visited the site, the museum was closed but we could experience parts of it by looking through the fence.
Decimal coordinates are 10.438333,106.195278