French Far East Expeditionary Corps

CEFEO insignia bearing the traditional French Navy anchor symbol.

The French Far East Expeditionary Corps (French: Corps Expéditionnaire Français en Extrême-Orient, CEFEO) was a colonial expeditionary force of the French Union Army that was initially formed in French Indochina during 1945 during the Pacific War. The CEFEO later fought and lost in the First Indochina War against the Viet Minh rebels.

History

Pacific War (1945)

The CEFEO was created in early 1945 as a replacement for the older Far East French Expeditionary Forces (Forces Expéditionnaires Françaises d'Extrême-Orient, FEFEO). Its purpose was to support Saigon-based General Gilbert Sabattier, divisional commander of colonial "Indochina French Forces" (Forces Françaises d'Indochine)[1] and Free French Forces resistance small groups C.L.I. then fighting with the Japanese Southern Expeditionary Army Group during the March coup. After the 1944 Liberation of France and the fall of Nazi Germany in Europe the following year, the French authorities wanted to "free" the last Axis powers occupied territories in Southeast Asia, these included the newly established Empire of Vietnam, which was a Japanese colony. On June 7, 1945, Leclerc was nominated commander of the CEFEO. On June 22, Leclerc transferred command of the 2nd Armored Division (2ème D.B.) -the famous unit which had liberated Paris in August 1944- to Colonel Dio. Leclerc received command of the Far East French Forces (Forces Françaises en Extrême-Orient) on August 15.

First Indochina War (1946–1954)

Colonial paratroopers in the delta area of northern Vietnam (1952)

In 1946, nationalist, then communist popular rebellion movement rose up against established colonial rule in the French Indochina federation then including Laos, Cambodia, Tonkin (North Vietnam), the Annam (Middle Vietnam) and Cochinchina (South Vietnam), all states being protectorates excluding the latter which was a colony with Saigon as its capital. In 1946, they would become associated states within the French Union and by 1949 Tonkin, Annam and the Republic of Cochin China would merge as the State of Vietnam. The communist Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh overwhelmed its rival nationalist movements and organized itself as a guerilla army using guerrilla warfare, then in the 1950s support—using conventional warfare. The First Indochina War officially lasted from November 20, 1946 until July 20, 1954 and was settled by the Geneva Agreements.

Dissolution (1956)

After withdrawal of the last CEFEO troops from the independent Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in 1956, the corps was disbanded by General Pierre Jacquot.