This Day In History: The Vietnam War Resumes After A Ceasefire (1974)

On this day in 1974, the President of South Vietnam announces that the ceasefire in the country had ended and that his army would attack the Communists forces. The Vietnam war had effectively re-started after a ceasefire that temporarily halted the fighting. The South and the North had agreed to a ceasefire at the Paris Peace Talks. They had agreed to abide by a series of accords that would end the conflict and pave the way for a negotiated settlement. However, the Peace Accords had only lasted a year and the North Vietnamese army frequently broke the ceasefire. Despite the ceasefire the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army regularly attacked the South Vietnamese army. They were not fully committed to the ceasefire as they were in a strong position and they had already occupied large areas of the south. Hanoi also knew that the Americans were withdrawing and that Saigon could no longer count on American military support. The North Vietnamese had only been forced to agree to the Paris Peace by massive American air raids, the so-called Linebacker II raids. North Vietnam, once it was sure that American involvement in the war would be extremely limited decided that it could go on the offensive. They believed, that South Vietnam without the Americans was weak and vulnerable and they could be defeated.

South Vietnamese refugees trying to leave Saigon (1975)

On this day in 1974, the South Vietnamese had reported that over fifty soldiers had been killed and more were missing after two major attacks by the North. This was believed by Saigon to be the start of a major Communist offensive. The South Vietnamese army was put back on a war-footing and Saigon asked for more US military equipment.  The declaration by Thieu in effect ended the Paris Peace Accords and both sides were soon engaged in a bloody struggle. Hanoi blamed the South for violating the ceasefire, but most observers agreed that the Communists were eager to restart the war.

The North Vietnamese soon began a series of offensives aimed at capturing territory in South Vietnam. The army in the South was no match for the North and its fanatical communist cadres. The South Vietnamese army was poorly led by often corrupt officers, even though they were well-supplied with American weapons. On several occasion, the South was able to defeat the North but the communists always prevailed in the end. The North began to seize more and more territory in the South and eventually the capital, Saigon was cut off and was besieged by the Communists.  In 1975 the Communists marched into Saigon and they renamed the city Ho Chi Minh City.