Dig deep: Saigon house hides war tunnel

By Quynh Tran   September 15, 2020 | 07:47 pm GMT+7

A house in Saigon's Cu Chi District boasts a 30-meter long secret tunnel where National Liberation Front guerrillas took shelter during the Vietnam War.

Nguyen Van Tron, the tunnel is nearly 3 meters deep and 30 meters long.

The house belongs to Nguyen Van Tron. The 55-years-old said the tunnel system stored weapons used by North Vietnamese troops and served as hideout for National Liberation Front guerrillas beneath Saigon, renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the war's end in 1975.
Tron is the youngest child of 10 kids born to former National Liberation Front guerrilla Nguyen Van Ten, in charge of transporting weapons by road to inner Saigon.

The tunnel is about a meter high and soldiers had to bow to be able to move.  It was dug by Tron and his comrades in 1955 and took over 10 years to complete. They dug little by little at night, using hoes and shovels, then secretly brought leftover soil to hide elsewhere Tron shared.

The tunnel is about a meter high and soldiers had to crouch to move along it. It was dug by Tron and his comrades during 1955 and took over 10 years to complete.
"They dug little by little at night, using hoes and shovels, then secretly brought the leftover soil to hide elsewhere," Tron recalled.

The tunnel is 30 meters long, leading from the garden to inside the house. The two sides of the wall are clay mixed with laterite with high durability, less erosion and can withstand the destructive power of some light bombs.

The tunnel is 30 meters long, leading from the garden to inside the house. Its walls are covered in clay mixed with highly durable laterite able to withstand the destructive force of light bombardment.

At the end of the tunnel is a 3-square-meter secret base of soldiers and weapons. In this vault, Tran Hai Phung, general of the Saigon Special Force - Gia Dinh Military Region, used to hide between 1967 - 1968 and gave instructions for the military campaigns in early 1968, known as the Tet Offensive.

At the end of the tunnel lies a three meter square secret vault for soldiers and weapons. Here, Tran Hai Phung, commander of the Saigon-Gia Dinh Military Region, took shelter between 1967 and 1968 ahead of the Tet Offensive. The latter was launched on January 30, the first day of Vietnam’s Lunar New Year in 1968, and saw over 80,000 soldiers from the north and Vietnam National Liberation Front (NLF) launch surprise attacks on more than 100 cities and outposts throughout southern Vietnam.

Tron climbs out at the end of the tunnel, next to the barn in front of his house. In the past, the area was disguised with straw, he said.

Tron exits the tunnel right next to the barn by his house. "In the past, the area was camouflaged with straw," he said.

The tunnel vent is disguised as a termite mound. Trons family has rebuilt a bigger vent for visitors to imagine.

The tunnel vent is disguised as a termite mound. Tron's family has since made it bigger to boost visitor experience.

The 100-square-meter house was completed around 1960s with red title roof and brick-tiled yard. Tron also built a house next to the old house for convenience.

The 100-square-meter house was completed in the 1960s with a red tile roof and brick-tiled yard. Tron has built another home next door for convenience.

Furniture, wardrobes, beds, counter and interiors are kept the same as before. Some other items such as guns, sewing machines, ox cart and others have been assigned to museums.These items are associated with a my fathers revolutionary activity and should be carefully preserved.

Furniture, wardrobes, beds, and a counter are kept the same as when in use. Some other items such as guns, sewing machines, and an ox cart have been assigned to museums. "These items are associated with my father's revolutionary activity and should be carefully preserved," he said.

Pictures of activities during war time are hung on the wall.

Depictions of the war decorate the walls.

A photo of Trons father (top right corner) on the ox cart which he used to camouflage weapons. The photo is framed by the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City and given to his family.

Tron's father (top right corner) on the ox cart he used to transport weapons. The photo was framed by the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City and given to his family.

The bomb shells of the U.S. troops that was dropped on the area of Thai My Commune were displayed in the Trons garden along side the the cart used to conceal weapons.The owner said that his house welcomes many visitors and veterans on the Tet Offensive anniversary, April 30.The tunnel at Trons house is more than 20 km away from the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, which were used by Vietnamese soldiers as hiding spots and communication and supply routes during the war against the U.S invaders. They were built in the late 1940s and underwent intense U.S. bombardment in the 1960s. Recently, the Peoples Committee of Ho Chi Minh City sent a request to the Ministry of National Defense on the policy of preparing a record of Cu Chi tunnels and submitting it to UNESCO to be listed as a world heritage.

The yard is littered with discarded U.S. bomb shells dropped in Cu Chi District along with the cart used to conceal weapons. Tron said his house welcomes many visitors and veterans.

 
 
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