Vietnam War Dictionary

Battle of Hue

On 31st January 1968, as part of the Tet offensive, Viet Cong and NVA troops launched a large assault on the imperial city of Hue. In just two hours they managed to capture the city, with the exception of the 1st ARVN Division HQ and the MACV compound, which had been saved by a Marine Corps relief drive. Denied the use of heavy artillery, which had been restricted in order to preserve the city’s historic sites, USMC and ARVN units engaged in fierce house-to-house combat as they began to counterattack. Though the fire restrictions were lifted later, bad weather continued to hamper allied airpower. However, the 1st Cavalry Division managed to sever the enemy’s supply lines and on 24th February, after 25 days of murderous fighting, the Marines and ARVN reclaimed the citadel. The battle finally ended on 2nd March and though the allies had tried to limit the damage, much of the city lay in ruins. The fighting claimed the lives of approximately 600 allied soldiers and an estimated 5,000 Communists. Mass graves were discovered after the battle, which contained the bodies of almost 3,000 civilians murdered by the Viet Cong.