This is a brief study on uniforms 
used by the French Forces in Indochina

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 The uniforms of the French Indochina war are varied and evolved  to release of  WWII Foreign uniform stocks.  

French Paratroopers
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Despite the lack of insignias, Paratroopers regiments and battalions can some time be identified by their uniforms if you know the approximate time the photo was taken (specific known uniform stock were released at specific times to specific Para Regiment or Battalion).
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French Para Dien Bien Phu

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"Adjudant Coloniale"
Senior NCO, from the French Marines

Again a typical Colonial  soldier "silhouette" wearing French uniform but still with the British WWII pistol belt and holster. The Shirt is one of the locally made one  by the French Army in Saigon.

French Foreign Legion Infantry Typical Legionnaire armed with the WWII French bottle action riffle MAS 36, British WWII webbing and French M47 uniform with the French bush hat.
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Lt from 5e Regiment de Cuirassiers
 "Royal Pologne" Tank regiment

 Lt 1er RCC 
(Régiment de Chasseurs à Cheval)
 Light armoured tank Reg

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GCMA officer. 

The GCMA did not have a specific uniform and as it did not appear in the French Army Table of Organisation and Equipment, procuring new equipment was always a battle in itself! 
As most members were recruited  from the Airborne regiments and battalion, often the GCMA NCO or Officer would wear their Red Paratrooper beret or Airborne issued jump suit.
 (see reconstructed top and bottom mannequins) 

GCMA officer


The "Corps Expeditionnaire Francais d'Extreme-Orient" CEFEO during the war suffered from a shortage of equipment as well as man power. During the first four years of the war, most of its troops were equipped with a mixture of WWII British, US and French equipment. You would find amongst the weapons the following calibers:
7.5mm, 7.65mm, 8mm, .30 &.45 US cal, British 9mm and .303, which made a logistic nightmare.
By around 1950, things did improved with French designed uniforms, equipment and weapons filtering in most units.

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Examples of  the most common hat worn by the French Troops in Indochina
"Le Chapeau de Brousse"
These came from French contractors as well as from local sources and in various colors from dark kaki green to sand colour.
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The red TAP (Troupe Aeroportees)  beret was also worn as well as locally produced beret or caps made out of camo parachute silk or other camouflaged material. 
The beret shown in the photos is the
early 3 piece, typical of the Indochina war.
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Typical 50's load bearing equipment, this comprise of French "TAP" 1950 model suspenders attached to French modified US M1 Carbine ammo pouches, with US first Aid pouch and M3 fighting knife. The web belt is the the 1936 US model, with a 
Mle 1950 French water bottle. 
A  WWII US pineapple grenade and an DF37 French grenade can also be seen.
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M1951 water canteen, cup 
and the two types of covers.
The early type is the one on the right with the WWII stud type closure, the later type has got poppers. The belt loop was not big enough to go on the TAP or the WWII US pistol belt, so the US hooks were often seen attached to the loops. (as seen on the left cover).
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The French Mle 1861 "musette" haversack  was often used to carry more ammo as well as food. 
From left to right
French DF37 (defensive type), 
OF37 (offensive type) and
 US WWII  pineapple grenades. The WWII British Mills type 36 grenades were also used early in the war.


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Photos showing US WWII cammo jacket as well as the WWII British Para smock heavily used by the French Para during the war, photos from "Soldats d'Indochine" taken during the Beltring show in 2002 and 2004

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