The secret bunker of the Vietnam War’s Sai Gon Commandos concealed nearly 2 tons of weapons
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    Jan 22, 2019

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It lay beneath a house at 287/70, Nguyen Dinh Chieu st, District 3, HCMC and was used to conceal the arsenal of Sai Gon Commandos, including 2 tons of weapons being prepared for the Tet Offensive (January 1968) known as The General Offensive or Uprising of Tet Mau Than 1968.


Nestled in a busy alley of Sai Gon, the house now attracts many people who come to see the secret hideaway which used to hide an incredible amount of weaponry.

This 37-meter square house is 14,9m in depth and 2,5m in width located in the alley that connects two roads: Phan Dinh Phung (now named Nguyen Dinh Chieu) and Tran Quy Cap (now called Vo Van Tan)


According to the Vietnam Military History Museum, in late 1956, Mr Tran Van Lai (also known as Mr Nam Lai) worked at The Independence Palace as a Nam U-SOM Contractor, but he also secretly worked in the "guarantee" unit for the Commandos of Sai Gon.

One day, on the orders of his superior, he bought the house at 287/70. Using the pretence of needing to build a waste pit under the toilet, Mr Nam secretly dug a bunker beneath it instead. To avoid suspicion, the soil produced after digging was put in boxes and disposed of by car.


After 7 months, the bunker was complete and measured 8m in length, 2m in width, 2.5m in depth and a thick layer of waterproof cement. The bunker had 4 circular frames connected to the sewer pipes for use as an emergency exit and also had many air vents.

The bunker's entrance door is on the floor near the stairs. The 0.4mvxv0.6m vault door of this bunker has a screw in the middle used to lift it up and allow access.


After the bunker was completed, weapons were hidden in it contained within wooden coffins, fruit/flowers baskets, all carefully transported to the bunker by the "guarantee" unit.

Mr Nguyen Van Ba (known as Ba Bao) was assigned to transport nearly 2 tons of weapons from Cu Chi including 350kg of TNT and C4 explosive powder, 15 AK guns and 3,000 rounds of ammunition, along with huge amounts of pistols, B40 guns, grenades.


Just after midnight of the 1st month of Tet Mau Than (1968 Lunar New Year) 15 soldiers of the fifth troop of commandos gathered at the house to receive weapons. The troop's cars and a motorbike then departed for The Independence Palace.


Soon after, enemy troops came to destroy the house as they now suspected it was the secret hiding place of the commandos. Mr Nam was imprisoned on Con Dao island After the US Army seized his house but they never discovered the existence of the weapons bunker under his home. After the reunification of Vietnam, the property was returned to the former owner.


On 16 November1988, the "Weapons Bunker of Saigon Commandos attacking The Independence Palace in Tet Offensive 1968" was recognized as one of the Historical Cultural Vestiges of National Level. The house now open free of charge to visitors. The custodian said that visitors coming to this bunker are now mostly overseas tourists.


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Proofreader: Mr. Alex Curtis, Civil Servant UK

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