Heavy fighting continued in the northern provincial capital of Quang Tri following the capture of the town's central citadel by South Vietnamese marines on Friday (15 September).
GV Devastated city (6 shots)
LV Wrecked tank and CU
GV Troops walk through rubble. (3 shots)
SV North Vietnamese body.
LV Marines on citadel wall. (4 shots)
GV Troops firing rockets at enemy bunkers. (7 shots)
LV Troops in trench.
GV Shell explodes in rubble as soldier looks on. (3 shots)
LV South Vietnamese troops take cover.
STREITHORST: Quang Tri city has, to use an Old GI expression, been wasted. The devastation began shortly before the North Vietnamese seized the city on May first. The South Vietnamese counter-offensive, beginning July nineteenth, continued the dismantling of the provincial capital at a great lose of military hardware and human life.
Casualties among the Marine Corps which fought the final phase numbered fifteen hundred with ten times that number of North Vietnamese estimated killed or wounded. But by Friday the marines on top of the wall of the citadel felt victory was in sight. Two battalions of marines were in occupation of about half the citadel's fifty acres.
There as no big weapons inside. This was an infantry fight. Troops fired rockets at bunkers occupied by their enemy. These bunkers had originally been built by the South Vietnamese Third Division whose route precipitated the loss of Quang Tri in the first place.
By now, only about a hundred North Vietnamese were left inside the citadel, according to intelligence estimates. As these incoming rounds demonstrated, however, they were still supported by artillery in the surrounding hills.
This artillery will pose a serious problem for the South Vietnamese if they try to maintain large numbers of troops in the Quang Tri ruins.
Initials RW/VS 17.45 RW/VS 17.57
TELERECORDING original on 11526/72 72ft
This film carries a commentary by Tom Streithorst of the National Broadcasting Company of American. An alternative written commentary is provided.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Heavy fighting continued in the northern provincial capital of Quang Tri following the capture of the town's central citadel by South Vietnamese marines on Friday (15 September).
Government troops trying to clear the town met stiff resistance from North Vietnamese soldiers entrenched in bunkers in the rubble of the devastated city. They were also hit by North Vietnamese artillery fire from the hills surrounding Quang Tri.
A spokesman said North Vietnamese strength in Quang Tri appeared greater than expected.
The capture of the citadel was announced by the High Command in Saigon on Friday after four months of bitter fighting to recapture the provincial capital. It fell when Communist forces began their offensive on May 1.
In July, Radio Saigon prematurely announced the recapture of the citadel after a reconnaissance squad briefly penetrated the walls of the fortress.
The South Vietnamese paid a heavy price for the capture of Quan Tri. The city has been largely destroyed by bombs and shelling and a military spokesman said 136 Government troops had been killed and nearly 700 wounded in the last week of fighting. The spokesman put North Vietnamese losses at 1,600 killed.
SYNOPSIS: Government marines who captured the central citadel of Quang Tri on Friday were still meeting North Vietnamese resistance over the weekend in the bomb and shall blasted ruins of the city. Communist troops were entrenched in bunkers dug into the mounds of rubble.
South Vietnamese soldiers who captured the citadel after weeks of bitter fighting for control of the town found not one building left standing. Jagged tree stumps pointed skywards from slime-filled craters littered with the bodies of North Vietnamese soldiers.
On Friday, marines on the walls of the citadel felt that victory was in sight. It had been achieved at great cost - virtual destruction of Quang Tri and the death of one hundred and thirty six Government soldiers in the last few days of fighting. A military spokesman in Saigon said sixteen hundred Communist troops were killed inside the citadel. Even with the fortress in their hands, the South Vietnamese marines had to fight on to clear North Vietnamese troops from the surrounding rubble.
Shells fired into the citadel from North Vietnamese artillery in the hills surrounding Guang Tri will remain a serious problem for South Vietnamese troops in the recaptured provincial capital.