General Nguyen Vo Giap was born at An Xa, a small farming village in Quang Binh province, some 60 miles north of the old Imperial capital of Hue on the 1st of September 1910.
His father, an ardent nationalist, was well educated and although the family was poor, arranged for the young Nguyen to attend the Lycée School in Hue. This school was to produce many fine graduates who would play important roles in future events. These would include Ho Chi Minh, Pham Van Dong and Ngo Dinh Xiem. Giap however, would not graduate. He was expelled for political agitation in 1927, and three years later he was serving a prison sentence for organising a mass protest against French oppression. On release from gaol he attended the exclusive Lycée Albert Sarraut in Hanoi, and from there he obtained admission to the Hanoi University where he pursued his passion for history, specialising on the French Revolution and the campaigns of Napoleon.
It was at this time that the young revolutionary would receive his introduction into Communism. His passion for a Vietnam free from the French Colonial rule would ensure that he would quickly rise through the partys ranks, and by 1939 he and Pham van Dong (recently released from Polou Condore prison) would be leading the Indo-Chinese Democratic Front Movement within Vietnam. In May 1940 Giap and Dong escaped to China where they met with Ho Chi Minh, the acknowledged leader of the Vietnamese anti-French movement. Although Giap had never previously received any Military training he would during the next twelve months listen attentively to the many discussions about guerrilla warfare tactics given by visiting officers from Mao Tse-Tungs Eighth Route Army.
During the course of 1940 Giap began his first course for Military Cadres, and in 1941 he moved back to Vietnam where his small band of followers would now begin a series of raids on French outposts. Ironically his guerrilla band were armed with weapons supplied by both the Chinese Nationalists and the United States. As his guerrilla forces expanded Giap was able to obtain approval from the Party to proceed with the next part of his plan to obtain Vietnams independence from French colonial rule. On the 22 December 1944 he officially formed the first unit of his elite main force-the Chu Luc which would ultimately evolve into the Vietnamese Peoples Liberation army (VPLA)
From such beginnings would emerge a most outstanding Communist General who would command his countries military forces for more than forty years. Finally retiring at the age of 69 on the 7th of February 1980