A Cambodian soldier carries a machine gun alongside her comrades during the Vietnam War. This photo was taken on 26th August 1970 in the Prek Tamak region of Cambodia, where heavy fighting took place between Cambodian forces and the Viet Cong. Many young women served as soldiers and medics in the rapidly expanded Cambodian army during this time.
Lam Thi Dep was a Viet Cong soldier who fought in the Vietnam War. The above photo of her was taken in 1972 in Soc Trang Province when she was 18 years old. Large numbers of North Vietnamese women like Lam Thi Dep fought for the Viet Cong and photos like this were often taken for propaganda purposes.
She is seen carrying an American M16 rifle. US-supplied South Vietnamese garrisons often gave these weapons to the Viet Cong as a gift, in exchange for being spared from their attacks.
Bà Triệu, or Triệu Thị Trinh, was a Vietnamese warrior and military commander in the 3rd century who fought against the occupying forces of the Chinese Wu Kingdom.
An orphan of noble birth, Triệu grew up among her brother’s family as a slave. At the age of 19 she declared her intention to become a warrior to fight against the Wu, who controlled Vietnam at that time and had purged more than 10,000 people. When her brother tried to prevent her leaving she is famously quoted as rebuking him with the words: “I want to ride the storm, tread the dangerous waves, win back the fatherland and destroy the yoke of slavery. I don’t want to bow down my head, working as a simple housewife.”
Triệu was successful in raising an army of around 1000 men and women, which she led north from the Cu-phong District to engage the Chinese in open rebellion. Despite the relatively small size of her army she was successful in defeating the Wu in over 30 separate battles within a period of 2 years.
While Triệu’s war effort allowed her to carve out her own portion of Vietnam for a time, her success was a humiliation for the Wu, especially as their Confucian beliefs emphasised the natural inferiority of women. In response the Taizu Emperor of Wu sent huge numbers of troops to the Vietnamese frontier. While Triệu’s army held out for several months in the face of this new onslaught, she was ultimately killed in battle in the year 248.
Following her death and the consolidation of Chinese rule, Triệu was immortalised in Vietnamese folklore as a supernatural hero, often depicted riding into battle astride an elephant wielding dual golden swords.
North Vietnamese soldier, from documentary “Combat Women".