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How did the My Lai massacre highlight the US problems in fighting in Vietnam?

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Presentation on theme: "How did the My Lai massacre highlight the US problems in fighting in Vietnam?"— Presentation transcript:

1 How did the My Lai massacre highlight the US problems in fighting in Vietnam?

2 Learning objective – to be able to use My Lai as a case study of the problems the US faced in Vietnam. I can describe the key events surrounding the massacre at My Lai. Grade D I can explain the impact of the My Lai massacre on the US war effort in Vietnam. Grade B I can explain and make links between the My Lai massacre, the conduct of the US forces in Vietnam and increasing opposition in America. Grade A

3 Starter – if you saw this photo on the front of a newspaper, what would you think?

4 Why was tension building for the US in Vietnam during early 1968? US troops were besieged by the Viet Cong at their base at Khe Sanh in January 1968. Fearing the same fate as the French at Dien Bien Phu, Westmoreland devoted a large number of troops to break the siege. Which he eventually did in April. This story gripped the US nation as coverage was beamed around the world. But this was not the biggest story...... The biggest story was the Viet Cong launching their biggest ever offensive in late January called the Tet Offensive. For them, the siege at Khe Sanh was to divert US troops away from the cities which were their targets for the Tet Offensive.

5 Where was My Lai? My Lai was a small village close to Khe Sanh. It was believed by the US that it was a VC headquarters with 200 guerilla fighters. This intelligence was proved to be incorrect.

6 What was Charlie Company mission? Charlie Company was led by Lieutenant William Calley. Their orders was to ‘search and destroy’ My Lai on 16 th March 1968. This included all houses and livestock. They were told as it was a Saturday all the villagers would be at market and most of the soldiers were under the impression that their orders were to kill everyone they found in the village.

7 What did Charlie Company do? In the four hours they were in My Lai, Charlie Company killed between 300 and 500 civilians – mostly women, children and old men. Most were killed by machine gun fire and only three weapons were found. No VC were killed.

8 What was the initial reaction to the My Lai massacre? The My Lai massacre happened at the same time as Khe Sanh siege and the fall out from the Tet Offensive. It was treated as a success by the US army. The Commanding Officer reported only 20 non-combatant casualties and the rest – 90 in all - were VC fighters. The men were congratulated by in November 1969, a US soldier called Ronald Ridenhour who knew many of the soldiers who took part in My Lai wrote to the leading members of the government stating he knew of something ‘dark and bloody’ that happened in My Lai.

9 What were the consequences of Ridenhour’s letter? Acting on Ronald Ridenhour’s letter, Congress investigated My Lai. At the same time Life Magazine published horrific photographs of the My Lai massacre. The army took action by blaming Lt. Calley, who was the only man charged for murder. Despite his argument that he was acting under orders, Calley was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1971 by was released in 1974. The My Lai massacre questioned America’s confidence in fighting in Vietnam. Many defended Calley because he was fighting for his country. Others, who were growing in number, argued that My Lai showed how rotten the war was.

10 Task Complete a hexagon pattern making as many links as possible between the different aspects of the My Lai massacre.

11 Plenary – a touch of Scrabble What are the three key words from this lesson that sums up your learning? Which word has the highest value if you used in a game of Scrabble? Compare with the person next to you. Which word has the highest value?

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