Cát Bà

Cát Bà (known in English as Women’s Island) was a strategic coastal island due to its position near Hai Phong, North Vietnam’s largest port city. The French had a presence on Cát Bà from 1947 until 1955 but the local and nationalist population fought to keep the island their own and formed local militia, hiding in the forests and caves on the island. During the 1960s, the North Vietnamese developed their military presence on the island to help protect Hai Phong. Its caves also provided a safe sanctuary for military leaders when American bombing of North Vietnam commenced in 1965. A multi-level cave hospital was set up in 1965 to shelter and treat those wounded during US attacks. Today, the hospital is a tourist attraction on the island.