Those entombed died in combat at the Battle of Da Nang (1858-1859)

Vietnam: the Da Nang cemetery where Spanish and French soldiers rest

In the city of Da Nang, on the central coast of Vietnam, there is a 19th century cemetery known there as the "Nghĩa trang Y Pha Nho" (Y Pha Nho Cemetery).

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The cemetery is located almost in the center of the isthmus of the Son Tra peninsula, near the entrance of the port of Tien Sa. This would not be of much interest to people who are not from Vietnam, if it were not for the fact that Spanish and French soldiers are buried there. As is known, before its independence Vietnam was a French colony , known as French Indochina. But why are there Spanish soldiers there?

The tomb of a Spanish soldier, in which his name is still distinguished: Juan Mauhorat y Soriell (Photo:

To find the reason, we must go back to the year 1857, when in the Kingdom of Annam, which occupied the central part of present-day Vietnam, several Spanish and French Catholic missionaries were assassinated. One of those assassinated was the Bishop of Platea, the Galician José María Díaz Sanjurjo, born in Suegos (Lugo), who was horribly martyred: three times he was taken prisoner by the troops of the Kingdom of Annam, was beheaded and his body thrown into a river. This Spanish martyr was canonized by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1988.

In the center of the cemetery there is a small chapel, built by the French in 1898 (Photo:

These crimes sparked outrage in Spain and France. At that time, the only power with a presence in the area was Spain, which still possessed the Philippines, so the French Emperor Napoleon III asked Spain for help, organizing a French-Spanish expedition. On August 31, 1858, a joint Spanish-French force landed in Da Nang, consisting of 3,000 soldiers, of whom 450 were Spanish. The battle lasted five months, during which the French-Spanish expedition captured the Son Tra peninsula and some coastal towns. That war, known as the Cochinchina War, would end in 1862 and mainly benefited France , that he could convert that country into his colony.

Some of the tombs located to the left of the chapel. In several of them, the names of those who are buried in them are no longer distinguishable (Photo:

In 1898, the French built the current cemetery, where the remains of dozens of Spanish and French soldiers who died in the Battle of Da Nang rest. Some of the tombs are anonymous, probably because the dead resting in them could not be identified. Currently, due to the passage of time, the inscriptions on most of the tombstones are almost illegible, and the grass surrounds the tombs more and more.

A plaque in French commemorating the Spanish and French soldiers of the joint expedition that landed in Da Nang on August 31, 1858 (Photo:

You can see here the video published by the channel Rusty Compass in April 2017 about this cemetery:

If you ever travel to Da Nang and want to visit this cemetery, here you can see its location on Google Maps:


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