The Battle of Mutanchiang (or Mudanjiang) was a large-scale military engagement fought between the forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Empire of Japan from August 12 to 16, 1945, as part of the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in World War II. Due to the short nature of that campaign, this was one of the only set-piece battles that transpired before its conclusion.During the battle, elements of the Japanese Fifth Army attempted to delay the Soviet Fifth Army and First Red Banner Army long enough to allow the bulk of the Japanese forces to retreat to more defensible positions. Though casualties on both sides were heavy, the Red Army forces were able to break through the hastily organized Japanese defenses and capture the city ten days ahead of schedule. Nevertheless, the Japanese defenders at Mutanchiang achieved their goal of allowing the main forces to escape.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a Marxist-Leninist sovereign state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centers were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometers (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.
The Soviet invasion of Manchuria, formally known as the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation or simply the Manchurian Operation, began on 9 August 1945 with the Soviet invasion of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. It was the last campaign of the Second World War, and the largest of the 1945 Soviet–Japanese War, which resumed hostilities between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Empire of Japan after almost six years of peace. Soviet gains on the continent were Manchukuo, Mengjiang and northern Korea. The Soviet entry into the war and the defeat of the Kwantung Army was a significant factor in the Japanese government's decision to surrender unconditionally, as it made apparent the Soviet Union had no intention of acting as a third party in negotiating an end to hostilities on conditional terms.
In February 1945 at the Yalta Conference, the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin agreed to enter the war against Japan within three months' of Germany's defeat. In order to meet this deadline, it was necessary that the Soviet Union and the Western Allies cooperate in stockpiling supplies in the Far Eastwhile the Red Army dispatched additional forces along the Trans-Siberian Railway. While the Japanese monitored this buildup, they did not believe the Soviets would be ready to attack until mid-September, resulting in their being taken by surprise when the attack actually began on August 8.
The Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference and code-named the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union to discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany and Europe. The three states were represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Premier Joseph Stalin, respectively. The conference was held near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union, within the Livadia, Yusupov, and Vorontsov Palaces.
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was a Georgian revolutionary and Soviet politician who led the Soviet Union from the mid–1920s until 1953 as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–1952) and Premier (1941–1953). Initially presiding over a collective leadership as first among equals, by the 1930s he was the country's de facto dictator. A communist ideologically committed to the Leninist interpretation of Marxism, Stalin formalised these ideas as Marxism–Leninism, while his own policies are known as Stalinism.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
The Japanese force tasked with defending Manchuria, the Kwantung Army, was by this time reduced from the IJA's premier fighting force to a shell of its former self. Having been stripped of most heavy equipment and experienced formations, its forces had an average efficiency of under 30 percent relative to prewar units.The Soviets, on the other hand, hand-picked their best formations from the war in Europe based on their experience against certain types of terrain and enemy defenses. Key to the defense of eastern Manchuria was General Seiichi Kita's First Area Army, based at Mutanchiang. Subordinate to this Area Army were the Japanese Fifth and Third Armies, of which the Fifth Army, led by Lieutenant General Noritsune Shimuzu, would play the main part in the coming battle. Overall strategy in the event of a Soviet attack was for an initial stand to be made near the borders, allowing the main Kwantung Army forces to withdraw to a "redoubt area" around the city of Tunghua. Unfortunately for the Japanese, neither the redeployments necessary for such a plan nor the fortifications at Tunghua were ready at the commencement of hostilities.
The Kwantung Army was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1906 to 1945.
The Imperial Japanese Army was the official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan from 1868 to 1945. It was controlled by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office and the Ministry of the Army, both of which were nominally subordinate to the Emperor of Japan as supreme commander of the army and the navy. Later an Inspectorate General of Aviation became the third agency with oversight of the army. During wartime or national emergencies, the nominal command functions of the emperor would be centralized in an Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ), an ad-hoc body consisting of the chief and vice chief of the Army General Staff, the Minister of the Army, the chief and vice chief of the Naval General Staff, the Inspector General of Aviation, and the Inspector General of Military Training.
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of conflict between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), Poland and other Allies, which encompassed Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast Europe (Baltics), and Southeast Europe (Balkans) from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945. It has been known as the Great Patriotic War in the former Soviet Union and modern Russia, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front, or the German-Soviet War by outside parties.
The Soviet strategy, on the other hand, was exactly the opposite. In order to prevent the Kwantung Army from withdrawing to relative safety, the Red Army leadership under Marshal A.M. Vasilevsky planned a lightning assault in the form of a pincer movement, designed to stun and envelop the Japanese before they had a chance to escape.In charge of operations opposite the First Area Army in Eastern Manchuria was Marshal K.A. Meretskov's First Far Eastern Front, whose objectives were to seize Jilin and cut off Manchuria from Korea. These orders would take Meretskov's forces through the vital centers of Mutanchiang and Harbin. Leading the drive to Mutanchiang would be A.P. Beloborodov's 1st Red Banner Army and N.I. Krylov's Fifth Army, fully half of their parent Front's combat strength.
Marshal of the Soviet Union was the highest military rank of the Soviet Union.
Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Vasilevsky, a Russian career-officer in the Red Army, attained the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1943. He served as the Chief of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces (1942-1945) and Deputy Minister of Defense during World War II, and as Minister of Defense from 1949 to 1953. As the Chief of the General Staff from 1942 to 1945, Vasilevsky became involved in planning and coordinating almost all the decisive Soviet offensives in World War II, from the Stalingrad counteroffensive of November 1942 to the assaults on East Prussia, Königsberg and Manchuria.
The pincer movement, or double envelopment, is a military maneuver in which forces simultaneously attack both flanks (sides) of an enemy formation.
Having denounced its neutrality pact with Japan on April 5, Soviet forces crossed the border into Japanese-held Manchuria at midnight on August 8, 1945, achieving tactical surprise. In response, the Imperial General Headquarters ordered the commencement of all-out military action against the Soviet Union.The Soviet–Japanese War had begun in earnest.
The Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact, also known as the Japanese–Soviet Non-aggression Pact, was a neutrality pact between the Soviet Union and Japan signed on April 13, 1941, two years after the brief Soviet–Japanese Border War. The pact was signed to ensure the neutrality between the Soviet Union and Japan during World War II, in which both countries participated.
The Imperial General Headquarters was part of the Supreme War Council and was established in 1893 to coordinate efforts between the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy during wartime. In terms of function, it was approximately equivalent to the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff and the British Chiefs of Staff Committee.
The Soviet–Japanese War was a military conflict within the Second World War beginning soon after midnight on August 9, 1945, with the Soviet invasion of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. The Soviets and Mongolians terminated Japanese control of Manchukuo, Mengjiang, northern Korea, Karafuto, and the Chishima Islands. The defeat of Japan's Kwantung Army helped in the Japanese surrender and the termination of World War II. The Soviet entry into the war was a significant factor in the Japanese government's decision to surrender unconditionally, as it made apparent that the Soviet Union was not willing to act as a third party in negotiating an end to hostilities on conditional terms.
The initial thrust was opposed by the 135th, 126th, and 124th infantry divisions of the Japanese 5th Army, which were driven back by the Soviet attack. The main land routes to Mutanchiang consisted of two mountain passes, one to the north and one to the east of the city. The Soviets would make use of both of them, with the 1st Red Banner Army attacking from the north and the 5th Army attacking from the east.The Soviets were ultimately successful in their advance, but losses, especially in tanks, were very heavy. Of particular concern were concealed anti-tank guns as well as suicide bombers with explosives strapped to their backs. These, together with the torrential rain, made advancing difficult.
By August 12 the Japanese 5th Army had been compressed into a semicircle around Mutanchiang. While the Soviets continued to gain ground, the shrinking Japanese lines and their recovery from the initial attack meant that resistance in all sectors was stiffening. Despite showing an ability to recover and repair damaged tanks which both impressed and disheartened the Japanese,Soviet armored losses continued to mount: in one sharp action the 257th Tank Brigade's original strength of 65 tanks had been reduced to 7. Japanese losses were also severe: on the morning of August 13, a convoy of troop trains was ambushed by Soviet tanks, which destroyed the trains and killed approximately 900 Japanese soldiers. Thirty cars were lost, carrying 24 artillery pieces, 30 vehicles, 800 rifles, and 100 machine guns. Among those who barely survived was the commander of the IJA 135th division.
Over the course of the next few days the Japanese continued resistance around Mutanchiang from a series of fortified hills, from which they could rain fire on the Soviet corridors.The Red Army was forced to take these hills one by one, using its preponderance in armor and artillery to neutralize the defenses. During the struggle for Mount Shozu, an important Japanese stronghold, the weight of Soviet fire was so great that it appeared as if the top of the mountain had been blown completely off. Suicide bombers and anti-tank guns remained an ever-present threat: on August 14 Japanese forces near Ssutaoling knocked out 16 Soviet tanks with direct fire and a further 5 with suicide bombers; the latter vehicles being destroyed by only 5 men. Nevertheless, these attacks were reliant on the fanaticism of the individual Japanese soldier, and while they resulted in the destruction of Soviet armor, Japanese human losses were much higher.
The unexpectedly strong resistance around Mutanchiang caused Marshal Meretskov to change the 5th Army's objective from capturing the city to simply bypassing it, leaving the 1st Red Banner Army to take the city itself.This move threatened the integrity of the entire Japanese defense, and the situation became untenable. On August 15, General Shimizu, acting under the authorization of General Kita, ordered the IJA 5th Army to begin a withdraw, leaving only minor forces behind as a rearguard. At 0700 hours on August 16, the final Soviet assault on Mutanchiang began. Rocket artillery pulverized the remaining Japanese defenders, while tanks and infantry rushed forward to attack the city itself. However, in attempting to cross the Mudan River to the east of Mutanchiang, the 1st Red Banner Army found that all three bridges spanning it had been destroyed by the Japanese, and heavy fire from the opposite bank made a landing by boat impossible. In response, the Soviet 22nd Rifle Division crossed the river farther to the north and surprised the Japanese defenders from behind, forcing their withdrawal. This allowed the bulk of the 1st Red Banner Army to cross directly over the river and begin the assault on the downtown area. By 1100, Soviet forces began the room-by-room conquest of Mutanchiang in the face of fanatical resistance. By 1300, the Japanese rearguard had abandoned the city under pressure from the south, east, and northwest, leaving only scattered groups of diehards to continue resistance from the devastated buildings. As the 1st Red Banner Army invested Mutanchiang, the Soviet 5th Army to the south continued its advance westward, enveloping and destroying the Japanese 278th Infantry Regiment, the survivors of which mounted a last-ditch banzai charge rather than surrender. By the end of the day, all of Mutanchiang had fallen into Soviet hands, and the battle for the city was over. Shortly afterward, the main strength of the Kwantung Army laid down its arms in surrender as per the Emperor's broadcast. The Battle of Mutanchiang, and World War II, had come to an end.
Through the speed and audacious conduct of their offensive, the Soviet 5th and 1st Red Banner Armies won a major victory at Mutanchiang, advancing 150-180 kilometers and capturing the objective fully ten days ahead of schedule.The rapid advance preempted Japanese plans to establish a strong initial defensive line before Mutanchiang and forced them to begin their withdrawal early, fragmenting their forces. Despite these successes, however, stiff Japanese resistance and the fact that the main strength of the Soviet Armies failed to keep pace with their spearheads meant that the bulk of the IJA 5th Army was able to withdraw, albeit at only 50% of its already below-standard effectiveness. Soviet leaders acknowledged this, admitting the retreating Japanese still constituted "a very considerable force." All of this would matter little though, as the war ended before any further major fighting could take place.
Casualties on both sides were heavy. The Japanese reported 25,000 overall casualties, including 9,391 killed, from both the 5th Army and other units subordinate to the 1st Area Army that took part in the fighting. They also admitted the loss of 104 artillery pieces. In exchange, they claimed to have inflicted 7,000-10,000 Soviet casualties and destroyed 300-600 tanks. These claims may actually have been an underestimate:Soviet calculations place the 1st Far Eastern Front's losses in the Manchurian campaign as 21,069, including 6,324 killed, captured, or missing and 14,745 wounded and sick. At least half of these were incurred during the fighting at Mutanchiang.
The Battles of Khalkhyn Gol were the decisive engagements of the undeclared Soviet–Japanese border conflicts fought among the Soviet Union, Mongolia, Japan and Manchukuo in 1939. The conflict was named after the river Khalkhyn Gol, which passes through the battlefield. In Japan, the decisive battle of the conflict is known as the Nomonhan Incident after Nomonhan, a nearby village on the border between Mongolia and Manchuria. The battles resulted in the defeat of the Japanese Sixth Army.
The Invasion of the Kuril Islands was the World War II Soviet military operation to capture the Kuril Islands from Japan in 1945. The invasion was part of the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, and was decided on when plans to land on Hokkaido were abandoned. The successful military operations of the Red Army at Mudanjiang and during the Invasion of South Sakhalin created the necessary prerequisites for invasion of the Kuril Islands.
Kirill Afanasievich Meretskov was a Soviet military commander. Having joined the Communist Party in 1917, he served in the Red Army from 1920. During the Winter War of 1939-1940 against Finland, he had the task of penetrating the Mannerheim Line as commander of the 7th Army. He was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union shortly afterwards.
Issa Alexandrovich Pliyev was a Soviet military commander, Army General (1962), twice Hero of the Soviet Union, Hero of the Mongolian People's Republic (1971).
The Far Eastern Front was a front — a level of military formation that is equivalent to army group — of the Soviet Army during the Russian Civil War and the Second World War.
The 2nd Red Banner Army was a Soviet field army of World War II that served as part of the Far Eastern Front.
The Petsamo–Kirkenes Offensive was a major military offensive during World War II, mounted by the Red Army against the Wehrmacht in 1944 in northern Finland and Norway. The offensive defeated the Wehrmacht's forces in the Arctic, driving them back into Norway, and was called the "Tenth Shock" by Stalin. It later expelled German forces from the northern part of Norway and seized the nickel mines of Pechenga/Petsamo.
The 6th Guards Order of Red Banner Tank Army was a tank army of the Soviet Union's Red Army, first formed in January 1944 and disbanded in Ukraine in the 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. During its service in World War II, the army was commanded by Lieutenant General of Tank Troops Andrei Kravchenko.
The Japanese 3rd Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army based in Manchukuo as a garrison force under the overall command of the Kwantung Army during World War II, but its history dates to the Russo-Japanese War.
The Japanese 34th Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army during the final stages of World War II.
Alexey Nikolayevich Krutikov was a Soviet military leader.
KANTOKUEN was an operational plan created by the General Staff of the Imperial Japanese Army for an invasion and occupation of the far eastern region of the Soviet Union, capitalizing on the outbreak of the Soviet-German War in June 1941. Involving seven Japanese armies as well as a major portion of the empire's naval and air forces, it would have been the largest single combined arms operation in Japanese history, and one of the largest of all time.
The 361st Rifle Division formed in August 1941, as a standard Red Army rifle division, at Ufa. It may be considered a "sister" division to the 363rd Rifle Division. After forming, it was assigned to the 39th Army, and played a major role in the near-encirclement of the German 9th Army around Rzhev in the winter counteroffensive of 1941-42. In recognition of its successes it was reorganized as the 21st Guards Rifle Division in March 1942. A new 361st was formed in November 1944, in the far east of the USSR. It saw action during the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in August 1945, staging several crossing operations of the Amur and Songhua Rivers during the first days of the offensive, in recognition of which one regiment was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
The 365th Rifle Division began forming on September 1, 1941, as a standard Red Army rifle division, in the Sverdlovsk Oblast. After forming, it was assigned to the 30th Army of Western Front, served briefly in the defense of Moscow, and played a role in the liberation of Klin, and later in the near-encirclement of the German 9th Army around Rzhev in the winter counteroffensive of 1941-42. In late January, 1942, it was transferred to the 29th Army of Kalinin Front, which was very soon after encircled by German forces near Sychevka, and on March 18 the division was disbanded due to very heavy losses. In November, 1944, a new 365th Rifle Division was formed in the Far Eastern Front, based on the 29th Rifle Brigade, and saw action in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in August, 1945, being awarded the Order of the Red Banner for its services.
The 376th Rifle Division was raised in 1941 as an infantry division of the Red Army, and served for the duration of the Great Patriotic War in that role. It began forming in August, 1941 in the Siberian Military District. It followed a very similar combat path to that of the 374th Rifle Division. It joined the fighting front in December with the new 59th Army along the Volkhov River and it continued to serve in the battles near Leningrad until early 1944. The division took horrendous casualties in the combat to create and hold open a passage to the 2nd Shock Army during the Lyuban Offensive and was itself partly or fully encircled at several times during this dismal fighting. The division finally left this region as it advanced during the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive in January 1944 and in July won a battle honor in the liberation of Pskov, while its 1250th Rifle Regiment was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. In October the 376th as a whole would also receive the Red Banner for its part in the liberation of Riga. The division ended the war in Latvia, helping to contain and reduce the German forces trapped in the Courland Pocket, and was reorganized as a rifle brigade shortly thereafter.
The Seishin Landing Operation was an amphibious assault on Northern Korea between August 13-17, 1945, carried out by the forces of the Soviet Northern Pacific Flotilla of the Pacific Fleet during the Soviet–Japanese War at the end of World War II.
The 396th Rifle Division was raised in 1941 as an infantry division of the Red Army, and served twice during the Great Patriotic War in that role. The division followed a very similar combat path to that of the 398th Rifle Division in its 1st formation. It was first formed in August in the Transcaucasus Military District. In January, 1942 it was moved to the Crimea where it joined first the 47th and then the 44th Armies in Crimean Front. On May 8 it came under attack by the German 11th Army as part of Operation Trappenjagd and by the end of the month it was destroyed in the Kerch peninsula, being officially disbanded on June 14. In the buildup to the Soviet invasion of Manchuria a new 396th was formed in the Far Eastern Front in early 1945. The new division was one of only three formed in 1945 and served with the 2nd Red Banner Army, crossing the Amur River on August 11 and helping to reduce a Japanese fortified zone while also marching towards central Manchuria. Its rifle regiments were all decorated for their achievements and the division was disbanded before the end of the year.