Defense of the Great Wall

Last updated
Defense of the Great Wall
Part of the Inner Mongolian Campaign
Greatwall 1933 japan.jpg
Greatwall, 1933
DateJanuary 1 – May 31, 1933
Location
Eastern end of the Great Wall of China
Result
Belligerents
Flag of the Republic of China.svg China

Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg Japan

Commanders and leaders
Strength
Northeastern Army: 50,000+Japan: 50,000
Manchukuo: 42,000
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Defense of the Great Wall (simplified Chinese :长城抗战; traditional Chinese :長城抗戰; pinyin :Chángchéng Kàngzhàn) (January 1 – May 31, 1933) was a campaign between the armies of Republic of China and Empire of Japan, which took place before the Second Sino-Japanese War officially commenced in 1937. It is known in Japanese as Operation Nekka (熱河作戰, Nekka Sakusen) and in many English sources as the First Battle of Hopei.

Contents

During this campaign, Japan successfully captured the Inner Mongolian province of Rehe from the Chinese warlord Zhang Xueliang, and incorporated it into the newly created state of Manchukuo, whose southern frontier was thus extended to the Great Wall of China.

Battle of Shanhai Pass

Shanhaiguan is the fortified eastern end of the Great Wall of China, where the Great Wall meets the ocean. Per the terms of the 1901 Boxer Rebellion accord, the Imperial Japanese Army maintained a small garrison of around 200 men at Shanhaiguan. On the night of 1 January 1933, the Japanese garrison commander staged an "incident" by exploding a few hand grenades and firing a few shots. [1] The Kwantung Army used this as an excuse to demand that the Chinese 626th Regiment of the Northeastern Army, guarding Shanhaiguan, evacuate the pass defenses.

When the Chinese garrison refused, the Japanese 8th Division issued an ultimatum, and then attacked the pass with the support of 4 armored trains and 10 tanks. [2] The Japanese attack was supported by close air support from bombers, and by shelling by warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy's IJN 2nd Fleet with a dozen warships offshore. On January 3, Chinese regimental commander Shi Shian, unable to withstand this attack, was forced to evacuate from his positions after losing half of his force. [1]

Battle of Rehe

The province of Rehe, on the northern side of the Great Wall, was the next target. Declaring the province to be historically a portion of Manchuria, the Japanese Army initially hoped to secure it through the defection of General Tang Yulin to the Manchukuo cause. When this failed, the military option was put into action. The Japanese army's Chief of Staff requested Emperor Hirohito's sanction for the 'strategic operation' against Chinese forces in Rehe. Hoping that it was the last of the army's operations in the area and that it would bring an end to the Manchurian matter, the Emperor approved, while stating explicitly that the army was not to go beyond the Great Wall. [1] On February 23, 1933, the offensive was launched. On February 25, Chaoyang and Kailu were taken. On March 2, the Japanese 4th Cavalry Brigade encountered resistance from the forces of Sun Dianying, and after days of fighting, took Chifeng. On March 4, Japanese cavalry and the 1st Special Tank Company took Chengde the capital of Rehe.

Japanese forces charging toward the wall defense Greatwall 1933 japan.jpg
Japanese forces charging toward the wall defense

Falling back from Rehe, Wan Fulin's 32nd Corps retreated to Lengkou Pass, while the 29th Corps of General Song Zheyuan also fell back, Zhang Zuoxiang's 37th Division retreated to Xifengkou Pass, General Guan Linzheng's 25th Division to the Gubeikou Pass.

On March 4, the 139th Division of the KMT 32nd Corps managed to hold Lengkou Pass, and on March 7, the KMT 67th Corps withstood attacks by the 16th Brigade of the Japanese 8th Division, at Gubeikou Pass.

On March 9, Chiang Kai-shek held discussions with Zhang Xueliang in Baoding about resisting the Japanese invasion. Chiang Kai-shek began to relocate his forces away from his campaign against the Jiangxi Soviet, which would include the forces of Huang Jie, Xu Tingyao and Guan Linzheng. Chiang Kai-shek also called over Fu Zuoyi's 7th Corps from Suiyuan. However, his actions were too late and the reinforcements were of insufficient strength to stop the Japanese advance.

On March 11, Japanese troops pushed up to the Great Wall itself. On March 12, Zhang Xueliang resigned his post to He Yingqin who, as the new leader of the Northeastern Army, was assigned the duty of securing defensive positions along the Great Wall.

Chinese soldiers armed with swords Greatwall 1933 swords.jpg
Chinese soldiers armed with swords

Over twenty close assaults were launched, with sword-armed Northwestern Army soldiers repelling them. However, on March 21, the Japanese took Yiyuankou Pass. The KMT 29th Corps evacuated from Xifengkou Pass on April 8. On April 11, Japanese troops retook Lengkou Pass after dozens of seesaw fights over the pass defenses and Chinese forces at Jielingkou abandoned that pass. [3] The Chinese army was significantly underarmed in comparison to the Japanese and many units were equipped with predominantly with handguns, hand grenades, and traditional Chinese swords with limited supplies of trench mortars, heavy machine guns, light machine guns and rifles. Beaten back by overwhelming Japanese firepower, on May 20, the Chinese army retreated from their remaining positions on the Great Wall.

Although the National Revolutionary Army (NRA) suffered defeat in the end, several individual NRA units like the He Zhuguo platoon managed to hold off the better equipped Japanese army for up to 3 days before being overrun. Some NRA Divisions also managed to win minor victories in passes like Xifengkou and Gubeikou by using the ramparts to move soldiers from one sector to another in the Great Wall, just like the Ming dynasty soldiers before them. [4]

Aftermath

On May 22, 1933, Chinese and Japanese representatives met at Tanggu, Tianjin, to negotiate an end of the conflict. The resulting Tanggu Truce created a demilitarized zone extending one hundred kilometers south of the Great Wall, which the Chinese army was prohibited from entering, thus greatly reducing the territorial security of China proper, whereas the Japanese were permitted to use reconnaissance aircraft or ground units to make sure that the Chinese complied. Furthermore, the Chinese government was forced to acknowledge the de facto independence of Manchukuo and the loss of Rehe.

See also

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Rehe Province province of the Republic of China

Rehe, also romanized as Jehol, was a former Chinese special administrative region and province.

Northern Expedition Kuomintang military campaign

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Tanggu Truce peace treaty

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Battle of Rehe

The Battle of Rehe was the second part of Operation Nekka, a campaign by which the Empire of Japan successfully captured the Inner Mongolian province of Rehe from the Chinese warlord Zhang Xueliang and annexed it to the new state of Manchukuo. The battle was fought from February 21 to March 1, 1933.

The following units and commanders fought in the Defense of the Great Wall of the Second Sino-Japanese War. List as of 20 March 1933.

The Japanese and Manchukuoan order of battle for Operation Nekka was:

Northeastern Army

The Northeastern Army, was the Chinese army of the Fengtien clique until the unification of China in 1928. From 1931 to 1933 it faced the Japanese forces in northeast China, Jehol and Hebei, in the early years of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Sun Dianying Chinese general

Sun Dianying was a Chinese bandit leader, warlord, and National Revolutionary Army commander who fought in the Warlord Era, Second Sino-Japanese War, and Chinese Civil War, earning notoriety for changing sides multiple times in course of these conflicts.

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Tang Yulin Chinese warlord

Tang Yulin was a Chinese warlord in the Fengtian clique and Chairman of the government of Rehe (Jehol).

The Inner Mongolian Campaign in the period from 1933 to 1936 were part of the ongoing invasion of northern China by the Empire of Japan prior to the official start of hostilities in the Second Sino-Japanese War. In 1931, the invasion of Manchuria secured the creation of the puppet state of Manchukuo and in 1933, Operation Nekka detached the province of Jehol from the Republic of China. Blocked from further advance south by the Tanggu Truce, the Imperial Japanese Army turned its attention west, towards the Inner Mongolian provinces of Chahar and Suiyuan, with the goal of establishing a northern China buffer state. In order to avoid overt violation of the Truce, the Japanese government used proxy armies in these campaigns while Chinese resistance was at first only provided by Anti-Japanese resistance movement forces in Chahar. The former included in the Inner Mongolian Army, the Manchukuo Imperial Army, and the Grand Han Righteous Army. Chinese government forces were overtly hostile to the anti-Japanese resistance and resisted Japanese aggression only in Suiyuan in 1936.

Liu Guitang, Liu Kuei-tang, 刘桂堂,(1892–1943). Chinese bandit and soldier, involved in the Japanese attempt to control Chahar province in 1933. Noted for switching sides several times and returning to banditry. Later, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, he commanded some Nanjing Government puppet troops.

The order of battle Chahar People's Anti-Japanese Allied Army in the Inner Mongolia campaign of 1933.

Guan Linzheng Chinese general

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He Zhuguo Chinese general

He Zhuguo (simplified Chinese: 何柱国; traditional Chinese: 何柱國; pinyin: Hé Zhùguó; Wade–Giles: Ho2 Chu4-kuo2; 1897– September 3, 1985) was a Kuomintang (KMT) general from Rong County, Guangxi. He was a Hakka. As a commander of a cavalry force under Zhang Xueliang, he escaped assassination by KMT radicals during the Xi'an Incident by the help of Yang Hucheng. In the People's Republic of China, he is celebrated by the Revolutionary Committee of the Kuomintang for his participation in the Second United Front between the KMT and the Communist Party of China against Japanese invaders during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Li Shouxin Chinese politician

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Cui Xingwu, 崔兴五, (?-?); Chinese officer in the army defending Jehol in the Second Sino-Japanese War that defected with his brigade to the Japanese and joined the Army of Manchukuo.

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References

  1. 1 2 3 "Battles of the Great Wall" . Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  2. Guo Rugui, 第二部分:从"九一八"事变到西安事变 榆关 热河失守 1
  3. Hsu Long-hsuen and Chang Ming-kai, History of The Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) 2nd Ed. ,1971. Translated by Wen Ha-hsiung, Chung Wu Publishing; 33, 140th Lane, Tung-hwa Street, Taipei, Taiwan Republic of China. Pg. 159–161.
  4. Osprey Publishing: The Great Wall of China 221 BC–AD 1644. Stephen Turnbull. Paperback January 2007 ISBN   978-1-84603-004-8

Sources

Topographic maps