Defense of the Great Wall

Last updated
Defense of the Great Wall
Part of the Inner Mongolian Campaign, Second Sino-Japanese War
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.

Simplified Chinese characters Standardized Chinese characters developed in mainland China

Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are officially used in the People's Republic of China and Singapore.

Traditional Chinese characters Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.

Pinyin Chinese romanization scheme for Mandarin

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

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.

Inner Mongolia Autonomous region

Inner Mongolia or Nei Mongol, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region or Nei Mongol Autonomous Region (NMAR), is one of the autonomous regions of the People's Republic of China, located in the north of the country. Its border includes most of the length of China's border with Mongolia. The rest of the Sino–Mongolian border coincides with part of the international border of the Xinjiang autonomous region and the entirety of the international border of Gansu province and a small section of China's border with Russia. Its capital is Hohhot; other major cities include Baotou, Chifeng, and Ordos.

Republic of China (1912–1949) 1912–1949 country in Asia, when the Republic of China governed mainland China

The Republic of China (ROC) was a sovereign country that existed between 1912 and 1949 in what is now the People's Republic of China. It was established in January 1912 after the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China. The Republic's first president, Sun Yat-sen, served only briefly before handing over the position to Yuan Shikai, the leader of the Beiyang Army. Sun's party, the Kuomintang (KMT), then led by Song Jiaoren, won the parliamentary election held in December 1912. However, Song was assassinated on Yuan's orders shortly after; and the Beiyang Army, led by Yuan, maintained full control of the Beiyang government. Between late 1915 and early 1916, Yuan Shikai was the self-proclaimed Emperor of China before abdicating due to popular unrest. After Yuan's death in 1916, the authority of the Beiyang government was further weakened by a brief restoration of the Qing dynasty. Cliques in the Beiyang Army claimed individual autonomy and clashed with each other during the ensuing Warlord Era.

A warlord is a leader able to exercise military, economic, and political control over a subnational territory within a sovereign state due to their ability to mobilize loyal armed forces. These armed forces, usually considered militias, are loyal to the warlord rather than to the state regime. Warlords have existed throughout much of history, albeit in a variety of different capacities within the political, economic, and social structure of states or ungoverned territories.

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.

Shanhai Pass pass in the Great Wall of China

Shanhai Pass is one of the major passes in the Great Wall of China. It is located in Shanhaiguan District, Qinhuangdao, Hebei province. In 1961, the pass was selected as a National Cultural Site of China. It is a popular tourist destination at the eastern terminal point of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. The location where the wall meets the Bohai Sea is nicknamed "Old Dragon's Head" Laolongtou. The pass lies nearly 300 kilometres (190 mi) east of Beijing and is linked via the Jingshen Expressway that runs northeastward to Shenyang.

Great Wall of China wall along the historical northern borders of China

The Great Wall of China is the collective name of a series of fortification systems generally built across the historical northern borders of China to protect and consolidate territories of Chinese states and empires against various nomadic groups of the steppe and their polities. Several walls were being built from as early as the 7th century BC by ancient Chinese states; selective stretches were later joined together by Qin Shi Huang (220–206 BC), the first Emperor of China. Little of the Qin wall remains. Later on, many successive dynasties have built and maintained multiple stretches of border walls. The most currently well-known of the walls were built by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

Boxer Rebellion anti-imperialist uprising which took place in China

The Boxer Rebellion (拳亂), Boxer Uprising, or Yihetuan Movement (義和團運動) was an anti-imperialist, anti-foreign, and anti-Christian uprising that took place in China between 1899 and 1901, toward the end of the Qing dynasty. It was initiated by the Militia United in Righteousness (Yihetuan), known in English as the Boxers, for many of their members had been practitioners of Chinese martial arts, also referred to in the west as Chinese Boxing. The uprising took place against a background that included severe drought and disruption caused by the growth of foreign spheres of influence. After several months of growing violence in Shandong and the North China plain against the foreign and Christian presence in June 1900, Boxer fighters, convinced they were invulnerable to foreign weapons, converged on Beijing with the slogan Support the Qing government and exterminate the foreigners. Foreigners and Chinese Christians sought refuge in the Legation Quarter.

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]

Close air support aerial warfare mission directly supporting friendly ground forces

In military tactics, close air support (CAS) is defined as air action such as air strikes by fixed or rotary-winged aircraft against hostile targets that are in proximity to friendly forces and which requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces and attacks with aerial bombs, glide bombs, missiles, rockets, aircraft cannons, machine guns, and even directed-energy weapons such as lasers.

Imperial Japanese Navy Naval branch of the Empire of Japan

The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1868 until 1945, when it was dissolved following Japan's surrender in World War II. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) was formed after the dissolution of the IJN.

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.

Manchuria geographic region in Northeast Asia

Manchuria is a name first used in the 17th century by Japanese people to refer to a large geographic region in Northeast Asia. Depending on the context, Manchuria can either refer to a region that falls entirely within the People's Republic of China or a larger region divided between China and Russia. "Manchuria" is widely used outside China to denote the geographical and historical region. This region is the traditional homeland of several ancient groups, including the (proto-)Koreans, Xianbei, Shiwei, Khitan, and Jurchen peoples, who built several states within the area historically. Several modern ethnic groups such as Mongols, Koreans, and Han Chinese are also regarded as Manchurian indigenous peoples.

Tang Yulin Chinese warlord

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

Chaoyang, Liaoning Prefecture-level city in Liaoning, Peoples Republic of China

Chaoyang is a prefecture-level city of Liaoning province, People's Republic of China.

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.

Wan Fulin Army General

Wan Fulin was the military governor of Heilongjiang province from 1928 and part of the Fengtian clique. On Dec. 29, 1928, he--along with Zhang Xueliang, son of the late Zhang Zuolin, together with Zhang Zuoxiang--against Japanese threats and coercion declared in a public wire that the four provinces of Fengtian (Liaoning), Jilin, Heilongjiang and Rehe would change the flag to that of the Republic of China and obey the National Government.

Zhang Zuoxiang Chinese warlord

Zhang Zuoxiang,(张作相) was an important member of the Fengtien warlord clique.

Guan Linzheng Chinese general

Guan Linzheng was a highly successful Chinese general in the Kuomintang who fought against both the Communists and the Imperial Japanese Army, and was a recipient of Order of Blue Sky and White Sun, the highest honor for a Chinese Nationalist commander.

On March 4, the 139th Division of the KMT 32nd Corps managed to hold Lengkou Pass, and on March 7, 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

Related Research Articles

Song Zheyuan Chinese general

Sòng Zhéyuán (宋哲元) was a Chinese general during the Chinese Civil War and Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).

Rehe Province province of the Republic of China

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

Tanggu Truce peace treaty

The Tanggu Truce, sometimes called the Tangku Truce, was a ceasefire signed between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan in Tanggu District, Tianjin on May 31, 1933. It formally ended the Japanese invasion of Manchuria which had begun two years earlier.

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 Manchuria, 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.

The Second Zhili–Fengtian War of 1924 was a conflict between the Japanese-backed Fengtian clique based in Manchuria, and the more liberal Zhili clique controlling Beijing and backed by Anglo-American business interests. The war is considered the most significant in China's Warlord era, with the Beijing coup by Christian warlord Feng Yuxiang leading to the overall defeat of the Zhili clique. During the war the two cliques fought one large battle near Tianjin in October 1924, as well as a number of smaller skirmishes and sieges. Afterwards, both Feng and Zhang Zuolin, the latter being ruler of the Fengtian clique, appointed Duan Qirui as a figurehead prime minister. In south and central China, more liberal Chinese were dismayed by the Fengtian's advance and by the resulting power vacuum. A wave of protests followed. The war also distracted the northern warlords from the Soviet-backed Nationalists based in the southern province of Guangdong, allowing unhampered preparation for the Northern Expedition (1926–1928), which united China under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek.

Pacification of Manchukuo campaign led by the Imperial Japanese Army to pacify resistance to the puppet state of Manchukuo

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Shang Zhen General of the National Revolutionary Army and Governor of Suiyuan Province

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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.

The Rehe Guard Army was a corps of the Manchukuo Imperial Army, formed after the conquest of the former Chinese province of Rehe during Operation Nekka in 1933. The Rehe Guard Army was created from a section of the Taoliao Army and had a nominal strength of 17,945 men

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

Li Shouxin Chinese politician

Li Shouxin was a pro-Japanese commander in the Manchukuo Imperial Army amd later the Mengjiang National Army.

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